A year is both a long period of time and a blink of an eye. I can't believe it's been nearly a year since I crawled onto a treadmill in little Tahoe City for five mile runs at 8 minute per mile pace with the feebly rekindled desire to try and qualify for the Olympic Trials in the marathon event. I was crazy, I think now that I'm three days away from the race I had hoped would change my life. I admire that craziness, that spark which kept me coming back, day after day, mile after mile despite the painful bits of skin rubbed raw between my thighs and underneath my breasts. Despite the cold and snow, despite having no one but Steve to believe in me, I trained. Despite setbacks like injury and doubt-- so much alike, I've learned-- I kept going back to that little gym, stepping onto the treadmill to train in the pursuit of this dream that is so much a part of me, I cannot imagine my life without it.
I am Rebecca, I will say if you meet me, followed by, I am a runner.
It's so hard, after all of that and three days away from this race I'd hoped to use as an Olympic Qualifier to acknowledge that this is not yet my time.
I had a long conversation with my coach this evening. We agreed there is a trials qualifier in this body of mine. It might even be bubbling just beneath the surface of my ligaments and connective tissues; yet, since this training cycle has been so up and down, there's no way of knowing if my body can handle 6:20 pace for 26.2 miles.
It's so hard to write that. After all those miles.
Yet, it's honest, too. And if I do have aspirations to compete in the Olympic Trials, I have to be brave. Brave enough to face myself as I am. To face this face in the mirror and know who and what I truly am. And so: today I did exactly that. I looked into the depths of me and found that this is not yet my time. Not yet.
I'm fitter than I have ever been. But I am also young and I have time on my side. My ultimate goal is to live the running life-- to be the absolute best I can be in this lifetime of mine. Killing myself this coming Sunday will not make me reach my fullest potential (even if I do kill myself and qualify, I am still nowhere near where I need to be in order to be considered an elite marathon runner). What I need instead of pain is to learn-- to learn how to race for 26.2 miles, to run with restraint and control. And in order to do that, my coach and I decided this Sunday I will run a conservative race.
I will go out at 2:50 pace (6:29 x mile) and assess how I feel at the half. The goal: to run negative splits (the second half of the race faster than the first) and to have enough of my wits about me to remember this race, to remember where I pushed and where I felt like I couldn't. Where I could improve, the next time around.
There will be a next time.
Many next times.
I think this is a smart choice. I will recover faster. I will-- I believe-- allow myself the opportunity to heal, to increase my weekly mileage. And I will have a year ahead of me to qualify.
You aren't failing, my coach told me and though I know he's right, there's a part of me that's a little sad over all of this. All those dreams of "glory"-- once again deferred. But better deferred than made impossible.
Here again the truth of long distance running is revealed to me: it's not the Hollywood version of racing that is success (the performance of a lifetime that has viewers shocked in the film's final moments.) Its instead the races over a lifetime-- with lifetime underscored. It's the truth learned from all the miles-- each and every one, no matter how quickly they are executed-- and all the races, and most importantly, all the minuscule steps of progress made along the way.
And the knowledge I hold secure next to my heart which warms me, like a fire blazing strong: I will never stop.
I believe. I believe in me.