Defining Ourselves


Something amazing happened to me last night.  During a track workout, no less.
The fact that I even wrote that sentence is so odd, because I don’t usually do track workouts.  Or really run that much.  But this year I’m attempting to do things outside my comfort zone.  Or just try new stuff.  I am attempting to not define myself by what has come previously in my 46 years.
Thus why I am even on a track at 6 pm on a Wednesday eve.  The tape in my head says: “I am not a runner.”  But, could I be one?  Might I actually enjoy being one?
Last night I worked hard to re-record that tape with a new message.  I pushed it.  When Kim, the coach of Team LOLA Ladies, explained that we were going to be running 4 sets of 2 laps around the track, I said to myself, “One at a time.”  When she suggested we try to do a negative split, which is either the second lap faster than the first or the second 2-lapper faster than the 1st 2-lapper, I said, “One at a time.”
I watched the disappearing back of a woman who had told us she had just completed her first half Ironman, and another tall gazelle of a woman on that first 2 lapper.  I couldn’t even keep up with them, hitting the last turn as they crossed the finish at the other end of the field.  On the second one, I asked myself to just keep them a bit closer, and to really try on the last straightaway.  I finished right behind them.  On the third one, I encouraged myself to dig a bit deeper, and passed them right at the end.
On the last one, the two girls that I had been happily following made me go first.  I didn’t want to do that, because I liked following them.  It felt more comfortable.  I mean, they were runners.  I was just hanging on as long as I could.
But the one said (and I’m not sure who, because she was behind me) she didn’t want me to pass her again at the end, because she was giving it all she had and then I would pass her.  And the other one said, “Hell, own it girl.”  Or something to that effect.
I ran faster than I thought I could those 2 laps, and it felt great.  And then Kim asked us to do one final lap.  What would it feel like, she asked, to give it all we had?  To turn the dial to 9 at some point, maybe just at the end.  How often do we get to ask ourselves to really dig deep.  She promised we would recover.  She promised no matter how much it would hurt, it would pass.  So on the last sprint lap, I bolted at the beginning, and around that second of three turns, when it started to HURT HURT HURT, the voice inside said, “You can pull up and slow now, Sue, because you’re not really a runner.  You don’t have it.”
The voice said, “You can stop.  It’s ok.”
But then I heard the hard breathing of someone coming up behind me, and damn if I didn’t want to give up.
If she could, whoever she was, I could.  So I kept going, even though it hurt so much.  And when I hit the straightaway and my breathing was all funky and raw, I gave it all I had left and turned it up to 9.  I crossed the line first.
I’m telling you, we are so much stronger than we think.  In all realms.
And today, Thursday the 29th of March, I can’t use the excuse that I’m not a runner.  Because now I am.  And I wonder where this new recording inside my head will take me.


Filed under Beautiful things

13 responses to “Defining Ourselves

  1. pv

    you are a runner. and some day I guess I’ll have to be a swimmer. or biker or yogi or some other such nonsense. But I do know the lean in a curve of a track, the feeling of bursting out of the blocks, knowing the taste of victory. and giving it everything you have. And I miss it. And I want to make sure I do that again in my life. and you just reminded me I can.

    • Pau – You are a swimmer. You swim, maybe not as well as you’d like, but if you didn’t swim, you’d drown, which you don’t do. You bike. I’ve seen you bike, fast, although you can’t count. The yogi thing, I have no idea. But I do know you will run again. You just need to practice a new thing: being patient. The hardest thing to be of all. You’ll get there …

  2. Wow. You rock. Pushing myself. New concept. I’ve done it before and I forgot what it is like. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Delighted to help. Really, my thanks to Kim, who suggested that I share this story. Who knew, Kim, it would hit such a nerve?

      • I just knew that people needed to read about your beautifully written track experience. Your “running self” has and will continue to inspire others in whatever their challenges and goals may be. And remember….you can push outside your comfort zone and you WILL recover. One foot in front of the other….you will get to the finish line!

  3. Jen

    Beautiful post! It was an honor to be on that track with you. You pushed us all to be better, be stronger. You should own it girl!!

    • There was some real power in that group. As I was weezing post finish line, each time I heard Kim congratulate everyone on how hard they were working. It’s contagious. We do push each other!

  4. Cara

    The concept that our thoughts, words and actions define us, is a hard one for so many to grasp. We are not what others say, we are what we say, do and think. I’ve been a personal trainer and physical educator for my whole careeer for the sole purpose of helping others experience the empowerment that comes from moving. What a beautiful example you have posted!

    • Cara – “We are not what others say. We are what we say.” I love that. Feels so powerful and SIMPLE. So simple.

      We are what we say. Get’s back to that our thoughts have a life. Have energy. Good stuff. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Way to go! I started running at age 40, and it is the one and only form of exercise that I enjoy. What a surprise that was to me. I am now 45, and recouping from a mastectomy, but I cannot wait to lace up my Nikes and hit the track again.
    Great example of the messages we program into ourselves. For the past year I have been saying “I have cancer”. I am getting rid of that one and replacing it with, “I am healthy and fit”. Yeah, that sounds about right.
    Cancer Warrior

  6. Lisa

    You are such a beautiful writer. You could make a grocery list inspiring.

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