On Saturday, I ran my first race since the marathon. My knee was finally better, and I was feeling strong. I knew I was ready for it. Besides, this race was pretty casual, about as noncompetitive as it gets. It was the Bayou City Classic, a 10k and 5k that benefits the Houston Park Board. No medals, just a great course, post-party and fun.
And even though I knew there was no pressure, I started to feel it as I pulled into the parking lot on that dark morning. I was nervous. Why do I do think to myself? I thought. I could be at home, in bed, sleeping in, then running on my own. No pressure. No stress. Why do I do this?
As I chatted with a few friends waiting for the race to start, my nerves subsided…a little. The gun went off. I crossed the starting line and took off. I was shooting for an 8:30 pace. I didn’t want to risk hurting my knee again, and my lungs still weren’t as strong as they used to be.
The miles went by without much struggle. 8:34, 8:35, 8:32. I kept waiting to get that feeling of dread, when it all hurts and you wonder how the finish line isn’t closer, but it never came. I was exceeding my expectations. 8:24, 8:26, 7:29.
And that’s why I do this. It’s not the really about the time. Or the medals. It’s for that feeling when you surprise yourself. When you do something you weren’t 100% sure you could. That feeling is always what I’m racing toward.