This is the number on the race clock as I crossed the finish line beaming today at the Rock n Roll Philly Half Marathon.
Let’s start with the truth. I’ve been struggling with confidence as my running has slowed down. Years of chasing sub 2, and missing it by one minute and missing it by a lot left a void in my journey. Somewhere along the way faster equaled better. Sub 2 was good. Everything else felt like failure (for me and my personal journey). I’ve had so many wins along the way, but a cloud clung to me as I failed to perform physically at the speed I wanted to perform.
Summer running rocked my confidence some more. With a marathon on the horizon, I’ve run more miles this summer than I’ve ever run. Runs have been slow. The 9 minute miles are a distant memory. Not running 9s anymore caused me to doubt my ability to run. Somehow running 10s, 11s, and 12s seemed less than (for me and my personal journey).
Let’s talk about the reality of this race. I was in Philly to work the expo. This meant standing for hours each day on concrete floors. This was also my first visit to Philly. This meant walking double digit miles each day to explore. My goal for this race was to run faster than 2:30. Based on my recent runs, the humid and hot forecast for race day and my lack of confidence, this felt like the appropriate goal for me.
The first 3 miles hurt. My legs and feet were fatigued. My calves were cramping. I doubted my race. I held on. I knew I’d walk through each water stop to hydrate, so I just needed to make it to each stop.
By mile 3, my legs loosened up! The course entertainment was amazing, and I reminded myself to smile. I wasn’t there to prove anything, but I was there to prove to myself I could embrace my race regardless of pace and all those false lies I have told myself for years of faster being better. I could have my best race yet without setting a personal record on the race clock. Mentally I felt better than I’ve ever felt in a race.
At Mile 5, my favorite elite runners ran by cooling down from their own blazing fast race. I love the sport of running and sharing the course with these athletes is one of the many reasons I run. What other sport allows you to compete with the pros?
By Mile 9, I was feeling the fatigue, the hills, and the humidity. But that’s race day. Mile 9 shouldn’t feel good. Mile 9 is the place to start working. After my third stop at medical for Vaseline for my chafed thighs, I spotted a girl I had seen at every medical tent dealing with the same issues. We said hi and decided to run together. I found energy in my run again.
By mile 12, I felt like a brand new runner. All the fatigue had left my body. All the doubt had left my mind. A mile later I crossed the finish line feeling more confident than I’ve felt in a very long time.
The cloud of doubt that was lingering over my ability to preform at the New York City Marathon disappeared today. I’m working on getting physically ready, but today I proved I’m mentally ready.
Faster doesn’t equal better. Not for me. Pouring my heart into something I love, dedicating my time and my effort to achieve something great, and overcoming mental doubts and insecurities, that’s my version of best. That’s why I run. I run to know that I can handle whatever gets thrown my way and I’ll always cross the finish line feeling proud.
Thank you Philly for filling my heart with love!