Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Running with Becky: It's Time for the Bunny Run!

Or rather, it was time last Saturday, which is when I ran my fastest 5k ever!  27:54, which had me finally breaking that elusive 9-minute mark (barely) to average an 8:59 mile.  Too bad no one will ever know this (except people who read this blog) because the race wasn't chipped, and I was toward the middle of the pack, so my time wasn't officially calculated by when I crossed the starting line, but by when the people in the front crossed the starting line.  So my official time was 28:03.

And that, in a circumspect sort of way, brings us to today's topic.

To a certain (alright, extensive) extent I keep much of my personal drama off of this blog; years of writing stupid things in public have made me paranoid.  But I'm going to write this publicly because...well, because I don't care.

As most of you know, I had a bad year last year.  Many, many awful things happened and among those awful things was that all of my friends moved away from Memphis.  I'm kind of a weird, socially-awkward loner type, so it was difficult for me to be 28 years old, taking a hard look at myself, and realize that, like a kindergartener, I had to go make some new friends.

That's how Breakaway so quickly worked its way into my routine.  For one, most runners are weird, socially-awkward loner types, so I was in good company.  Also, there was free beer, and also, my plodding slowness gave everyone something they could talk to me about.  Like, "What's your name?  Nice to meet you, Becky.  Let me tell you how much you suck and then offer you some tips to get faster."

And now it's many months later and I (sort of) have friends again.

The problem with this group, though, is that they all date amongst themselves and there are very complicated undertones of jealousy and competition that span across both the athletic and personal side of things.  Every month that goes by, I learn something new or something else happens and the story gets more complicated.  So far, I have been little more than an outside observer, but even from that standpoint, I sometimes feel claustrophobic, like I'm in the middle of a soap opera and none of the other characters have caught on yet that I'm not part of the drama.

In a couple of different ways, then, despite any burgeoning friendships, I'm not part of the group.  Not really.  I don't run fast enough, I don't wantonly throw myself at every guy who talks to me, and did I mention I don't run fast enough?

I often tell people that I show up to the weekly runs because they keep me humble.  Working at something and remaining solidly bottom-of-the-Bell-Curve at it is not something I've had much experience with; after years of running, I remain slow.  Slower than many beginners.  And a regular dose of humility never hurt anybody...

But a couple of things happened on Saturday that upset me and I'm trying to reconcile why.

First, though I ran my best 5k ever, I was the slowest person of anyone I knew (and I knew many, many people at this race).  That wouldn't have bothered me so much except several of those people ran very similar times, and in comparison to that subset, I was slower by one to one-and-a-half minutes.  So close...  It's as it is every time I show up to any run with this group.  I get faster but they do too.  And I just can't ever catch up.  I can see them ahead of me but I can't get there.  On a logical level, yes, I know that I have plateaued and that is a natural part of the cycle of improvement...but on a psychological level, this seems to be reflective of how my entire life is going right now.  It doesn't matter how hard I work, everyone else is in front of me, just out of reach...

Then, later that day, plans that I had made far in advance fell through in an unnecessarily antagonistic way.  And the same feeling swelled up again.  What am I doing wrong?  Why is it so easy for other people to get together with a friend like a normal person (or run fast, or find a job, or whatever) when for me, it seems as if the simplest things take extensive effort?

First I was bothered by all of this because 'life isn't fair.'  Then I was bothered that I had taken any of it so personally.  I know better than that.

Running is a solo endeavor; it's you moving your body forward.  The successes are as personal as the act itself.  Not everyone has the same abilities and I should be happy that I ran this race five and a half minutes faster than I did last year.  That's as far as my thinking needs to go.

Likewise, see above about runners being weird, socially-awkward loner types.  Sometimes plans fall through.

For as long as I have been going to Breakway's free runs, I've been down.  I've been as down as I've ever been in my life and then I went down even further from there.  I've been flat on my face since the month of August, but there have been a few glimmers of hope these past few weeks which have made me think that maybe, just maybe, I'm finally starting to pull myself together.

As someone who, prior to being down, excelled at most things and effortlessly came out on top more often than not, it's a struggle to rewire the way I think.  But that is what I'm making an effort to do.  I ran a really good race on Saturday and I hope that by the next time I do so, I'm fully able to focus on that and myself, and not on what's going on with everyone else.

And I really need to stop thinking that a lack of constant success means I'm doing something wrong.  So often I'm the one telling others that shit just happens.  I never tell people that "everything happens for a reason" because I don't believe that.  But I do believe that you define who you are by how you deal with what comes your way.  Apparently my biggest problem right now is that I don't spend enough time listening to my own advice...


  1. You caught me off guard with this post, from the title I expected a tale of you having to watch/take part in some easter fancy dress themed race..couldn't be more wrong!

