Expectations are tricky. We set them high, push ourselves, feel the hope and excitement of trying to meet them, only to be let down from time to time.
It’s the let-down that stings. It breaks our spirit, forces us backward and discourages us from taking on the most familiar of tasks.
At least, that’s how it felt Saturday morning when I got up to run what’s become my most familiar route this year. After last week’s half marathon miss, I felt hesitant and, quite frankly, a little self-conscious heading out there for my usual Saturday long run. I found myself with plenty of reasons to procrastinate: My 3-year-old woke me up in the middle of the night so I needed extra sleep; I needed an extra cup of coffee; the temperature was waning on that cusp of long- vs. short-sleeve weather. I could go on.
What was I waiting for? What was I afraid of? Well, I needed a good run to sort that out, but that’s exactly what was holding me back. My last long run the week before had been my race — my goal. I had set an expectation for myself to finish it in under two-hours and that didn’t happen.
So here I was with no more race to train for. No training plan to push me out the door. No running partner to meet. No reason to run, other than this crazy running streak I’ve been on all year. And the truth is, because I missed the mark so badly in last week’s race, I felt like I had no business being out there.
I know it’s crazy to think I was less of runner for not meeting my self-imposed race expectations, but that’s what goal-setting can do — at least, when we don’t meet the meet goal. I’ve been streaking through this year experiencing running highs and lows, trying to find consistency in my running and needing to reconnect with my inner-runner.
Although I fell short of my expectations, I have found that consistency, and with consistency I’ve found strength. My body is strong. My legs are defined. While I might not be fast, I could run for hours — and get up and do it all over again tomorrow. The shape of my face and my body have changed thanks to the training plan I’ve followed for the past few months. I feel a bit deflated and heavy with defeat because of my race, but I’ve accomplished what I set out to do this year:
- My clothes don’t pull and bunch like they did in January. As a matter of fact, I just picked up a bunch of pants at the tailor because they had to be taken in.
- I don’t find excuses to sit on the couch and be lazy. I find excuses to sneak in a run.
- I eat better. I can’t say I’ve eaten better this week, but I have PMS and just ran my last race of the year. I’m at peace with the bad food decisions of this week.
- I’ve found time to run every day for 328 days — even at my worst.
- I feel like a runner again.
I eventually got out there Saturday morning. I didn’t look at my time, but just ran. I logged between seven and eight miles, and I stopped to take a few pictures along the way because my 7-year-old thinks I have “amazing” adventures on my weekend long runs. (I tell her about rescuing dogs, seeing giant slugs and having to pee in the woods; this is what makes a rock star to a 7 year old.)
It was a good run. Leaves are still turning and the weather is still mild. I enjoyed the scenery and just let myself ease into that familiar rhythm.
I’ve decided I’m ready for more: Signed up for another half marathon.