Barefoot Monologues

A Journey of the Sole

Smile like a Bad-Ass



Last weekend, I ran 12 miles.

It’s been six days since then, and so the triumphant feelings have dulled a bit. But the fact remains that I did it. To many of my readers, 12 miles is barely a long run. Even to me that distance isn’t much of a big deal anymore. It’s just four 5K’s back to back; a ten-miler plus twenty minutes. I’ve done it before and will again. But because of how this run felt and how I handled it mentally, it was as if my glass ceiling finally got smashed to pieces.

It wasn’t about the number of miles run. It was about the number of miles run with a smile on my face. It was the fact that by mile 11 I wasn’t obsessing about my sore feet or about how far I was from home like I usually do, instead I had a big, fat, bad-ass grin on my face.

A little back story. The last time I reached the 12-mile mark during a run, I was crying. It was the famously hilly Great Bay Half Marathon and I had tweaked my IT band at mile 7 because I didn’t know how to run downhill properly. I was in pain, I was disappointed by my performance, and I was tired of running. Worst of all, I was in a shitty mood during my first half marathon when I should have been enjoying the achievement.

Like I have done on some other regrettable occasions in my life, I let my bad attitude ruin what could have been an amazing experience.

But this week I was a completely different person. I crushed those miles. Yes, they were long…I won’t pretend that they were not. It took me longer to complete this trail run than it took me to finish the Great Bay Half Marathon on roads. This run was comprised of several out-and-back mini runs, so I would never be too far from my car and could make pit stops to drop clothes or get more water (which probably helped a lot). At times I was cold, because I was only wearing a long sleeve tech shirt over my tank top and the wind got through it during walk breaks. There were too many people near the start of the trail with unleashed dogs and I kept having to strong-arm Oscar to keep him from jumping at them. The effort screwed up my form and by the last pit stop my IT band was bothering me for the first time in 10 months.

But my mood didn’t falter, not once. When I hit the trail head at mile 9 I dropped the tired pooch off in the car for a short nap, and continued on for the last three miles. With better form my knee hurt less, but I still needed occasional walk breaks to ease the strain. At 10.5 I turned around for the last time and said to myself, “You got this, Trish. You’re a bad-ass distance runner, and you’re amazing. You’re about to run 12 motherf***ing miles.” It sounds dorky as hell now, but at the moment it made me smile so hard my face hurt a little. It’s amazing how far a little self-motivation can go when you’re alone on a deathly-quiet wooded trail.

At 11.25 the song “I’m Too Sexy” came on my iPod and I danced a little while I ran, bopping my head until I was dizzy and laughing at an old joke between my pal Lynsey and me. I thought of Lynsey and how I wished we could be finishing this run together. Then I stopped because my knee was screaming. Walking felt like a massage on my tired hips. My feet didn’t even hurt like they usually do – or if they did, I was in a mental state that kept it from annoying me. I ate the last of my mango slices and praised them for giving me the best (chemical-free) energy surges throughout the whole run. I ran through the weird concrete tunnel under the road for the last time and finished the water in my CamelBak. At the very end I passed a runner just starting her journey for the day and I was glad to be finished with mine.

When I reached the car I said to myself, “See how easy it is to run these miles without that shitbag attitude?” Yup.

The truth is, no matter how far you can run, no matter how many hours you put into training, it’s all about attitude. You can drop out of a race, you can injure yourself during training, but you don’t have to let your discomforts and limitations determine your mood. After all that I learned on this one 12-mile long run, I know that if I had the choice to finish the Pinelands 50K in a shitty mood or DNF it with a shit-eating grin on my face, I’ll take the DNF.

Because I feel like more of a bad-ass when I’m smiling.

8 thoughts on “Smile like a Bad-Ass

  1. You ARE a badass. 🙂

  2. Yes you are !! And an awesome one! Congrats!! I can’t wait to do 12 again-soon I hope!!

  3. Pingback: Tips for Surviving Long-Term Recovery (Guest Post by Lynsey) « Barefoot Monologues

  4. Pingback: Thoughts on Being a Loner « Barefoot Monologues

  5. I loved reading this post. I completed my first half marathon this weekend and it was ugly. I was prepared, I trained, ate well, hydrated, was well rested and felt perfect at the race start. 2 miles in, my IT band which has been bothering me in my hip for a couple months and in my knee for a couple weeks but usually not until mile 5 or 6, kicked in. By mile 6 I was ready to go home, especially knowing the second half of the race was all hills. I had to make a decision. I could either 1) quit 2) do further damage by continuing to run (I never would have finished) or 3) be flexible. I chose 3, and decided on running until it hurt to much and then walk, run than walk. I finished the race. Yes, I am disappointed things didn’t go the way I expected. I worked hard and the results didn’t match my efforts. But that’s like so many things in life right? I was put to the test and adapted. For that, I’m proud of myself and I’m already looking for my next half! Thanks for writing about maintaining a positive attitude, through imperfect runs.

    • Debbie – sounds like your first half marathon ended just like mine! My IT band continues to cause me issues on some of my long runs. Last weekend I ran 15 and it started to bug me by mile 8 – I just had to run-walk the rest of the way. I have learned that IT band pain is the result of overstriding, something I do when I’m not focused enough on my form. Figures, even after two years of minimalist running I still haven’t gotten my form totally down! It’s a constant process, right?

      Well, congratulations on your first half, and for pushing through with a positive attitude. It makes all the difference. It’s a learning process. Next time you’ll know much more about yourself, about how to keep problems at bay, and you’ll have the mental fortitude to work through them if they arise.

      Thanks for reading! -T

      • (Trisha, please excuse my spelling errors above; I hate it when I do that).

        Anyway…overstriding doesn’t seem to be my issue. I have always run with a faster leg turnover and up until this year, thought it was problematic. But more and more articles are being written about the benefits (striking mid to fore foot = less pain) of the 180 foot strikes/minute. I know it takes more to maintain form in my upper body when my lower body is in discomfort and my focus shifts to things like not leaning forward or jutting my chin out.

        It absolutely is a learning process and I’m happy to have the first one done. I would like to do at least one more half this year, but if that doesn’t happen, I will definitely go back to Allentown next April to fully conquer that course!

  6. i know…im late reading all these. and that song still makes me laugh.

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