I took loads of photos and videos. Of the start, with the singing of America the Beautiful, and the first mile as we ran across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from Staten Island into Brooklyn.
This particular marathon was not really on my radar until I was asked to join a team that was fundraising for St. Jude’s Children. I didn’t know that much about what St. Jude’s does until I accepted the invitation to run for this team, first for this past March’s New York City Half Marathon, and then this full marathon. A few times during Sunday’s marathon, when it crossed my mind that some of my lower extremities were a tad achy, I immediately thought of the children and their families, who were benefiting from St. Jude’s mind-boggling support (they don’t have to pay a dime for their cancer treatment or any associated costs – for life!). Who was I to complain about a blister or ailing toenail or tired muscle?
I didn’t know what my finish time was until a couple hours after crossing the finish line, when I was headed home. I pulled up my name in the marathon app on my smartphone and saw I had finished in 4:32. Huh. My slowest marathon to date. I thought about the time I had taken to fiddle with my phone (camera), hug my family and friends, pee. Since I hadn’t been tracking my progress, while I knew I had negative splits starting around mile 18, I didn’t know exactly by how much or how consistently. I suppose that would have been interesting to know. I knew I could have gone a bit faster, especially if I hadn’t smilepaced and treated this like a fun party as opposed to something to measure and prove. So, I sat with both parts – the part of me that is competitive and was a little annoyed I hadn’t pushed myself more, trained harder (or at least for longer!), that part of me that was ruffled when other people shared their faster times and PR’s. And then the other part of me that really and truly loves to be immersed in the whole experience of soaking in the scenery, the crowds, the effort that my friends and family make as they support me all year long in all of my endeavors, and especially on the day of the event. The part of me that loves to document it all, even if it means running 26.2 miles with a phone the size of a tablet (iPhone 7 Plus), in my hand, and running more slowly to get certain footage to share with those who aren’t up for the actual run themselves.
Some of my friends, real or virtual, complain after their races that they were dismayed by how lousy they felt. That their time sucked. They felt great in training – and yet they fell apart in the race. What happened? They ask themselves. When I got my triathlon coaching certification, one of my favorite workshops was with Bobby McGee, the author of Magical Running and a coach to elite and professional athletes. He explained that if we go into a race with a specific time goal, we are very likely to be disappointed. There are so many variables beyond our control, no matter what our training looked like. Weather, terrain, crowd behavior, opponents, etc. He suggested, instead, that we choose a time possible as a target, but that our goals be something we actually can control: patience; flexibility; gratitude. In other words, that we adopt a certain attitude as our goal. Because, inevitably, no matter how much or how we train, there will be surprises on race day. And if we are married to a time-measured goal or a rank, we are setting ourselves up for potential failure.
So – if your performance at your recent event was in your opinion, disappointing or downright mortifying – I invite you to look at it this way: did you quit? Or did you keep going, in spite of the fact that you were in pain, you wanted to puke, you questioned your sanity? So, you missed your desired finishing time by a few minutes or hours – what did that teach you? Maybe you need to tweak your nutrition (try FuXion by the way – it’s amazing stuff!). Maybe you need to build more rest into your training plan, especially if you have a stressful life. Maybe you need to do more strength training, cross-training, yoga. Maybe you need to say the Serenity Prayer on a regular basis. Whatever it is that you learned from this experience, the fact that it was an opportunity for you to learn more about yourself and about life, makes it in many ways an awesome race. I have a lot of finisher medals and podium medals and trophies, and the ones that mean the most to me are not always the ones that looked the best on paper (or in an App).
YOU ARE AMAZING.
Just. Keep. Going.