There’s a TV show that my kids used to watch when they were little called “Wonder Pets”. It’s about a hamster, turtle and baby duck that all live in a school classroom. When school gets out they get phone calls (via a tin can that also serves as a pencil holder; hey, the kids bought it) from another animal that’s in trouble, and then together they create a “fly boat” out of items in the classroom to rescue the animal in distress (my favorite episode was when a baby calf was stuck in a tree; again, the kids bought it). The two main themes of each episode was that you don’t have to be big to do big things, and that the best way to get things done is to work together. They have a few songs in every episode that are always the same. One has the lines: “What’s gonna to work? Team work!”, and another is “We’re not too big and we’re not too tough, but when we work together we’ve got the right stuff!”
So, what’s my point? After trying unsuccessfully to get through 2 episodes of “Utopia”, have I given up on prime time TV and reverted back to kids’ shows? No (though, after living in a world with shows like “Utopia”, “Naked and Afraid” and “Wahlbergers”, reverting back to kids’ TV shows is not such a bad idea). Today I was reminded of the importance of working with others.
This morning I was supposed to run an 18 mile race in Central Park. The Metro-North train schedule – frankly – sucks on Sundays, so I had the “brilliant” idea to drive to the city. I picked up two fellow Pehlamites and we had a great ride down. The problem, though, was trying to find parking along with the other few thousand people who had also driven to the race. After 30 minutes of circling and losing numerous spots to the car right in front of me I dropped the other racers off, and 40 minutes after that (which was now 20 minutes past the race start time), I gave up completely and drove home (don’t worry; my two carmates only wanted one way rides. I was frustrated and pissed off, but I’m not an asshole. I promise I didn’t abandon anyone).
So, now it was late morning and I was home from my round trip excursion to Manhattan without running one step of the 18 miles I needed to do for today’s long run (thus why the 18 mile race in the park was so perfect, save for the lack of available parking). I sat in the living room with my husband Wil and daughter Olivia. First they both sat there waiting for the smoke to stop coming out of my ears. Finally, Wil decided to step into the lion’s den first and asked, “why don’t you just go run now?” (Then I think he flinched back a little in case I tried to kill him for trying to help me when I was so angry). But I didn’t want to run. An 18 mile run takes well over 3 hours. It was too late in the day to take on such an endeavor. I also had eaten many hours ago thinking I’d be running much earlier, so now my food intake was all messed up. I didn’t have a route mapped out, I didn’t want to run alone for so long, and I had a million other excuses.
In my head, I had a big problem. It’s 7 weeks until the NY Marathon (and holy – poop – by the way). Now is not the time to start skipping long runs. I knew full well that if I skipped this run, that I’d be so angry at myself that I’d skip tomorrow’s 5 mile run, too. Then on Wednesday, I wouldn’t feel prepared for the 8 miler I had on the docket, so I wouldn’t do that one, either. Etcetera. You get the idea.
Just as I was mapping out the demise of my training schedule and possibly my running career, my cell phone rang. It was my friend and running partner, Rita. Rita had to go to a wedding this weekend, so we weren’t going to be able to run together. A few times this week she had told me how she was really dreading doing her 18 mile long run by herself, but didn’t have much choice. When I had gotten home I had texted Rita about how I had missed the raced. Now, she was calling me because she got home earlier than expected. She hadn’t run yet, and asked if I wanted to go with her.
Suddenly, the little storm cloud over my head broke and the sun came out. Did I want to run together? YES! I happily grabbed up my water belt and fuel gels and skipped out the door. I had someone to run with!
This blog is getting a little long, so I won’t give a blow by blow of every single mile. But generally speaking, it was great. When one of us was struggling we’d say it out loud and the other person would encourage them on (read, the bazillion times I need help Rita turned into a motivational coach, and the one or two times she was having a hard time I helped her out). As the miles fell away, we’d talk about how “little” we had left; at mile 8: “Just 10 more miles!”, at mile 9: “Woohoo, halfway!”, at mile 12 “Hey, less than a 10K!”
At one point we had been running in silence for a bit when we came to just one more hill than my legs could bear. I was done. If I had been alone, I know that I would have stopped for a bit. I might have walked a little and tried to run again, but mostly I would have walked, stopped, and sweared for the rest of the run. Instead, though, I just said, “OK, Rita, I’m hurting. You need to talk about something that will distract me.” Without missing a beat, Rita started talking about the wedding she had just gotten home from, and then next thing I knew we were up that first hill plus two more and I barely noticed them (OK, this was about mile 14, so let’s call it like it is: I noticed them, but I was too busy listening to the story to think of any bad words to mutter as I went up them). A bit later she was having a tough time, so I cheered her on. “What’s going to work? Team work!”
We finished our run at my house, so I grabbed my car keys to drive her home with a detour for celebratory frozen coffee drinks from Dunkin’ Donuts. When I got home from Rita’s and cooked and then inhaled a stack of pancakes (hey, I had just burned 1600 calories. Frozen coffee drinks and pancakes weren’t even a blip on my food radar for the day. Besides, I make these awesome multigrain pancakes with pear sauce and bananas. Totally healthy – as far as pancakes go), I thought about my morning. My “brilliant” decision to drive to the City had killed my race and threw me into a tailspin that I couldn’t get out of on my own. But missing that race led to the happy accident of me be able to run with my friend who didn’t want to run alone either.
|Ben (kid) helping Gunther (dog) fetch a "stick". Teamwork!|
Rita and I don’t run together all the time. We do all of our weekday runs alone. But, I know that to be prepped for our weekend runs that I need to get through the weekday ones, or I risk holding Rita back and messing up her own training. It’s funny how we can be quick to let ourselves down, but when we’re working with someone else we really want to help each other out.
Is there something you want to work on but you just can’t seem to do it alone? Well, look around. There might be someone in your world who wants to accomplish the same thing, and maybe you can help each other out. “We’re not too big and we’re not too tough, but when we work together we’ve got the right stuff!”