|Not the actual "Running Grandma".|
I wake up and no longer feel like vomiting, so I figure that I better get my ass out there and run. Any other Saturday, that's what I'd do. I'd run.
In a daze, I don my running shorts and shirt and lace-up my shoes. I force a bit of food down on my way out the door. I decide to go to my usual spot - the park - to run the trails. I stretch and still feel fine. I do a 5-minute warm-up walk and still feel fine. I then work myself up to a comfortable pace and begin to run.
What is a normal Saturday run for me? I run about 10K - 6.2 miles - and maintain about a 10 to 11-minute mile pace. I'm not the fastest runner on Earth, but I'm not the absolute slowest, either. I always finish that 6 miles.
Not today. I ran the first 10 minutes like I was a newbie. I was panting, sweating profusely, and began to feel dehydrated. It's at this point that I should mention that the 24-hour bug I was coming off of was, indeed, a stomach bug, so I was dehydrated. I had also neglected to purchase a hydration belt (I promptly did so later that day), which is designed to help me bring fluids on my run.
It was about a mile into the run that I slowed to a snail's pace, only to veer off to the side of the course and dry heave. So, I might have still been recovering. I might have been a little too optimistic about my chances of running a normal run that morning.
After I straighten myself up, I look at my phone, which tracks my pace and distance. I've got 2 miles to go before I even get back to my car. So, I begin to walk. I resign myself to the fact that I will not be running 6.2 miles this morning - hell, I won't be running at all - but I will absolutely finish that 3.1 miles, even if I have to walk the whole way.
It was a hard walk, too. I was sweating more walking that distance than I normally do when I run. This was my body's way of screaming at me "What are you doing?!? You idiot!" Yes, body, I hear your message loud and clear. Now, I need you to do me one favor - carry me home.
Finally, feeling more than a little queasy and disappointed in myself, I wind my way to the trail entrance. I look at my phone again - it reads 3.1 miles. I walked it in about 50 minutes. Damn. I hang my head low and try to catch my breath.
I hear a foot slap up on the bench next to me. It's this little old lady who I have dubbed, in my own mind, to be "Running Grandma". She's probably in her late 70s and and kick my ass in royal fashion in a run. Since most of us tend to run at the same time each day, you usually see the same several people on the trails. Running Grandma is one of them. She speaks to everyone and will stroll up along side of you and carry on a conversation about your run, your family, or just how lovely the weather is. For her, running is more than just a way to stay young - it's clearly a social activity.
Running Grandma's foot hits the bench and she starts to stretch. She looks at my face - beet red from nausea - and says, "Had a rough run, honey?"
I shake my head and give a little laugh. "Rough run would be an understatement."
She smiles, puts her hand on my shoulder, and says words that I have heard in varying phrases before, but that from her wisdom I will never forget.
"That's okay. You're doing better than everyone who is still in bed right now." She smiles again and wishes me a good day as she starts to run.
As I lean back on the bench, I think to myself about her words - and I smile. She's right. I had, for lack of a better word - a crappy run; however, I managed to get out and get moving that morning. There was no failure in my run that day. There was victory in the fact that I ran - or walked - at all.
It's a good lesson that doesn't just apply to running. There really is no failure in not meeting expectations. The only failure that exists is by not attempting challenges in the first place. The attempt, regardless of the result, is the victory.