Monday, April 8, 2013

Addicted to the Finish Line

Everyone has their reasons for doing whatever it is they do.  Everyone has some motivation for doing - or not doing - something.  When I began running, I immediately knew I wanted to run a race.  Now, I knew I wouldn't WIN the race, of course, but I wanted something to work toward, a goal.  A goal, I have learned in the past few years, keeps me focused, and being the type-A personality with a slight case of adult ADD that I am, it helps.  What I didn't realize back in the beginning, was the power that the race would have over me.

After that first race, I was instantly hooked.  Sure, it hurt and I was slow, but I felt something that I hadn't felt in a very long time, or ever actually:

The feeling of crossing the finish line.

If you haven't experienced it, let me see if I can describe it adequately.  It's a feeling of accomplishment, pride, VICTORY.  Yes, victory, even though I didn't win a darned thing.  Whether someone is shouting my name and cheering me on or not, that moment that I cross the pad is kind of surreal, really uplifting, and never lasts long enough.  The personal win that I experienced the day of my first 5k race has only been matched a few more times since I began racing:

  • My first triathlon ever - that feeling that I actually DID IT.  I trained, I swam, I biked, and I ran (PR'd on my 5k in the process).  If I could have hugged myself that day, I would have.
  • My first half marathon - the distance scared the crap out of me, and I didn't think I would be able to run THAT far for any sustained amount of time.  But I did it, I ran the entire race without stopping, and my time wasn't too shabby.  My finish line photo said it all: I crossed the line, arms over my head, triumphant, and crying like a baby.
  • My first Olympic distance triathlon - I put on my big girl tri kit and went for it.  I had a good swim, a good bike ride, and I completely died in the run.  It was hot, I realized that I didn't train very well, and I learned a lot that day about racing (and training and nutrition).  But I stayed upright, ran across the finish line to the cheers of my children, and I felt like a real triathlete from then on.
I have many more races ahead of me, at least that is my plan.  I don't race to win, I don't race to beat anyone but myself.  Crossing the finish line is a bit of an addiction for me.  An addiction, like any drug, that brings about feelings of power and euphoria and little bit of giddiness.  And, like a drug, it also brings withdrawals when I haven't crossed one in a while.  Except this addiction is one that is good for me, one that improves my body, my mind, and my spirit with each hit.

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