I just finished my fourth marathon, Hartford Marathon. My goal was to BQ with a time of 3:30.
But I’m oddly okay with that.
I ran 1:46 which is an 11 minute PR in itself (yes, I wanted to PR by 27 MINUTES! I recognize I’m nuts.).
At mile 15, I acknowledged that while I was trying my hardest, I went out too fast and I probably wouldn’t BQ. And that was okay.
At mile 17, I rewarded myself having just 9 miles left by turning on my music.
Somewhere around mile 19-20, I realized I could either sink into a pain tunnel so deep I’d be looking for tables to hide under a la Paula Radcliffe, or I could take my mom’s advice to smile pretty for the cameras and take Kelly Roberts advice to have fun.
So I put the fakest smile on my face and kept running.
I saw three kids on the right side of the road looking to give high fives. I veered from the center (I was trying to run the tangents as much as possible) and gave all three high fives. I remember at NY last year, I despised the children who were waiting for high fives. People, I LOVE kids. I work with kids, for a living! But I was in such a negative mental state that I saw them as energy suckers. Today though I saw them as people who chose to wait there, hands out, encouraging runners THEY DIDN’T EVEN KNOW!
I kept running, every half mile or so reminding myself to put that fake smile back on.
I encouraged a runner next to me who was hunched over in pain, telling him “It’s okay! We’re doing great!” Last spring when I ran my marathon? I refused to say one word because it would take too much energy. Why was I running a race then with other people?
Today’s marathon reminded me that we put on races and run races not for the PRs, the BQs, or the goal it provides for us. We run races because it’s this rare moment when thousands of other runners gather together to celebrate something that most people view as completely insane and pointless. Which it is. But it’s not when we all come together to celebrate it! So many runs by thousands of runners run alone early in the morning, late at night, through those crazy, humid days. And today was the day we got to come together to celebrate!
I finished the race fist pumping and cheering, genuinely excited! I wasn’t in tears. I wasn’t glaring at the spectators because they weren’t cheering enough. (*cough* New York.). In fact when the spectators saw me fist pumping and smiling ear to ear, their faces lit up! They started cheering and they were so happy to see me so happy!
Why do we turn such joyous occasions into such times of anger and frustration? Embrace where you are, and enjoy it!
Six months ago I would never had been able to write this post. But over the last six months, sure I’ve gotten faster, but I’ve also become so much stronger mentally. And that is something I am SO grateful for. The Running On Om podcast (Love you Julia!) helped me aware of mental strength. And Elizabeth Clor’s book made me realize that BQ’ing is great, but it’s not easy so I should just embrace the damn journey it will take me on! Do I still want to BQ? Of course! About 1 mile into the race there was a highway sign that said “Boston” with an arrow. And I thought “YES!” I am running towards Boston. At my pace, in my time frame.
Don’t forget to run for joy!