Keeping up with the Kenyans

Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai won the men's New York City Marathon on Sunday
It was a wonderful fall morning--we gained an hour after the time change, and I was feeling well-rested and full of energy. It was time to head out for a workout.

My workouts of late have been good. I've been consistent, showing up at the gym five mornings every week, three of those mornings at 5 a.m. before work. I've pushed myself, changed things up, increased my running time, and lifted heavier weights. Feeling pretty good about myself, I wanted to continue with my positive streak today.

I enjoy running. During the summer, I prefer to run outside in the dry Denver air. As long as the sun is coming up by 5:30 a.m. and it's at least 40 degrees, you'll find me running my favorite route around Denver's City Park. November now, it's been a while since I've been able to run outside and have found myself at the gym instead. A clear, sunny day in Denver this morning, I was craving the outside air. The 28-degree temperature was the only thing between me and my much-needed run with Mother Nature. So I threw on a full-length pair of running pants, a long-sleeved t-shirt, a hat, my iPod, and hit the road.

Those first few minutes were...chilly. After about a quarter of a mile I actually thought about turning around and going to the predictable climate of the gym. But I persevered and before I knew it I was in the groove, not even noticing the cold air in my lungs or my numb fingers. My City Park route is just over four miles, and today it took me just over 40 minutes to complete. A ten-minute-mile isn't anything to be ashamed of. As someone who isn't a naturally gifted runner, I'm happy if I can maintain that pace.

I walked in the front door, full of good endorphins and covered in sweat. I felt good. I started my day off on the right foot, and now I was ready to take on my to-do list. But first, I needed to check out what was happening in the world.

Turns out, today was the New York City Marathon. Turns out, my measly 40-minute, 4.whatever-mile run was nothing in comparison to what the athletes in NYC did this morning. Nothing.

The winners? For the men, Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai finished a 26.2-mile run in two hours, five minutes, and six seconds. That's just under a 4.8-minute mile. For 26.2 miles.
For the women, Ethiopian Firehiwot Dado finished in two hours, 23 minutes, and 15 seconds. That's under a 5.5-minute mile. For 26.2 miles.
These people are sprinting for more than 26 miles. I couldn't even finish one mile in 5 minutes, let alone maintain that pace for 26 miles.

Suddenly I'm looking down on my weak four-mile run. I'm questioning my abilities. The good endorphins? Gone. What do Mutai and Dado have that I don't? Is it in their genes? Is it purely hard work and dedication? Do they have absolutely no life, thus are able to spend hours every day training for such spectacular runs? Maybe it's a combination of all of the above. Whatever it is, I know I'll never be able to run that fast. I'll be happy to finish a marathon one day, even if it takes me five hours. Yeah...five hours.
Those people are in the minority. In fact, I am in the minority. The majority of people out there can't run more than four miles without stopping. They can't run a consistent 10-minute mile. I may not be the best runner out there, but I'm far from the worst. I do what I can do, and try to push myself a little farther every time. That's something I should be proud of.

So, the lesson of the day: Stop comparing your physical abilities with others. Stop hating the girl that passes you up while running at the park. Stop watching the treadmill displays of other runners, trying to go faster or farther than them. Stop noticing the women with the "perfect" bodies in the weight room, wondering what their secret is.

Push yourself as hard as you can, as often as you can. Be the best you can be--as a wife, mother, employee,  and athlete. Be proud of your accomplishments and improvements, no matter how small they may seem.

And don't worry, those super-athletic people probably suck at a lot of other stuff in life, anyway.


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