I'm Too Slow

by - Monday, March 07, 2011

Why I Panicked Before My Long Run

Saturday morning before my long run, I had a mini-panic attack.

My stomach was in knots, my breathing was absurdly shallow and for life of me I couldn't calm myself down.

I can't ever remember feeling so nervous about a run. I think I was calmer the night before I ran my first marathon than I was Saturday before running 7 miles.

The reason for my complete and total panic:

My coworker Chris had invited me to run with him and a few of his friends, and I knew they were all going to be much faster than I am. I was freaking out that I was going to be the slowest one there and either hold back the group or force Chris to run much slower than he normally does so I didn't get left in the dust.

I know I'm not a super fast runner and I'm pretty OK with that, but showcasing my lack of speed in front of a bunch of new people and a coworker terrified me. I'm not even kidding, Matt pretty much had to force me out of the house.

I was the first one to the meeting spot, and spent the time stretching out before the rest of the group arrived.

We took off at a pretty good clip, and Chris and I clocked the first mile in 8:46. I knew there was no way I could hold that kind of pace for 7 miles, so I slowed a bit and the rest of the group pushed a little bit farther ahead.

Our next two miles were a little bit slower, but still much faster than I'm used to coming in at just over 9 minutes per mile. Chris was good about checking with me to make sure I wasn't dying and he seemed OK to be going at my pace, even though I apologized about 50 million times for slowing him down. He averaged something like 8:15 per mile in the Baltimore Half Marathon last year, so running 9's with me probably felt like a stroll in the park.

I was so grateful when we got to a stoplight and caught up with the rest of the group. It gave me a minute to catch my breath and stretch out my hips. I was just waiting for my IT bands to blow up and start bothering me badly. That never really happened, though we did stop for a short stretch break somewhere past mile four. I could feel my legs tightening up. I felt bad stopping, but I figured it was the smart thing to do.

After we hit the turn around point, I was dying. Our mile splits were closer to 9:30 now but I was sucking wind and my legs were tired. The rest of the group was pretty far ahead of us at this point, but we just kept trucking along.

I have to hand it to Chris, he was a pretty great pacer. He let me slow down when I needed too, but made sure I picked it back up and was really encouraging throughout the run.

When we met up with his friends back at the park, they were all super encouraging too.

So yes, I might have been the slowest one there, but no one seemed to care that much. Everyone was pretty accepting of my slower pace and they invited me to come back again.

I'm pretty sure I'll join them again, and next time I don't think I'll have a panic attack about being too slow.

Having a group to push me will help make me a faster and stronger runner. Plus it was a nice change of pace to run with other people and make new friends.

Do you ever worry you're too slow to run with other people?

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