Crawlin Crab: The Decision to Run Happy, Not Fast

Oh Crawlin Crab you have managed to sucker punch a few times me over the years. Yesterday you served up a situation that could have rocked me too. But a few months ago I made up my mind that I was going to reclaim a win over you.

When it was first announced that Crab would have a half marathon relay I immediately knew I wanted in. What wasn’t as immediate was who would be my partner?


As Shamrock training ended, I began putting out feelers for summer training buddies. As the weeks went on, several friends jumped in and out of Saturday long runs. But one remained and by the time fall training season hit, it was clear a partner had emerged.

As the weekend approached the forecast began to look a bit rough for racing. Summer can span long past what the calendar tells us in Virginia. That’s exactly what happened Sunday.

My Saturday training runs have been going great. Starting in the 9’s and ending in the 7’s. Easing into a negative split like this, was what I had planned for Saturday’s half marathon relay. Jason nailed the first leg, running effortlessly under 2:00 half marathon pace. Initially, I thought I would pull off something similar, but soon after the exchange point it was clear just how hot and humid the day had gotten. Also, I was starting around 9:00 am, which is nearly two hours past when I normally begin my weekend morning run. Those two hours allowed for the temps to rise and for the course to become just enough of a hot box. By the time I first checked my watch I was finishing my first mile and was grinding out a sub 9. I knew I needed to throttle back…this run was morphing into an effort based accomplishment vs a time goal.

Monday morning on my way to work I listened to a Tony Robbins CD. He made mention of a time he suffered from severe frustration. He said that during times of frustration, our minds begin searching. That is because we are on the edge of a breakthrough. That’s exactly what happened to me Sunday morning.
I found myself frustrated with the weather conditions and in turn, my running. Thoughts filled my head…”What if I do this? What if I do that? Ugh it’s so hot?!?!” I am not the fastest runner, but over the years I’ve become a pretty smart one. During my moment of frustration I began searching and opted to look into the vault of my own coaching expertise and 20+ years of personal experience. I asked myself a simple question “what did you come here to do?” The answer easily and quickly emerged.

1. Share an amazing running adventure with Jason and my team.

2. Run the overpasses. You see, that is exactly where Crab served up not 1 but 2 doses of sucker punches to me over the years: locked up hips, a near DNF (did not finish), and a deferment.

Now that I knew what I wanted to do, I altered my plan with certainty and settled in. I consciously dropped my pace by a minute. I opted for water and Gatorade to help with muscle cramps. I graciously accepted cold towels from volunteers. I served up prayers of gratitude that for the 6.5 miles I ran, there were 5 ambulances in action and I wasn’t in one of them.

I charged myself up those overpasses and never stopped. One foot in front of the other. Steady and slow, but never stopping. I looked down at my feet (by the way, my feet were the only thing that felt fresh that day… Levitate by Brooks) and remembered why I was a Brooks Running Ambassador. It was because I knew how to run happy, not fast. And happy is how I conquered that run. As I came on the downside of the second overpass I knew my friend Carla would be there. As she cheered, all I could do was raise my arms and turn the corner for the final stretch. I managed to stack my form back up and push through cheers from teammates along the finish line. A slight chuckle came as I crossed the line, that was the only thing that seemed appropriate in the moment.

As I reunited with Jason a short time later, all I could do was hang my arms around his neck and say “ahhhh that was tough.” He made mention that he felt lazy we only did the relay and I immediately said “no way I feel smart we opted for the shorter distance especially on a day like today”

After we sleep the day away he rewarded us w burgers. We chowed down and began brainstorming about more fall training. On to the next one!!

I believe that we as humans will continue to be served up the same lessons repeatedly until we finally learn from them. I’d say I passed the test and overcame my own ego Sunday as I altered my plan for a fast 6.5 miles. My desire to run happy will forever trump running fast. Overall I’d rate Crawlin Crab as a complete success.

5/46 Teams

While it brought it’s own set of challenges, I finished the day with a smile, a win and an afternoon filled my my favorite runners.

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