I ran 7 miles last night with the new running group I joined a few weeks ago. My running buddy had warned me that these people thrive on running fast and it takes extra work to keep up with them (actually, they are probably just running an easy pace, but it seems really fast to us). The first time I ran with the group I was a little winded. Then the second time I thought is was no problem at all. By the third time I felt like a pro and had no difficulty keeping up with the fast ones. And then there was last night. Interestingly, my first mile is usually my slowest. It takes me about a mile to get into my running groove. So that meant that when we started running I was at the back of the pack. For some reason, after that first mile, I didn’t feel like I had gotten my groove. I still felt like I was trying too hard and this meant remaining in the back while trying desperately to hang on. Then, all of a sudden, I felt a tweak in my left ankle and I freaked out for a second. As fast as the pain had come, it subsided. That was odd, but I kept trudging forward.
You know, I am not a big fan of all of the water breaks that this group takes along the way, but I have to say that I was very thankful for that first stop. I couldn’t get it out of my mind that this group must be running way faster than they had been in the past. My little running application, Endomondo, was no help to me because I couldn’t turn him off when we stopped since the zipper on my pocket got stuck. However, after the next mile I checked and realized that we were going at about an 8:30 min/mile pace. Pretty darn fast, but definitely not as fast as I had imagined. I can’t be this tired at that speed… maybe later on, but not at mile 3!
Then we came upon the first bridge. I do have to say that my strongest skill is uphill running. I am pretty darn good at running up these bridges. Yep, I started the hill in the back, but by the time I got to the top I was right behind the leader. Now, I know better than to jet down a hill at full speed. That’s what you do if you want to get injured. However, my ego kind of got in the way and I was a bit peeved when those folks behind me decided to go down the bridge as fast as they could. Oh no, I wasn’t going to allow them to pass me. Needless to say, I flew down that bridge. As we ran to the next bridge, I still felt pretty good and I was excited about another hill climb. Well, this time no one would let me pass! I was stuck behind the two leaders all the way up to the top until they decided to do their wildly fast descent. And, yet again, I couldn’t let them get far ahead of me so I followed suit.
You know what my payment was for that stupid move? Excruciating lower back pain for the next 2 miles. I also felt pain in both ankles and I know my body was pretty upset by how hard I was pounding my feet on the pavement. If I didn’t feel old and like I was going to fall apart before, I did right then and there. I even wondered if I would make it back to my car. But, dang it, I couldn’t show any mercy around these people. Somehow I managed to run even faster than I did at the start. All because I didn’t want to have a hit to my ego. I couldn’t let anyone see how those bridges beat me up. On top of that, when we got to our cars I didn’t stop because I wanted to make sure I completed a full 7 miles instead of 6.8. Yep, I was the only one who kept running, but I did it. But then, when I was finished, I kind of felt like a really bad overachiever with obvious ego issues. Do I actually know what it means to run for fun? When I woke up this morning with an aching body, I realized that maybe I learned a little lesson last night: just stick with what feels right and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing!