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Fighting The Beast and Losing: A Runner’s Lament

It was between mile six and seven on the most challenging course I’ve had to date. To put it bluntly, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon was kicking my ass. It hit me harder than anything I’ve ever felt before - that mental beast that tells you it’s over. He tells you that you can’t go any farther, just give up. He says “Why do you do this to yourself? why do you even LIKE doing these things?” Yea, that’s the beast. I’ve had little thoughts before, simple thoughts along the lines of “my legs are tired” but I can usually snap myself right out of them. This is different, it’s crippling and you have to confront it head on.

I did confront it with a lot of internal cheer leading and chanting - really, chanting is very helpful. I persevered and had an incredible runners high as I rounded a bend overlooking the cliffs of Ocean Beach, finishing the race strong. This time I had beat him.

Well, the next time I didn’t win that battle.

The whole race started off wrong. This beast was of a different nature, he crept in slowly and proceeded to dig deep into my running soul. There were some outside factors that fed into the beast, like a full on standstill from crowds running across the Golden Gate Bridge, putting me in a bad state of mind. This followed by an intense uphill climb that was my the hardest incline to date. It wasn’t really the hill that crushed me, it was the downhill. Bad pacing and hard impact hurt my strength. To cut this story short, I finished with a lot of walking, limping and some tears.

I lost. This was the first time I’ve experienced a completely debilitating defeat in my life.

This is the part where I talk about how I did overcome, except I haven’t yet. I haven’t signed up for my next half marathon and I only went for a brief three mile run this evening - which ended with a cramp in my side.

The big question is why do I do this? What is it about the mental and physical punishment where I find worth? Overall, it’s the feeling of accomplishment. If anyone has completed a race they understand that emotion when you cross the finish line. It’s also the level of commitment leading up to a race - I’m a sucker for routine and the evidence of positive change is invigorating. Seeing your average pace get faster each week is thenerdiest coolest thing ever!

I haven’t quite figured out my game plan but I do know that I hate losing. What I do know is that I will keep running.