A tale of a non-runner, November Project, & a Turkey Trot!
I hope you had a good Thanksgiving week. Mine was pretty interesting because I decided to run a Turkey Trot! These races vary from a 1mile fun-run to a 5k, but I let my friends talk me into running an 8-mile turkey trot. That’s the longest I’ve ever attempted to run. While I am into health and fitness, I am a 100-pound weight loss success story, running is one of those things that still is challenging for me, specifically mentally. I’m in the middle of training for a half marathon in a few weeks, so the timing did work out perfectly. It was a chilly morning here in Dallas, probably in the 40s. As long as I have my ears covered and my hands covered, I’m usually pretty good, so I wasn’t too worried about the cold.
I was out there with a group of people called the November project and they’re in a lot of cities around the States in Canada. Music was playing and they had a big inflated turkey and people were running in costumes! It was pretty amazing. I wasn’t trying to set a record or win the race; I just wanted to see if I could run the whole thing.
I was up front in the corral with my friends. We discussed our goals, talked about nerves and how, of course, we all had to pee despite peeing 8 times before the race started. They counted down and we put our playlists in our ears. When the race started, everybody was going at a different pace. It was so challenging to get started and find my groove. “What’s my pace?” So, I told my friend I would follow her as we took off from the starting line because it’s really hard to not compare yourself to the people around you in a race, especially in the beginning when we’re starting and stopping trying to spread out. She zipped out in front of me and I kept her in my sights. I knew I could pace after her in front of me until I got out of the initial congestion and started running.
At the first mile, the app I use to track my running announced the first mile mark and I realized I was running a full minute faster than I normally do. Normally I run about a 9-minute pace per mile when I’m going distance. I was at 8-minutes! I thought, “Wow that’s really impressive!” But I also knew I was probably feeding off the adrenaline of the people around me. I reminded myself not to burn myself out in the next 7 miles.
We came down around a corner and there are two huge, gorgeous in downtown Dallas and I’m running along and I look up and I see runner coming back the other direction on this bridge! I thought: wow! Are these people so far ahead that they’re already coming back or are they random people that are running this morning?! How impressive is that if that’s even possible!
We start getting to the end of the bridge and I thought OH! Maybe the final turn is here on the bridge and those runners were just turning around and they’re not really that far ahead. But no. We were going into an entirely different neighborhood. So I decided there was no way those people could be a part of our race. They must be independent runners.
I was doing all right around the 5-mile mark. A group of people were out in front of a house passing out shots of Wild Turkey, so of course I grabbed one. I quickly realized this was a bad idea because I hadn’t eaten much that day, it was cold, and Wild Turkey hits your chest something fierce even when you’re not trying to run!
We started coming back around the curve through the hills and I was VERY grateful that my Friday runs are always hill runs so I felt semi-prepared. We made it through the hills and came back around to realize that I was aimed right back at those bridges. Not only was I exhausted from the hills and dreading the thought of running back UP the bridge, it hit me that those people I saw 30 minutes ago WERE part of this race and had actually smoked us! They were already done with the race!
I started getting a little discouraged, looking around thinking, “I’m getting passed by children, fat guys, old ladies…” Everytime somebody would pass me, my urge would be to catch up. I had to keep saying to myself, “Run your race, Jimmy. Just run your race.”
I saw other people speed up and fall back over and over again, too. And the one thing I didn’t want to do was stop. The minute you stop when you have momentum, your legs feel like they’re 1000 pounds. The worst feeling is stopping and restarting. So I tried to keep my own pace over the bridge thinking about those incredible people who were so far out in front of me. I trudged up the hill thinking about what’s possible, and something amazing happened. I glanced down over the bridge where I had been looking up at those fast-running people, and I realized a huge mass of people were now watching me cross the bridge. I wondered if they’re looking up at me the way I was looking up at those other people?
Running is like life. If you look back at the starting point, a new endeavor, a fitness program, a business, school, you’re so excited. But when the starting bell rings, we all go at a different pace. And for a while you’re by yourself, you’re having to run your own race. And sometimes you see people so far ahead of you that it’s easy to say, “I could never be them. They’re so much faster than me.” Or the people who start and stop and start and stop after shooting out of the cannon, they seem like they’re way out ahead until you pass them!
The minute we start getting discourage, we have to realize that no matter how slow we think we’re going or how arduous the race is, we’re still steps ahead of other people. YOU are still ahead of someone who hasn’t even chosen to start.
That last mile sucks. No matter what race you’re running. Your brain wants to fight you! You think, “This has got to be the last hill,” for every single hill. The finish line must be right over this once, last hump and then we can coast! Until you get over the mountain that there’s another one, and another one, and the truth is, there really is no finish line.
I’ve been in this business for 10 years. I always thought that once I get to X-level of success, it would be easy. I would coast. Of course, things have become habit and routine, but I work harder now than I ever have.
I’m super nervous about running a half marathon in a few weeks. My goals was to full-sprint across the finish line of 8 miles and while I didn’t exactly sprint, I did finish. And in a few weeks, I’ll have to run that PLUS 5 more miles! There’s always another mountain. The next challenge is waiting.
I don’t know where you are in your race, but I want you to know that you’re always ahead of somebody else. And that’s somebody you can inspire. You can teach somebody something. Even if you’ve only taken 3 steps, you can teach the person who’s only taken 1. You don’t have to wait until you’re finished with a marathon. I hope my stories inspire you to move and help someone else with your own story.