Monday, July 22, 2013

Embracing normal

"normal is regular.
normal is safe.
warm and comfortable. . .
but normal isn't great.
normal isn't fantastic.
normal can never be amazing."
          ~Mini-Cooper ad, 2013

I beg to differ.  I think normal can be amazing.

I've been a runner for 14 years.  Over those years I have slowly improved, my running tempered by life . . . getting married, having injuries, two pregnancies, weird night work schedules . . .

These days I am running stronger and faster and more consistently than ever before.  So it goes to figure that I should be able to break my all-time 5K PR of 22:08, right?

Last summer and this I have been pushing and fighting and training hard, with the goal of making it to 21:59 and beyond.  With a mile time of 6:35 it doesn't seem like a stretch.  But with each race I have fallen short, my best this year being 22:37.  And with each race I have looked forward to the next with more and more angsty anticipation, dreading it more than I've looked forward to the chance to run.

Last weekend I ran the Shipyard Half-Marathon in Portland, and due to the heat and humidity and burned feet ran my worst half ever.  I wanted to stop from the moment I started, and hated every step.  And not just because it was hot but because I had in my head that I had to run a certain pace, and that if I didn't, then I had failed.

And I did it for a while.  I held an eight-minute pace for seven miles, and then just couldn't do it anymore.  The only positive things I can say about that race is that I ran every step, and didn't end up hospitalized, as some people did.  I have never HATED running as much as I did during that race.

So when it came to Emily's Run this weekend, I decided it was time for a running re-boot.

Time to have fun.

Time to forget about time.

Time to encourage others.

Time to be normal.

So I did.

I ran comfortably hard.  I enjoyed myself.  I cheered people on when they passed me instead of mentally cursing them out.  I said "thanks" when spectators sprayed water.  I smiled and waved as people cheered.  When I looked up and saw a giant hill looming, I was thankful to be strong enough to power up it.  I ran across the finish line happy with what I had accomplished.  I ran 23 minutes flat, good enough for 3rd in my age group, and enjoyed it.

At some point I will break 22 minutes.  One of these days all my hard work will pay off with a monster PR.  My training, the weather, my sleep, pre-race banana, legs, and lungs will all be just right, and I'll crush it.  And then keep moving on to the next goal.

But right now I am going to enjoy my normal life, my normal running, my normal (sometimes bratty) kids, my normal house, and my (above average) normal husband.

I don't think embracing normal is giving up on an extraordinary life.  But the extraordinary can be found in everyday life, and I caught a glimpse on Emily's Run.

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