You probably know the fable, “The Tortoise and The Hare.” The tortoise challenges the hare to a race. Confident and speedy, the hare quickly overtakes the tortoise. He is soon so far in the lead that he stops to take a nap – but he awakens to find that the tortoise has beaten him to the finish line because slow and steady wins the race.
I am the tortoise. Only in my case, I’m not winning any races.
How slow am I? Well, I guess that depends on your definition of slow. I’m no Al Roker (who, by the way, I think is awesome for finishing a marathon). But to qualify for Boston, I’d have to shave nearly TWO HOURS off my PR. Even if I was 80 years old, I still wouldn’t qualify with my current marathon finishing time. I’m serious.
Most of the time, I’m not too concerned with my speed and am truly proud of the accomplishment when I cross the finish line. But every once in a while, it just kind of bugs me that I can’t seem to make my body go faster. I start comparing myself to other runners. I look at the amazing runners in my training group – runners of all ages, shapes, and sizes. They run with such grace and make it seem so deceptively effortless – and then it starts to bug me a little that I’m always at the back of the pack, struggling just a tiny bit to keep up.
Then I read all these incredible running blogs, written by strong, talented women who could run circles around me, women who actually place in races (imagine that!).
And then I make things even worse by comparing myself to my husband. He’s not “a runner.” He dislikes running. Yet he can maintain a 8:00-9:00 pace for 8 miles. Eight. Miles. I can run an 8:30 mile too – but only one of them, and at the end of it I’m gasping for breath and ready to puke. My comfortable pace is somewhere around 10:30-11:30, which places me solidly in the middle-rear of the pack.
Most runners are very welcoming & supportive. Most non-runners are impressed that I’ve run a marathon. But sometimes I see the judgment creep into their eyes, and I hear it in their voices when they tell me that I “didn’t do too bad” or that my finishing time was “still pretty respectable.”
Are you freaking kidding me? I ran 26.2 miles. Anyone who can do that deserves a hell of a lot more credit than “pretty respectable” or “not too bad.” Especially when it comes from someone who can’t run one mile – or even from someone who’s never run more than 10. The point is, if you’ve never run 26.2 miles, you have no business judging my finish time. And even if you have run those 26.2 miles yourself, you’re treading on thin ice by offering your unsolicited opinion. Unless your opinion is that I’m awesome.
But I digress. And I’m probably preaching to the choir anyway. I guess my point is that I’d like to be faster, but I don’t know if my body is even capable of it. Is it possible for a slowish runner to become significantly faster? Especially a runner of, ahem, a certain age? I don’t know if I’ll ever run a half marathon in under 2:30 or a full marathon in under 5:00. And is it important? Most days I’d say no. What really matters is doing my best and challenging myself to become better – right?
But I have to be honest and admit that every once in a while, I’d really love to be the hare.
Lindsay M. says
Hey it doesn’t matter how fast your are you re still a runner and you are running MARATHONS! Just do what makes you happy and forget everyone else!
Thanks. 🙂 Most of the time I don’t worry about what other people think…because most other people haven’t run a marathon. xo
Your accomplishments are amazing – don’t forget that! Just remember that slow and steady does win the race – in this case, the race being meeting your goals. Small improvements in pace add up over time. Focus on smaller goals – maybe taking 10 seconds off your 5k time (which amounts over a minute off your marathon time). You’ll see the smaller milestones are something to celebrate and make the larger goals seem more attainable!
I love that – that’s a really great way to look at things, in more manageable chunks. I do find myself downplaying my accomplishments sometimes…the other night I described myself to a fellow runner as not really being a “hard core” runner. He laughed and reminded me that running a marathon is pretty hard core. 🙂
Yes, running marathons is pretty hard core!
Michele C. says
Seriously girl, we are cut from a lot of the same cloth. I have dealt with those comments too – oh, if you are running a 12 minute mile that’s not running. Well, it is for ME. It’s what MY body can do and sustain. Maybe over the years I will get faster. Maybe I won’t. I hate that it bothers me too – I get all defensive and then feel like “why bother” sometimes. But here’s what I try to remember. Even if my last 10K was only a 13:03 min/mile pace (blisters suck), you know what? That’s 13:03 minutes/mile faster than everyone who was only cheering us on, or only sitting on the couch. 😉
Yes, we are. 🙂 I saw a quote when I first started running that was similar to what you said…that it doesn’t matter how fast or slow I run…either way, I’m still lapping everyone who’s sitting on their couch. It’s stuck with me. It’s so important to me to encourage runners of all speeds and abilities to get out there and just run! But I’m only human and sometimes I wish I could be a little (or a lot) faster. Maybe someday. 🙂
Oh my goodness. You wrote what I was feeling the other day, when I had my epic meltdown. I’m just slightly more tortoise-y than you, and while I KNOW KNOW KNOW it shouldn’t matter… sometimes, it kind of sort of does. I wish it came as easily to me as it seems to for some others, but like you, I hope one day I can be a little more like the hare. 🙂
Exactly! I know it shouldn’t matter. But if I’m trying so hard, why can’t I make my body go just a little faster? Big slowpoke hug from one tortoise to another. 🙂