    Can completely identify with this post, having felt a similar way 18 months ago. On first reading I was worried about you. Think the emotions you aroused hit home with memories from that time, but on a second reading I realised, like we've commented before about trying to stay positive, you're made of stronger stuff. I love your thinking on 'defining who you are by dealing with what comes you way'. I think it's so true, although I am a believer in things happening for a reason, I also firmly believe you can influence your own fate through your attitude and actions.

    You definitely need to listen to your own advice, it's good stuff :)

    And well done on the time...just think how sweet it will feel when all the others hit the plateau and you catch them up...it will happen...eventually, just maybe not as quickly as you'd like xx

  2. Daing how awesome you set a new PB that's great! I need to e-mail you! I've been russish on so many levels!

    Kisses darling
    Pussy / NRM / so many other things! :)

  3. i totally admire you for running, and keeping with it.

    im also a slow runner, who HATES running. when i found yoga/pilates, i was so psyched. i could be fit and not have to run, even though running always really helped me mentally. so recently i started back at it, and i swear to god there are little turtles on the side of the road, pacing me and laughing.

    im not going to pepper this with inspirational phrases, but i will say that you are doing fantastic. <3

  4. I'm so proud of you for even running the damn race! I must admit that I wimped out on calling because the memories of that race are a bit overwhelming and just make me miss you. Why am I writing this for all the world to read? I don't know!

    Comparing ourselves to others is one of the worst of human traits. It either leads to pride or self pity. I wish I could just be content with me, where I am in my life and not constantly compare myself to others. You kicked that races butt, and you are being so brave to try making new friends. I wish you had an honest to goodness cheerleader in that group who wasn't either constantly telling you to run faster or get in your pants.

    I'll shut up now : ). We should talk soon!

  5. PG, how do you manage to write what I feel??? Maybe not on the same subject but in the over all perspective. And how come we both are good with advice for others but can't help ourselfs seemingly?

    Here is to the weirdo-loner-type (tho no running here, which I def should start again - just for the sake of it and me having something else in my life to do and hate at the same time -.-" )


  6. And to think, I didn't even mean to write this post... :) Originally I was going to leave it at the first paragraph...but then I was mad about being blown off Saturday night (among other male-related things) so I continued for many, many paragraphs about how stupid (and dismissive) guys can be...and then I woke up the next morning and realized it had very little to do with guys and a lot to do with me and my attitude. So I rewrote it.

    As I'm sure I've said many times before, I often get nervous after putting up entries like this, but you guys never fail to respond with the most supportive and HONEST comments. Thank you for putting up with my melodrama and especially thank you for encouraging me. The more I experience in life, the more I've come to appreciate the value of people who are REAL. You guys are all real and I'm *so glad* I know each of you. (God, I sound hormonal - but it's true!)

    Storms came through (again!) last night and I've been without power for about 18 hours. I came over to my parents' house to check my e-mail, etc, and this discussion was a welcome surprise. :)

    And Meg, yes, let's talk soon!! I forgot my phone charger - dammit! - but as soon as the power is back and I can talk without risking a random cutoff as the battery dies, I'll call you!

  7. Thanks for giving us something to laugh, to ponder, to relate and so much more :) XOXOX

    completely off-topic: I can't comment anymore in ISJ :´( #criesariver It just won't let me. It always wants me to log in - but I don't have that f-ing google-account and never will, because google is the greates stalker ever!


  8. The anonymous function isn't working, then?! :( This is not good. I'll do some looking and see if Blogger is (once again) having problems... I'm sorry!! :(

  9. yep, anonymus and name/url isn't working. #stupidthing :/ don't be sorry - not your fault :)


  10. I meant to comment on this post forever, it's just when I first read it, I wasn't sure exactly how to say what I wanted to say - cause I wanted it to be heartfelt and sincere and encouraging all at one. And then everyone else said things so eloquently and now I don't know what to say...

    I guess; congrats on the time and TONS AND TONS OF HUGS!!!

    ...also But I do believe that you define who you are by how you deal with what comes your way SO well put, and so true. <3

  11. Thank you, Linna. :) It's strange how these things come in cycles, too! This week I'm feeling much better about things than I did when I wrote this, but I also know that I will inevitably come back down again (probably about the same time I run my next race ;)). I really appreciate all the support and comments...and perhaps I should re-read through all of this before the next time to stave off any negativity on my part!!

  12. I know! One week, or few days, can feel like shit and then all of a sudden you feel great and all positive again. And the other way around. Life can be so weird ;-)

    It's just such a shame that something that should make you feel good about yourself - and by itself, endorphines and all - gets you down, especially that people's jealousy and competitiveness gets in the way of you feeling like you've achieved something great. Because you have! Tons of things! You're awesome!! *hugs*

  13. If this was Facebook, I'd give that comment a huge LIKE! :D Thank you, Linna. :)

  14. You're welcome my dear :)