My half marathon Sunday got me thinking. This isn't unusual - I generally do think while I run, but I dug deep on Sunday.
Maybe it was the beautiful weather and the streams of speedy runners passing me. Maybe it was my lack of training and just trudging forward. Maybe it was all of it. But it got me to thinking how running is not a race against others; it really is a race against yourself.
Now, I know this isn't a novel concept. It's been said time and again that you're only running against yourself, even if you're in a competitive race because if you let your mind beat you, your body will beat you too and in the end you'll be beat.
But it really triggered as I watched women and men of varying shapes and sizes run 13.1 miles. There isn't a set body type for running. Anyone can run (like Ratatouille where anyone can cook!)! And truth - you can be fat and fast, you can be thin and slow. You can be old and run, you could be young and not able. There are no hang ups. You just have to lace up the shoes (or not, if you're a barefooted fiend) and go.
As I would pass runners or (more often) was passed by runners, I realized that I'm not running against them. I'm running with them. There were women who passed me who initially I judged that they shouldn't be because they were heavier or older - but they had trained better. There were women and men I passed who I initially thought I shouldn't be - they looked like they should be in shape and able to run like greased lightning - but I don't know what was wrong. They could have been in pain (as I was with my back), they could have been on the verge of throwing up, they could have just been lost in thought and got their rhythm off, they could have been using their walk/run training program ...
Basically what I'm saying is there are a myriad of reasons why people run, why people run or walk they way they do, why they are walking at that moment, why they can run as fast or as slow as they do... all of this should mean nothing. Use it as an inspiration, but don't judge the other runners. They are out there with you, running or walking as you are, and all hoping for the same outcome - to finish, with a respectable time (for them), and get the medal/t-shirt.
I'm not in my greatest shape this year, and Sunday proved that. But I was able to finish with a semi-respectable time given my training. Others trained harder and didn't make it. Others probably trained less and did better. But the truth was, the race was only a race against me. Could my head and heart hold out long enough to give me the strength and stamina and endurance to finish? Yes. Yes it can.