Sunday’s Space Coast half marathon didn’t disappoint and neither did my better half. A jolt of guilt panged me. I know running my pace is slow, but he didn’t complain today. The whole race he had a smile on his face and an encouraging word to keep me going, but I still felt a wave of guilt I was holding him back from running the time he wanted. I asked him to run this race with me for selfish reasons. You see we started running 8 years ago, up until last year we trained together and ran events together. It was “our time” we spent together. We were always in awe of the views on the course (we pick some of the most beautiful races) for that reason. Our running over the past two years has evolved into a competition, instead of just running, fun, and enjoying being side by side. It’s now all about how fast we can run and if we can complete a race in 2 hours or less. I think that’s for the elite and young people, not us. But who am I to say what he or even I can accomplish. I suppose if I trained harder and smarter I might be able to finish in maybe 2:15, but that’s not why I run. While I’m happy about running and I am all about getting better and faster it’s still in my mind “our time together.” My better half feels different. What changed in two years?
Runners have a cliché’ for motivation, “My race, my pace.” That’s true when it’s just my pace and not his pace. What happens when I run a thirteen-minute mile and he runs a ten or nine-minute mile? The differences cause some conflict and hard feelings because I can’t keep up. I look back on yesterday’s race with love and gratefulness for having him by my side.
The last several half marathons we ran separate. We both had goals for a personal record (PR). His personal goal was to finish under 2 hours, while my goal was to finish under 3 hours. Our goals required us to run alone or with others at the target pace. We came close to hitting our goal and setting a new PR in the process. My partner finished the Treasure Coast Halloween half marathon in 2:17 and I in finished in 2:55. If we ran together we would not have accomplished our separate goals. He even came back on the course to find me. He ran with me the last mile and pushed me to the finish (now that’s love and dedication). Getting back to yesterday’s half marathon race.
Leading up to yesterday’s race I pondered on if I wanted to run alone again or run with my partner. I didn’t come out and ask if he’d run the race with me. I beated around the bush how I hated running alone and how he encouraged me when we ran together. However, I realized yesterday we are on different levels. I am not yet strong enough or fast enough to keep up with him through the entire half marathon. I also noticed how I can hang on for about 9-10 miles then I hit the wall and tire out. It’s what I need to work on if I will ever reach his level. I also understand my limitations and I may never reach that level. The ultimate question is, “Do you hold your partner back from reaching their goals?” Or do you race alone and meet up at the finish line?
It depends on what the goal is for the race and day. If you are out to have fun, take in the scenery have an honest conversation about expectations for the race. If your partner wants a PR then support him. The real conversation here is whether or not you should run together if your performance levels are different. I get frustrated when I can’t keep up and he gets frustrated when I can’t run at his pace. What we do is talk about it first and then decide what’s important for that day and that race. Yesterday’s race scenery was stunning! It was a fun race as we stopped and took many pictures. Even though I know I held him back yesterday, he helped me when I hit the wall at mile 10 and cross the finish line in 3:00 and 30 seconds. His words of encouragement and positive attitude about the race made it a great morning just to be together as a couple, a running couple. Even though we are an odd running couple. Running is a positive sport where the only limits and expectations come from you. You will stay a running couple much longer if you talk honestly about each race, personal limits, and expectations, most important have fun together and alone.