Starting my second month of training, this 26.2 mile thing is beginning to look more and more like a joke. My stride and pace seem to have slowed considerably since last year. Saturday I came in last place in the girls C-team Cross Country race for East. In freshman year I ran down the hill at the end of the race in a dead sprint, setting a personal record. This year, I timed in about six minutes slower than my original 20 minutes and 19 seconds. I finished the race sobbing. It was mainly out of fatigue, but the humiliation of coming sixth to last overall and receiving the pity-clap from complete strangers wasn’t a fantastic experience either.
In Cross Country, we’ve been focusing on getting in the distance lately. We run around 20 miles per week. On a whim, I got on Pinterest and stalked a few running boards. I checked out the weekly mileage a marathoner should be hitting to survive their big race, and according to the Pop Sugar Beginner Marathon Training Program, it totaled out to be somewhere between 30-45 miles.
The longest most people even run before a marathon is 20 miles. They jog the rest of it completely on will power.
My dad has agreed to become my personal trainer for the months to come. That means he’ll be the one trying to convince me not to drop out of the race at the third mile, dressing my pug up as a running shoe or something and cheering me on with his cowbells.
He was the exact opposite of me in high school: breaking every record there was to break that had to do with a track and a pair of tennis shoes. We have an entire cork-board of first place medals downstairs.
If I don’t chicken out or die during this thing, I’m dedicating it to him.
About two weeks ago, during our stretching session, the head Cross Country coach called about nine other girls and I over. As I joined her and the other girls in the middle of the stretch circle, I did a quick around me and saw that most of the girls were near me time-wise. We all became aware of what the coach was going to say about the same time–we were the bottom of C-team.
Sure enough, she started it off with a “You are all such wonderful girls” and then surged into the talk about how none of us were actually in good enough shape to run Cross Country, one of the school’s only no-cut sports. She warned us that if we didn’t start running more during practices, she’d have no choice but to cut us from the races.
It was extremely embarrassing, but I think it might have been a blessing in disguise. Combined with my last-place finish at last week’s race, I think I’ve been due for a wake-up call for some time now. Now that I realize how awful I actually am, I can do what I do best: prove people wrong. I can’t help but feel a little bit optimistic about where I am. I can’t run it quick, but I can certainly jog out a solid four miles. And looking at this week’s 26:32 time, I literally can only improve. Thank God.