Last Sunday, BJ and I laced up with our fellow Fuel Belt race team members for the RI 6-hour. When BJ first told me about this team event I said no without hesitation. It was November, it would be cold, I had only run a few times since the Newport half marathon and I was still recovering from the high altitude runs in Boulder. Excuses, excuses; they just kept coming. About a month prior to the race I was talking to a teammate about it. He asked me if I was going to be on a team, ‘absolutely not’ I said but then in my head I heard, ‘why not?’. Damn you consciousness! Needless to say, I went straight home, logged onto the team site and signed myself up.
Race morning I found myself totally psyched. I knew it was going to hurt, I can’t remember my last 5k but the hurt is all a part of the fun for me. My trusty pre-race breakfast of applesauce, Vega protein and banana treated me right once again. We packed up the car with extra layers, sleeping bags, hot soup, everything we had to keep us warm between laps. We left the watches at home and the plan was simple; run as strong as we could for each 2.7 mile loop that we had to run. Why put the pressure of clock time on us? This was supposed to be fun.
I was seeded 3rd on my team, I was getting excited watching the other runners. I couldn’t wait to jump in! No warm up for me I simply took the pass off from my teammate Adrian and took off in a full sprint. I leveled off a bit but heart rate did not, I was red lined within 15 seconds. It hurt, I focused on my mantra of joy, took in the beauty of New England fall and hung on for dear life. I finished the first lap in 20:21, 7:32/M.
Between my 1st and 2nd laps I took in fluids, some of the vegan power bars BJ adapted from a recipe online and spent most of my time keeping my legs warm. Sun salutations, foam rolling and good rest with elevated legs wrapped in my sleeping bag had me primed for loop 2.
Before I knew it the bracelet was passed and I was off again. This was the high point of the day. Lungs were open and body was fluid, no tightness just me and my mantra. Although slightly slower this lap went the fastest, I passed off to my teammate Tom in 20:39, 7:39/M. Time to rest up and ready myself for lap 3 the one I secretly hoped would be my last.
After listening to some quick math by trusted teammate Fred, my hope was surely becoming a reality, only one more loop to go. Rumors were abound the the elite team, home of my husband for the day, would be in for at least another 2 laps – the price of speed. On this break, I decided for some hot soup, initial rest followed by dynamic stretching before the final lap. I was excited to have one more stab out there and with the talk of some extra special brew in Ted’s backpack my motivation was high!
Adrian came in strong and handed me off the bracelet for the final time. I took off just as I had in the previous 2 but this time I could feel the tightening of my upper hamstrings and hip flexors. This course has some mini steeps on the backside and I was feeling the efforts I put out earlier. I felt warmed after about a 1/4 mile and continued to push as hard as I could back to camp and finished up with my slowest of the day 20:53, 7:44/M.
I immediately went to the car for some heavy cotton, non-wicking clothes ensuring that this girl was no longer race ready. I bundled up and headed over to enjoy some downtime my teammates. BJ finished up shortly after and we found ourselves amongst lots of laughter. Everyone was reveling in the highs of racing, camaraderie was evident and I felt like I belonged there.
When I think back now I know that part of my initial disinterest was because I didn’t think I was good enough to do this race and that if I showed up I would just be a big disappointment for everyone. Whatever force marched me home and signed me up is the kind of auto pilot I wish to keep engaged. The ego’s idea that we are not good enough or that we are better than others is harmful for everyone. If I listened I wouldn’t have been a part of what I consider a very special day. I know I am not alone in feeling not good enough sometimes but we must remind ourselves that we are always enough. We are perfect just the way we are, don’t let your ego tell you different. Don’t miss out on the special days of life. Our time here is too precious to waste another minute not living our true self.
So gratitude to my teammates for welcoming me, cheering me on and laughing with me. You all brought great joy to my life that day and I’m already looking forward to next year.
Namaste and big congrats to our Fuel Belt elite team that won the whole damn thing!