I got up at 4:15 this morning. When the alarm went off I silently cursed the me from yesterday, the me who told my coach that I needed more motivation to get all of my workouts in, the me who agreed to go to a group run at 5:30am that was 45 mins from my house. Why would I do that!?! Obviously it’s because I really do need the motivation. Had I not have done it, I would have rolled over and went back to sleep for another 3 hours. But, instead, I flipped on the light and got dressed.
When I got to the running track there were already a bunch of people there, 30ish. It didn’t matter. There could have been a hundred.
They are great people, all really nice and encouraging, but I was terrified to be there. They are athletes. They run, fast. They run races and sprint triathlons and regular tri’s and Ironman tri’s. I run 5ks. Some of them are 3 times faster than me, but most are about twice as fast as me.
It’s intimidating for me to be around them. I’m positive that I am in the way or holding them up. I hate those things. I’m afraid that I am the only one who is breathing, loudly, like I am about to pass out. I’m positive I’m the only one with sweat pouring off of my face and arms and other places I don’t like to talk about.
I’m also thankful it’s dark at 5:30am.
I’m afraid that they know that I don’t belong, that they make more money than I do and drive nicer cars and have better jobs and have people at home waiting for them every night. It all seems so unfair since they can run faster than me too.
They have all been going to these group runs for years so they all know each other. Some of them talk while they run. It makes me even more envious. I’m lucky to keep breathing while I’m running. I can’t talk. I can barely get out a “thank you” when someone passes me and offers an encouraging word.
They look better than I do too. They have been running for years, so that’s natural. Most of them swim and cycle as well. I imagine that they eat better than me and drink all of the water that they should every day too. They follow all of the rules.
Along with their slim, toned, muscular bodies, they wear nice clothes and fancy “running” shoes. They have Garmin’s that tell them how much faster they are running than me. Some wear heart rate monitors to make sure that they are training in the right “zone.”
And my coach, God bless him, kept calling me out. Not in a bad or mean way, just in a “Hey, here’s what we are going to do. Sarah! You are doing this instead.” I know that I’m different, but I HATE being different. I HATE being singled out. Even if everyone knows that I’m slow, which they do, I don’t want to know that they know.
All of this weighed heavy on my mind as my feet hit the pavement. It did something else too. Most of the time I run a mile in about 13 minutes. On a good day, by myself, 12. On a race day I can run in 11 minutes. This morning? 10.
When I look at Training Peaks (an app that my coach sets up my workouts in) and see that I’m scheduled to run 4 miles, I get nervous. It takes forever to run 4 miles and I don’t like it and I worry about it all week. I would have to schedule an hour out of my day for that. This morning, I ran 3.5 miles in 38 minutes. And, yeah, it seemed like forever at times, but I was worried about SO MUCH that I really wasn’t worried about the running part.
I have this fear that someone is going to catch me. They are going to stop me and say, “You don’t belong here. Go away!” I even went so far as to discuss this with my coach and he said that he is happy to have me there. He said that the worst part is the mental stress, but if you can make it past that part, it will be good.
I chose to run with the group for another reason too: learning. I want to be like them. I want to run faster. I want to know which of the fancy shoes are better. I want someone to talk to about all of the millions of questions I have and ask advice from experience. I want to run tri’s and do well in them. And I figure that if I train with people who do… well, you become like the people that you spend the most time with… right?
If you spend time with lazy people, you learn to be lazy.
If you spend time with dedicated people, you learn to be dedicated.
So when Monday rolls around, I will get out of bed at 4:15am once again. I will fight that fear that I don’t belong and that I’m in the way. I will go to the running class and I will get faster. Maybe just a little bit, but it’s worth it.