Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Embrace the High

Today the results for the Summer Series posted online, and my entire feelings towards the races changed with the results.

On Sunday, as we were coming down that lengthy hill, I mentioned that although the series concept seemed like a great idea, the actual completion of the races wasn’t nearly as fun as it sounded. I was frustrated with two poor performances, and I was struggling with why I wanted to do this. I wrote my race report, which I’m sure sounded as grumpy as I felt after a tough race…

… and then the overall results posted this morning, and my entire frame of mind changed. This series is unusual because you earn points based on every race that you finish. There are 5 races, and your top 4 scores count towards the overall total. You can imagine how exciting this is to someone who’s definitely a back of the packer – it means I can actually beat people who WIN a race, just by plugging along through several races.

My official results are 170th of 744 women, 20th of 97 women in my 25-29 age group, and with a total of 1914 points!

By working through each race – the good and the bad – I was able to finish in the top 20% of my age group, and the top 22% of women overall! When you compare that to my single race results (for example, the 5th race I was 35 of 36 women in my age group) I’m sure you can see how exciting it is for me to finish in the first quarter of the group, rather than at the very bottom.

It’s a good feeling when you feel like the work you’re putting in pays off. It’s amazing how looking at the results from an overall perspective, rather than a combination of races has improved my feeling on my progress.

On that note, today was truly a red letter day. Not only did I finish in the top 25% of Series, but I also ran 5 miles for the first time ever. For those of you who are ironmen, that may seem like not a big deal at all – but for a slow poke that requires lots of recovery, and takes about 80 minutes to run 5 miles, it’s a huge accomplishment. It’s the culmination of 2 years of hard work, planning, learning MY limits, and slowly building up the mileage. Some people can go from no miles to a marathon in 12 weeks. At this point, I’ll be marathon ready in 2012 – right in time for the London Olympics!

I’ve long thought that the runner’s high came about 15 minutes after I finished running, and only then if I embraced it. If I get home, and immediately jump on the computer and start working, I can actually miss it all together. But if I take a couple of minutes to stretch and keep the music going, I can enjoy that free flowing feeling –the one that makes me giggle for no reason, and dance around the house like a lunatic, with a glowing big grin on my face.

However, during that epic 5 miler today, for the first time I experienced the runner’s high during the run. Granted it happened 1 minute before my cool down started, but it happened. I think it was a combination of a good powerful spot in my podrunner mix, the feeling of success in knowing that I was going to hit 5 miles, and relief that it was almost over. It felt great though – goosebumps, all of a sudden my energy jumped up, and my stride became natural and easy again. I actually bumped up my cool down pace slightly so I could enjoy it for at least a minute more.

The runner’s high reminds me that sometimes you have to slow the pace of your life. You can’t jump from one task to the next without allowing yourself to absorb what you have done – otherwise you’re missing out on a feeling of accomplishment, you’re missing out on your successes, and you’re missing out on opportunities for improvement. Sometimes you need to think about what you are actually doing, and put it into perspective by looking at what you were doing this time last year, and where you want to be next year.

Embrace the high!

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