Running past 50: the tyranny of perfection

Halfway through my 10 mile run this past Saturday, the thought came to me: thank god. The tyranny of perfection is behind me.

I completed my 10 mile goal which I’d set back at the beginning of Feb, a little ahead of schedule but by necessity as this weekend was the window of opportunity. I was excited, especially after last Saturday’s 9.25 mile excellent, nay, perfect run. I talked myself down by reminding myself: it’s not likely to be that great every time, cool your jets, girlie.

But I had no idea it would be this bad.

Saturday offered up some pretty lousy weather, rain and wind, gray and cold. I can stand all of it, but wind is what I dread. I checked Intellicast for the wind report but no let-up was in the cards. I felt dreary about it all, suddenly. As the morning wore on, however, I gave myself a talking to…window of opportunity, the importance of setting and reaching a goal that’s all your own, how great I’d feel afterwards…

And I decided to just do it, come hell or high water. I felt excited again, could sense some adrenaline building as I filled my little water flasks, got dressed, stretched and did my core exercises. I checked my course one last time to make sure I knew where to turn around and then I headed out.

I drove to the starting point, hit the button on my running watch and headed out. At first, the weather felt a little balmy. I could imagine this turning out well, especially when I saw a broad rainbow across the ferry run between Bainbridge and downtown Seattle. But then, just as suddenly, the wind kicked up a bit. No problem, I can do this, I said. I rounded the corner at the lighthouse and headed for the long stretch along Alki Beach.

As I headed into my second mile, the wind was picking up a bit more but still not a problem. The sun had slipped away behind rolling billowing clouds. At the Duwamish Head, things got dicey. I was now leaning into the wind and I could feel my energy getting tapped way too soon.

As I headed into the fourth and fifth miles, I knew this was going to be very far from a perfect run. I had to take a brief walking breaks, long before the 60 minute mark, and though I tried to laugh it all off with the perspective of last week to this week’s very far from perfect run, I was feeling an extra pull on my energy.

No energy drain was going to keep me from attaining my goal, though, and that was that. I got to the five mile mark and turned around. At last the wind was at my back…for 1.25 miles. Again when I hit the Duwamish point, the wind had turned slightly and incredibly, I was running into it again.

I knew then that this was going to be a long slog because since it was a S-SW wind–I’d be heading into it from here on out. So I gave myself over to it, paced my walking breaks…and lowered my expectations. STill, though I wasn’t fast–11 minute miles–I did finish what I’d started, and that was what counted for me. I was sore and very tired by the end, depressingly so, since I was so excited to complete this project. But I finished, I hit 10.1 miles and had not one drop of energy left to do much of anything but drive home and do my yoga after-run stretches.

I now know what’s involved in ramping up distance, I know I can do it, and I know how to work with my body to avoid too much wear and tear. I’ll sign up for my first half-marathon soon–this after running my first 5K just last summer. I wish it had been a more uplifting 10 miles, but it was what it was. And after all, perfection really is a sort of tyranny, isn’t it?

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