I am so very thrilled to be sharing insights today from the lovely Stephanie Marie of The Fete Blog. She is a jill of many trades and (this completely blows my mind) a professional runner. An Olympic hopeful, writer, gatherer, thoughtful thinker, and lover of beautiful things…Stephanie, let’s do this!
I first started my life as a runner in elementary school; my mother would take us to the local track where she would run laps and I would mimic her. My brothers would play in the middle of the field or cut corners, but I would keep to lane one, one foot in front of the other.
This grew to middle school running, high school cross-country, college track and field, and today—where my “career” is professional running. To say I have an overly intimate knowledge of pace as far as running is concerned is an understatement.
And yet, ironically– I can never pace myself correctly.
When I race, more often than not it goes like this: I start out hard, make a silly aggressive move in the middle, then flounder, tired and with an alarming lack of confidence, at the end. I finish deflated, embarrassed, and frustrated. WHY can’t I just run a smoother, easier pace at the beginning and finish faster? That’s clearly the way to run a great race. Pace yourself to start; slowly pick up your pace until you are all out and that will usually correspond to one or two laps to go, and having the momentum from nearly being done combined with enough energy conserved (from running a smart pace in the begin) equals victory. Easy.
But why isn’t it easy for me?
Honestly, this new silly race strategy is a new thing. A few years ago, I had confidence and I was fearless and I didn’t care who I lined up against—I was going to race my little heart out and feel awesome no matter what. Then I began putting pressure on myself and felt expectations (from friends, coaches, teammates, sponsors) that stemmed from being such a good racer… and all that confidence disappeared. Instead of feeling excited by racing, I was anxious, fearful, a nervous wreck. I would start my races out so hard because I was afraid that if I started with a smart, slow pace, I would fall behind and not be able to catch up when the faster girls really took off. The time to strike would come and I wouldn’t be able to respond, because my pace would be too slow—or so I feared. I doubted my ability to be a competitor and didn’t believe I was good enough to keep up. Other people’s pace clouded my vision and I was scared.
You know where this was going.
All this is a very apparent metaphor for my creative, off the track, real life. In college, I dominated my little world—whatever my heart fancied, I went out and made happen. I had adventures and I didn’t care about other people’s to-do lists or social media bragging. I was ambitious and I had no fear. But then, college ended and I was thrust into a real world and the paper I wrote for closed down and I got married and moved away and was unhappy and began the process of ending said marriage and felt left out of the creative community I had left behind and doubted my silly career as a runner and didn’t take advantage of opportunities in front of me and and and…
My pace has been off the past few years—in running and in my life. 2013 was a scramble of taking on as many projects as I possibly could fathom, going into it all as hard as I could, then gradually slowing to a complete standstill. I couldn’t juggle it all—there wasn’t enough time in the day!—and all my projects were thrown into chaos. I missed deadlines. I was buried in to-do lists. I had overbooked myself, in order to not feel left behind when others picked up their pace, and instead run myself into the ground.
Pace is subjective. The pace you run / live your life is not what I should base my own pace upon. Stepping back and giving my life a hard look has helped me figure out my own unique pace—and now it’s all about having the confidence to conduct my living so that I can finish strong. Panicking, feeling fear, doubting yourself—all that leads to going out too hard and fading fast. I’m not about that life anymore; my pace—in running and, more importantly, in life—is all up to me. When I step onto the track this year, I’m going to be calm, confident, and fearless. Start out smooth… and end with a bang!
Stephanie Marie is a wedding stylist / PR gal, writer, and athlete. She is a UVA grad, a New Balance-sponsored athlete, and a documenter of daily wonders.