Back in November I was asked by a friend if I wanted to join their Hood To Coast team. Without thinking twice about it, I said “absolutely!” I tend to do this a lot. I jump and then think about the landing in mid-air. I had no clue what Hood To Coast was, besides an excuse to travel to Portland and escape the heat in the middle of the summer.
Months past, and I actually forgot I agreed to participate in this run until I received an invite to attend the first team meeting. Instantly reality set in. Shit! This is actually happening and this is not one of those past three half-marathons I ran without training. This is a big deal and this time I’m on a team that is depending on me.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with Hood To Coast, it’s the largest relay race spanning 200 miles from Mt. Hood to the Oregon coast. This year there’s more than 1,200 teams (18,00 runners) participating. In order to get into the race, your team has to enter a lottery - which my team has done for the past three years before making it in this year. This race has become so big, that there’s even a movie made about it.
Fast forward several months and the race is now exactly two weeks from today. In fact, I’ll be running my first leg of three around this time two weeks from now. When I agreed to this run, I also didn’t take into account that training runs would be in the middle of summer when the highs are averaging in the 113 degree range and in the upper 90’s even at 5:30am in the morning. With that said, it’s been slightly brutal. My mom’s even worried about me!
Running is a tricky one for me. I have a love/hate relationship with running, these days teetering more on the hatred side, than love. I consider myself to be somewhat athletic (at least in my younger days) and have never really had to work super hard at sports, they’ve always come natural to me. Running? Not so much. I’ve run three half-marathons and a few smaller runs, but never trained for any of them. Simply because I don’t like training and running long distances without hundreds of people cheering me on and the adrenaline that comes along with an organized race. It’s boring. But, is boredom really the reason I don’t enjoy running? So I thought. These past couple of training weeks have taught me a lot about myself and the ability or inability to push myself.
With this race, I obviously have no choice but to train or my team would anialate me before the 11,000 foot elevation would. Accountability is a good thing! I’d lie if I said I didn’t struggle with each long run (hopefully my team isn’t reading this), but today I came to a very important personal realization. It’s not the physical component of running that’s killing me, it’s my lack of mental strength. It doesn’t matter if I have the best shoes (for the record, this is my favorite part of running), the right running watch, or clothes. Running is 90% mental and the rest is physical. So, I’ve read in my recent research on becoming a better runner.
I spoke to a friend today after a frustrating run this morning. Her words, “This is suppose to be fun, so remove the pressure you’re placing on yourself and just have fun.” Duh, I’ve been so caught up on the miles/stress of the event, that I’ve forgot to enjoy this experience.
The point of this lengthy blog post is two prong. First-off, to selfishly motivate and prove to myself that I can do this and no it won’t be easy - but that’s life. Tomorrow, when I head out on my second to last long training run, I’m determined to shift my mindset from dread/fear/etc. to being thankful for this opportunity to run with my friends in an unforgettable race. How often will I get this opportunity?! Secondly, this post is to prove that if I can do this, so can you. And by “this”, I mean pushing yourself beyond what you think you are capable of doing. Whatever that might be.
Mind over matter. It’s time to believe in myself, quit being a baby and just breathe. It’s not that many miles anyway. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, right? At the end of this experience I don’t hope to be an olympic runner, but more importantly I hope to have increased my mental strength - which will be a huge benefit to me in every aspect of life.
As added ammunition before each run, I also plan to also watch this video, per the recommendation of the same friend mentioned above. I bet you can’t watch it without the sudden urge to go to the gym or at least hit the ground and do a few push-ups. Rock.