There is something that has been on my mind that I want to share with you all, and get your thoughts on as well. It has to do with race finishing times.
Ok, so here it goes. This past Saturday morning, I was running one heck of a marathon. I was hitting consistent splits, my legs were feeling strong, and I really thought I was going to go sub 3:35 for the Boston Qualifying time. I was completely on pace for it, and then the last set of hills came. They were just difficult enough that it slowed my pace down just a bit, and was enough to send me over the 3:35 mark. When I crossed the finish line, and saw the time on my watch, my first reaction was a bit different than I originally portrayed in my recap.
I was disappointed. I was upset.
I stood right at the finishing line, leaning over the barricade, trying to catch my breath, taking in the last 3.5 hours of running. I came into the race with pretty solid training, but very minimal speed training. I did approximately 6 temp runs throughout my training, but really didn’t do much more. I kept my runs around 8:30 pace, so I was used to being in that 8 minute range. I still felt like I needed to go a little bit faster though. But why?
As runners, most of us have a dream, a goal, or even a hope, to make it to the big race in Boston. It is the elite event of all races. I made it back in 2011, when the qualifying times were different. I had to run a 3:40 back then. Now, I am required to run a 3:35:00 or faster. I feel as if I need to re-prove myself to get there again, as if there is an asterisk by my name that says, no, she didn’t make it based on today’s standards.
After I caught my breath and started the slow hobble to grab my medal, I realized how absolutely absurd I was being. I had just run my second fastest marathon ever. I fought through some killer hills that I had not even trained for. I kept a very consistent pace, and never backed down. My mind and body stayed strong the entire race, and not once did I even consider giving up. I had just killed that race, and found myself in a completely different spot than I was just a few minutes before.
I was proud. I was thrilled with my accomplishment.
So what that I didn’t BQ at the Kentucky Derby Marathon. I’ll do it again some day – that day just wasn’t April 27th, 2013. It doesn’t make me any more or less of a runner, or any less worthy of lining up at the start in Hopkinton. It makes me a runner, who is proud of the day she ran 26.2 miles in Louisville, Kentucky. It makes me a runner who is stronger than ever, knowing my mind overcame the aches in my body. It makes me a runner who will not back down – who may or may not make it to Boston again. And you know what, I am a-ok with that. There is no way I am going to let the qualifying time of one race overshadow the last 4 months of training – the early morning wake ups, the battle scars of a long run, and the pure joy of accomplishing something huge – finishing another marathon.
Next time you finish a race, and aren’t thrilled at first with your finishing time, think of how far you have come, where you have been, and where you are going. Hopefully that will put your amazing accomplishment into a more joyous perspective.