One of the joys of #thecomeback is not racing. OK, I am totally lying. Not racing is one of the worst parts of coming back from 4 months of not running; especially when you have a really large running network and at least one person seems to be racing every weekend. What makes it even worse is that because I am running 3-4 times a week, I am totally convinced I am back to full strength. Combine this total self-delusion with having some badass friends who dominated the New York City Marathon last weekend and I am itching for that start gun. Enter the Berkeley Half Marathon. A beautiful, scenic course basically in my back yard. For once I wouldn’t have to cross a bridge to race and I could conquer to FOMO (fear or missing out) demons still haunting me from missing last years inaugural race due to injury. This was going to be my comeback race. Or not.
In the end, I didn’t end up racing on Sunday. I didn’t even register for the race. I decided it would be the smart option for the long run (see what I did there) to not rush into racing again, even though every fiber of my being was screaming for it. I decided my type A planning and race ready mental energy would be better put to use if I hosted 30 runners and spectators from November Project for brunch after the race. I feel 95% confident I made the right call. I didn’t make it out to cheer like I had wanted to but I did get to bask in all the amazing post race glory and soreness of my friends. I won’t lie, it was hard hearing about all the gory, glorious race details but it was also an opportunity for me to grow. Instead of thinking in the back of my head how I would have done something differently or wondering if I could beat this person or being excited to tell about how my race went, not racing has taught me how look beyond myself and really listen to how my friends did. For the first time I feel like I really connected with many different people about their race experiences because I felt invested in them. Two guys totally killed it and set personal records. Another overcame some tough race conditions to beat his time from another half a few months ago and almost beat his personal record. Yet another friend totally destroyed her PR from just a few weeks ago by over 10 minutes. Part of me felt envious of the calf cramps, post-race nausea and sore muscles that accompany race-day glory, but most of me was just glad to be able to offer a congratulatory hug, and ice pack and some pumpkin pie waffles. Ok and maybe a mimosa or two.
Racing is a great way to learn about one’s physical and mental strengths and abilities, but I would argue sometimes not racing can teach us a more powerful lesson about humility and compassion. Oh and pumpkin pie waffles. That’s an important lesson too.