Monday, February 8, 2010

A Bad Race?

In my youth I used to believe that there was no such thing as bad beer. Some beer just goes down better than others. In that same spirit today I believe that there are no bad races. Some of them just go better than others.

The race that could have gone better in this case simply refers to me not meeting my goal. Finishing a race and feeling let down or disappointed afterward, instead of being overcome by the familar euphoric feeling. On some days the goal can be nothing more than not falling down (*see my "On Your Feet" blog) or not walking throughout the entire run. But for this race it meant not crossing the finish line within my predicted time.

Running for me has always been a metaphor for life. Putting in the effort is the first step. More often that not on my early morning long runs I think to myself “most of these people are still in bed” as I run past their house unnoticed. With the pristine minutes of dawn all to myself, as the silence of the day before it unfolds lifts my spirits and makes me glad I got out of bed on that day. Yes it would have been easier to stay in my warm, comfy bed. But it would also be less rewarding.

Then comes learning your limitations. You can always choose to accept or not accept them, it’s completely up to you. Determination and perseverance go a long way in altering your course here. I often wonder what if Danny DeVito thought to himself "I’m not the Hollywood type?" and as such never pursued what turned out to be a remarkable career in Tinsel Town.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is learning from your mistakes. Every long distance effort should teach you something. What to wear, how to train, what to eat or not eat, and most importantly what you will do when faced with adversity. This is where effort, limitations, and knowledge converge.

Falling nearly a minute per mile off the desired pace in this last half marathon could be interpreted many ways. I am getting older and slower. In this example time will always win. We do all get slower as we age, there is no denying it. But I don’t believe that was problem. In fact I am willing to wager my best runs are yet to come.

So what happened? Maybe I didn’t choose the right plan to prepare me for my goal. Or perhaps I didn’t follow it as closely as I should have. It is possible that throwing a race in the middle of a marathon training plan isn’t a good idea. Of this I can’t yet be sure. But I do know that missing my goal was very humbling, and also very inspiring at the same time. Like those long, lonely miles often late in the run when your mind is telling you to stop, now is the time to decide what you’re willing to accept – in the next race or your life – and refocus on how you can obtain your desired goal.

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