They always say, “you never know what will happen on marathon day.” It is a long ass slug to the finish, and the journey between mile one and mile 26.2 is a total stinking crap shoot.
Sometimes you surprise yourself and have the race of your life. You fall into your zone early, your legs remain fresh, your head is on straight and keeps sending you the right messages. You reach your time goal with minutes to spare. You are victorious. On top of the world.
And, sometimes, there are those races where you fuel well, dress right, and train smart, but the unexpected occurs. Your hamstring seizes up at mile 15 or your calf tears. You can’t stop taking dumps along the side of the road. You shuffle your way for the last eleven miles, each slow step a reminder that your goal is fading further and further out of reach. Your heart drops, your spirit drags. All of that training - for this?
Today Ken had one of those days, the disappointing kind.
After getting a 1:42 PR at the Denver Half Marathon in October, he set his sites on his first full. He trained consistently, smartly and tirelessly. He cross trained, he fueled well. He is one of the most disciplined people I know. He had a heaping plate of chicken pasta last night and one beer. He settled into bed by 9pm, excited and hopeful.
When I went to meet him at mile 17 this morning and he wasn’t there, I just assumed I must have missed him. I heard that some kids had crashed a car into a tree along the course during the race, and I worried.
Later, a friend finished the race and told me she had passed Ken who was walking with ice on his hip. He has never once had hip problems before. He had tried to keep running, but it was difficult. That was mile 17 with 9 stinking miles to go.
I waited. I worried. Where was he?
Just then, I saw him and ran with him the last bit before the finish.
He shrugged his shoulders and said, “It just wasn’t my day.” My heart sank.
It’s not about your time so much as it is about running the race in a way that you feel good about. A way that makes you proud. It just plain sucks to get hurt and to hobble your way to the finish.
And, when you love someone you take on every bit of frustration, sadness and pain as if it were your own. That’s how love works.
That said, there are two choices. Two possible attitudes moving forward:
I failed. Why bother? Screw it. I put in all that training and for what? It’s just not worth it. I’m not meant to run marathons. I won’t try that again.
This was a challenge. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. My body didn’t like 17 miles of downhill and it seized up on me. But, this is only the beginning. There is always another race. This disappointment will not be my only memory of what a marathon is. It will not define me as a runner. I’ll create a new memory on a different race day. It is mine for the taking and the only people who fail are those who fail to try.
Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and don’t look back. YOU FINISHED A DAMN MARATHON!!!!!!!!!
Emma and Sam know their dad finished a marathon and are proud of him for it. They couldn’t give a crap what the clock said.
And then there’s this girl, my friend Joie, who found success today and took 18 minutes off her last marathon time.
She knows where her priorities are:
And lastly, you want motivation? Check out this woman along the course today. 63 years old. Her time? 3:36. That’s what I’m talking about. Go grandma. NICE RACK!
Ever have a really disappointing race?
Tomorrow is a new day. Never.give.up.