Tomorrow is race day, which means today I start coming up with some excuses.
Since the day I started racing I started making excuses.
Once in high school I told my coach I might have a bad race because I had some pudding for lunch. It wasn’t the pudding I was worried about, it was that the pudding was refrigerated, then unrefrigerated, then refrigerated again, then unrefrigerated AGAIN, and then I ATE IT! And you’re not supposed to eat pudding that’s gone through such a refrigeration roller coaster…and then run…ARE YOU?
This is what my coach said: “Go warm up.”
In retrospect, I should have been thankful he didn’t give me more of a reaction considering I was a senior in high school, the race was the District Championships and I was the captain of the cross country team.
I’ve been making excuses ever since: I’m not a morning runner, I have allergies, injuries, illness, exhaustion, bad shoes, and did you know I have broken sesamoids in my foot? I do.
Some of it’s legit; I did injure my hamstring in 2008, and it IS hard to run a 10k after hosting a huge pasta party…yadda yadda yadda.
But what isn’t legit is the way I wave the “reasons” around like a banner. HEY! In case you happen to look up my chip time and are not completely impressed, I would like to remind you that I once had weirdly-refrigerated pudding back in high school! See, doesn’t it all make sense now?
Tom has not been making excuses. Instead, he’s been doing interval training, tempo runs and long runs on the weekend. When you’re doing all that, you’re too tired to make excuses.
Races are scary. I’ve run enough of them to know the adrenaline-soaked feeling of the starting line, the shaky first mile, the way my stomach feels like it will drop out of my body at the half-way point, the taunting of a finish line in the distance. Then there’s the worst feeling of all; the feeling of walking through the chute knowing you could have gone faster.
Running is a scary, soul-baring sort of thing. It takes guts to toe up to a starting line and allow yourself to be measured. And then? Then they post your time on the Internet.
I think the baby is in the “legit” category of excuses. Never mind that there will surely be moms (probably moms who have babies younger than mine and moms who have more kids to wrangle) who will run a sub-50 minute 10k (also known as: faster then my 10k PR even before my little excuse was born).
The heart of all this is that I care what people think. Back in high school I hoped that, if I had a bad race, my coach would think, “Well. She DID eat that weird pudding.” Rather than thinking I was just slow or being disappointed in me.
Here’s your psychological analysis: I want a decent race time, I’m scared that might not happen, and since everyone is obsessed with me, I’m preparing all my adoring fans for their disappointment. Once you find out that my ponytail sorta loosened at mile 3, my chip time will make a lot more sense.
This is what Tim Keller was talking about when he said, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” And the heart of the matter is a common thread that binds runners and non-runners alike: your worth comes from Christ and Christ alone. Not race times or your hairdo or the way you dress your baby.
In that spirit, I’m hoping to run the race faster than I did last year (1:00.55). I’m hoping for a beautiful day, for lots of high-fives, and that my baby lets me sleep the night before. Cheer me on.
And did you know this is the first time I’ve ever left him with someone during the day?
I’m hoping that goes well, too.
But if it doesn’t, please keep in mind that his mother once ate weird pudding…
…And then ran a race.