When this training cycle all began back in January, I wasn’t trying to accomplish anything. My only goal was to recommit to my training. I saw gaps in my previous training cycles, and I wanted to over come them. I wanted to conquer early morning runs so family time in the evening wasn’t sacrificed. I wanted to tackle tempo runs that terrified me. I wanted to be invested in myself and my family, and I knew my running shoes would take me there. I knew those early morning wake ups would result in better days. I knew tackling my tempo runs would add vibrancy to daily interactions.
#theyearofwakingup was born.
With each training run, I felt more alive. I became more engaged. Work flourished. My commitment to the running community took off. Every corner of my life felt fulfilled.
When life is good, running is good.
While the weeks between the Shamrock Marathon and my race in Delaware were not picture perfect (hello Flu and goodbye husband who was out of town for work commitments), my coach was quick to remind me that there are many chapters that make up our race day story. I was ready for race day.
I was confident. I was scared. I was excited. For the first time in a long time, I wanted a personal best. I didn’t just want a strong race and a happy race, I wanted to be my best.
There is no better time to risk failing than when life is good. I had nothing to loose. I finally had the confidence to recognize that I do want a 1 as the first number of my half marathon PR. I’ve never doubted that my legs have the ability to move so much faster than they ever have, but I have always doubted that my training was perfect enough, that my body felt strong enough or fast enough for it to happen on race day.
Going into this race I still wasn’t sure, but I didn’t care. I wanted to try. I wanted to take the risk. I needed to take the risk.
Race day arrived. I had nerves, but I knew this was good. It was a sign of my desire to reach for something just out of my reach. I knew I could do it. I felt it. It was mine to claim. With my dear friend Karen by my side, our race started as corral 2 was released on to the course. We made our way north along the coastal highway. The weather was perfect. The light breeze felt refreshing. The course that was waiting for us was gorgeous. It was going to be a great day.
We were running. My body felt engage. I wasn’t having hip pain. As doubts appeared, I quickly pushed them away. But something wasn’t right. I had no energy to give. I hoped that mile 1 was a liar, but mile 2 told the same story. So did mile 3, 4, 5 and 6. By the time we crossed the 10k mark, I had used every trick I knew to keep myself going. All I wanted to do was nap. I wanted to stop, lay down, close my eyes, and try again. My legs felt great, my breathing was easy, but I was so fatigued.
In my self proclaimed year of waking up, the last thing I expected to feel on race day was a deep desire to sleep. When I couldn’t will myself to move forward any more, I walked and all those ugly doubts I’ve spent a lifetime telling to move on took my break as an invitation to move back in. I was sad. I was embarrassed. I was disappointed. I felt like I let everyone down. At mile 11 after run/walking for the last 3 miles, a sob came out of nowhere.
I wanted that 1:xx half marathon time not just for me, but for my husband who has supported my crazy love of running for longer than our marriage. I wanted it for my coach who has invested so much into me as a runner but even more so as a person. I wanted it for my boys and my parents who give up weekends so I can race.
My race plan was to place an exclamation point at the end of this training cycle for myself but also as a thank you to everyone who invests in me. At mile 11 I felt like the opposite of an exclamation point. I just felt sad. And tired.
I crossed the finish 11 minutes later than I had hoped, and I knew I needed a few minutes to digest everything that had just happened on the race course. After a few intentional inhales and exhales, I wiped the tears off my face and joined my husband (who just so happened to place 2nd in his age group at the 9k) and friends for a celebratory beer!
The disappointment clung to me on Sunday. It followed me to dinner and to coffee and to a walk on the boardwalk. It hung out through dinner and while playing scrabble with my husband. I fell asleep with my sadness, and I slept more deeply than I have in ages.
I woke up on Monday with a fresh perspective. I woke up with gratitude for everything that went wrong the day before. I woke up and loved every moment of the 2 hours and 11 minutes I spent on the race course.
On Sunday, I showed up to race day ready to take the risk. I took the leap. I didn’t fly this time, but I showed up to the race with the courage to try. I showed up with the desire to want more.
This race brought me right back to the reason why I run. I’ll always run happy. I’ll always run for the community of running. But I also run for me. I run to be the best version of myself. I run to polish my heart. Chasing dreams is what I’m made of. This race connected every dot for me. In my failure to fly on race day, I saw all the beauty around me as I made my way back to the ground.
Aiming to be your best does exactly that. It makes you your best. Just like I knew my running shoes would deliver me to my year of waking up, my running shoes will also deliver me to be the best version of myself. Whether I snag a PR on race day or not, its the journey of wanting it, going after it, and showing up for it that matters most.
Running is never just running for me, but it is also just running. This entire training cycle has been layered with so much success. My worlds are colliding in the best possible ways and this race brought that all into focus for me. I’m awake. I’m engaged. I’m loving this life of mine.
I wanted an exclamation point on race day. I didn’t get it. What I got instead was a training cycle and a life worthy of ending with a exclamation.
Perfection is found in the process.
Our best is found in trying.
Give me a life of striving!
I’d much rather enjoy the journey than simply celebrating the finish line.