As soon as I knew that I DEFINITELY had a guaranteed entry to the New York Marathon, I wrote out a training schedule that would get me to my goal. But then I remembered that I am HORRIBLE at seeing through a long run on my own and had to rethink my original plans.
Knowing that I live 40kms+ away from my friends downtown and how hard it would be to get a train early enough to make Sunday runs, I sucked it up and joined the RR near my house.
Walking into this new RR last Wednesday was terrifying for me. I stood on the fringe, watching other people chat and laugh and didn’t know where I was supposed to go. When the groups were called out, I thought I’d be alright as the leader mentioned someone who would be running a pace with which I would be comfortable.
But then she called out the route, which had multiple twists and turns with street names I had never heard of before that moment, and I suddenly felt panicky. Before I could say anything, multiple beeps of Garmins signalled the beginning of our 10k and the group charged up the driveway and away from me.
I had never been so scared to begin a run before in my life.
I tried to keep up for the first 4k but the group kept getting further away. Every step made me feel more defeated. I found myself trying to keep back tears and wrestling with the idea of just running home instead.
I felt alone. I felt forgotten. I felt like I didn’t belong.
Finally, as the group headed up a hill, one of them looked back, stopped and waited for me. He would later introduce himself as a “clinic helper”, stay with me and another runner who was having a hard time, and get us to the end.
But the damage was already done and I had to keep stopping because I just wasn’t into it. I can feel physically fine and not be able to run because the negative talk in my head slows me down. I was also writing passive aggressive emails to the clinic instructor in my head about this experience and vowing never to come back.
Now where would that get me? It certainly wouldn’t get me back to the store. It wouldn’t get me through my training. It wouldn’t get me to my goal of a finish line in NYC.
I was not about to quit.
So I kept going and instead, after high-fiving my accidental pace group leader and stretching out my less broken butt, I walked into the store, introduced myself to the clinic leader and asked multiple questions to ensure that I would stay on the right course for my training.
I would not be alone again. I would not be forgotten. I did belong.
Sunday’s long run was so much better and the clinic leader ran with me for half of it to make sure I was alright. And I am.
Quitting and going home would have been easy. Sticking it out and putting myself out there was hard. But with hard work comes rewards.
I will get through my training, make new running friends, discover more about the place I now call home and more about myself in the process.