2013 Colonial Half Marathon

Colonial Half Marathon

Today I was a slave to my schedule.  Today I ignored the signals my body was sending me and raced even though I had been sick with a cold all week long.  Today a valuable lesson was learned.

At some point it becomes more about the process and the determination to get to that finish line and less and less about the time it takes to do so.  A very memorable example of this point was during the 2007 Ironman World Championships.  Professional triathlete Rutger Beke just didn’t have it on the day and walked the entire marathon of the race, finishing amongst soccer moms and bucket listers, some 3 hours slower than his predicted finishing time.  I believe he was quoted as saying that he had too much respect for the age groupers to quit just because he wasn’t having a great day.

After my race this afternoon, I have a much better understanding of that different side of racing.  A race where you have to prove to yourself that you can make it to the finish and complete what you set out to do, no matter the obstacles that are put in your way.  A race where you pass volunteers and their “Great job!” and “You look awesome!” take on a completely different meaning (because you know they’re lying to you, even if they don’t know it).  A race where you know you won’t be rewarded with prize money, a personal record, or admiration from your fiercest competitors, but simply with the knowledge that you persisted under harsh conditions for over an hour and by the end you won’t have anything to show for it but your memories of how tough you were to gut it out.

So I guess I know how Rutger felt.  It definitely ran threw my mind several times to throw in the towel.  That would have been the easy way out.  Once you DNF, then it is too easy to DNF when the little things go wrong.  And let’s be honest, no race is ever perfect.  There is always something that happens unexpectedly, always a challenge that presents itself that you have to overcome.  The true mettle of a racer is dealing with those challenges, limiting the negative impact they have on the outcome of the race, and moving forward.

I did what I could do today.  I held a slower average pace today in the race than in every single one of my long runs leading up to the race.  I was running slower during the last half of this race than my slowest miles in the Ironman World Championships marathon (which was not a brisk 55 deg, but a scorching 90 after swimming and cycling).  So the time doesn’t mean a thing to me.  In fact, I probably won’t ever look at my official time.  Honestly it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I didn’t give up and I did the best I could given the circumstances.

I have been fortunate over the past 5 years to be incredibly consistent with my racing.  I have taken pride that I can be counted upon to put out a respectable finish.  Ironically, the first race I complete as a member of a team is anything but.

I have to remember that just because I failed once, doesn’t mean that I am a different person or racer.  Not reaching my pre-race goal doesn’t mean I’m not fit or mentally tough.

I’ll be back!

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