Over the weekend, I had the good fortune to run the Beach to Beacon 10K race in Cape Elizabeth, Maine for the third time, along with Coach Chris (who ran the race in under 40 minutes) and about 12 of our Spurling clients.
With over 6,500 runners in the field, the actual starting line is a faint green sign in the distance, especially for those of us lining up to run our 10 and 11 minute miles. The crowd of runners is so dense that you shuffle more than run when the gun originally goes off.
But something happens when you cross that starting line.
The herd of runners begins to spread out a little - you’ve got some space - and the next thing you know adrenaline kicks in and boom - you're practically sprinting in that first half-mile with the Chariots of Fire song playing in your headphones, thinking of yourself as FloJo, graceful and gliding and…
Suddenly you’re gassed because you just ran a seven-minute mile when your typical pace is 11:00 minutes. Your legs are burning, and you realize that if you don’t settle into your own pace you’ll never even finish the six-mile race.
Those kinds of starts are common in big races like the Beach to Beacon.
We start many new things in life the same way we start a race. With purpose, intention, and determination, but it usually doesn’t take long before we encounter our first hurdle. Maybe we started our new fitness plan with so much enthusiasm and gusto that we injure ourselves. Or we fatigue ourselves. We hit the gym five days a week and realize within a few weeks that we just can’t keep up with that pace.
The interesting part of running a bigger race is that when you get to the middle miles, you’re still never alone you now have enough space and time to compare yourself with other runners. You look at some and think “there’s no way I’m going to let that 80 year old man finish in front of me.”
And then a minute later he sprints past you and you lose your momentum again. If I can’t keep up with an 80-year-old man then why am I even bothering with this at all? The thing about the race though, is you’re not likely to quit and walk away. Not with so many spectators watching. Not when you said you were going to finish this race. Not when this was the one thing on your bucket list.
So you settle into a pace, dig deep for your why (what the hell was I thinking when I signed up for this thing??) and construct the plan that will allow you to finish.
The worst and best part of the Beach to Beacon is the finish. It’s almost all uphill. After slogging along the first five miles in the heat and humidity, you get hammered with hills. But by the time you make your entrance into Fort Williams Park, the route is literally lined with people.
When you make that turn into the park you’ve got another half-mile to go to the finish.
Running uphill, totally gassed and wanting to puke nobody stops to walk, It’s like everyone collectively rides the positive energy of all of the spectators cheering them on and surfs that good vibe to the finish line.
Not easy, no. But it’s other people that get you through.
Life is like a box of chocolates sure - but it’s also a lot like running a race. We start out fast and with enthusiasm, lose track of ourselves a little in the middle, and need to do a little soul searching and depend on some cheerleaders to get us through to the finish.
I don’t know what your goal is. I don’t know what it is that you really want to do in your life. But I’d love to hear from you and we’d love to know how we can be your cheerleaders to help you get where you want to go.
Whatever you do, please be kind to yourself in the process.