I ran with Lee Baston and her group of long-distance running friends this morning.
A 4:57am message told me that Lee’s day was not going to plan – her alarm hadn’t gone off.
But some quick thinking and a few shortcuts had her back on track as she joined her group for a 32 km run from UWA to Mount Henry and back.
I joined the group as they crossed the halfway mark.
We sat on a comfortable 5:50/km pace as we crossed Mount Henry bridge and started the return leg of the run. There was plenty of chatter and it seemed the group was in good spirit.
Then, at the 28 km mark, Lee hit the wall.
She stopped. “My feet are hot. They’re on fire,” she lamented.
“You go, Pete. Don’t wait for me. Just go!” she ordered.
I ignored her.
Lee bent over and started to unlace her shoes. It’s an unusual thing for a runner to take their shoes off. That’s what you do after a run, not with 4 k’s to go.
“My feet are on fire,” she told me again as she started to walk, now bare feet.
Then, as if something a switch flicked inside her, she once again bent over. This time it was to pull on her runners. She muttered something I couldn’t make out as she tightened the laces.
Then she started to run.
As we climbed the Narrows Bridge I offered Lee a date. Dates are superfood for athletes. They never go off and provide instant relief for a runner who’s running out of fuel.
Lee devoured one, then another, then another.
18 minutes later we crossed the finish line. Lee had run 32 k’s just as she’d planned.
It’s moments like these in training that define the athlete. You see, we train to experience – not avoid – our breaking point. For if we avoid pain and fear in training, we’re ill-equipped to handle what’s thrown at us when things don’t go to plan during the game.
But when we experience our breaking point fully we also experience what it feels like to overcome. We experience that pain, when transcended, becomes personal victory.