Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Race Day Lessons

It has been a while since I have run and not set another PR. Just over a week ago, I fell while trail running and banged up my knee. Considering that I had a half marathon four days later (review to follow), this felt like a bit of a set back to me as I realized the possibility of setting a PR was almost decidedly out the window.

The race came on Saturday and my knee was incredibly stiff in the morning. Over the race course, 2,000 feet of elevation are lost. I tried to relax on the downhill and not fight it, while attempting to maintain form on the uphill (which actually hurt more). I had one of my toughest races physically on Saturday! Because this was not my end goal with training, I knew that I needed to be somewhat conservative and not overdo it, but if you are a runner and even the slightest bit competitive, you know how hard that is.

When I crossed the line, I realized that although it was not a PR, it was definitely not my slowest half marathon. Initially, I was bummed with my performance. As I processed through this, I realized that not all races will come with PR’s and that is not what running is all about. I had a wise person remind me that running is about challenging yourself and pushing with all you currently have.

Racing at the non-professional leve is about so much more than a PR or a place in your age division. It is about seeing how far you can go despite all of the extenuating circumstances. It is about talking with a girl at the start line that you met at last year’s race about her running over the last year. It is about meeting a woman on the course who, after having two children, is feeling stronger than ever and it trying to PR. It is about realizing that your running partner, who has been on the injured list, is now running right beside you. It is about looking up as you descend that hill and seeing the glorious view of the mountains and the sun peeking over the top. It is about the sound of feet and heavy breathing running down a mountain road.  It is about the race shirt and the excitement of checking the goody bag. It is about crossing the finish line, knowing that another chance will come and still feeling that joy of being exhausted, knowing you pushed hard regardless of what the clock says.

See what I mean? Racing truly is about so much more than a PR. What is it to you?

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