Holy Hot Hilly Hell, RunnerGirl!

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So yesterday I ran my third half marathon, and am subsequently dealing with my first disappointing race results.

My stretch goal was a PR, or breaking 1:55:54. My “good enough” goal was to break two hours. When all was said and done, I ended up with a “not my worst time of the three” finish of 2:03:33. (My first half I finished in 2:05:21.)

I was so disappointed. I never saw the 2:00 pace group pass me at the end. It was so hot. So hilly. I lost an earbud at the halfway point, so my only auditory accompaniment was my own wheezing and panting. I walked at the water stops for longer than usual. I had to pee the whole race, I really had to pee about mile 5, and I really really had to peel from mile 9 on. And then I thought to myself, “Am I making excuses?”

As I rehydrated after the race, I was just glad to be done. I was soaked with sweat and overheating. I hit the restroom, then sat down to mix some water and Gatorade and eat a banana.

Then I thought about it even more, and I decided they weren’t excuses…although perhaps I was rationalizing…but in the end I started seeing these things as the unique variables that influenced my performance. Could I have fought through more? Should I have trained harder? Could I have done better? Or did I fight and train as hard as I could?Did I do my absolute best? Did I leave it all out there on Comm Ave.? It really was a lot to process.

Then some of the positives started bubbling up.

I finished.
I finished in a perfectly respectable time.
I bumped into an old and long-lost friend after the race, and now we’re likely to stay re-connected.
My girlfriend was waiting for me at the finish line and it was her birthday.
I accomplished something huge for the third time, something that was unthinkable 18 months ago.
All that hurt were my two second toes. (Although they did—and still do—hurt a lot, and probably will preclude my wearing flip flops and getting pedicures this summer.)

Yet there was still disappointment. I even found myself unable to enjoy even looking at running clothes at Athleta.

And then it hit me, as it so often does. That there was a long list of positives and a long list of negatives…and I could choose what list I want to live. I decided to live with both. To consider the negatives in the context of the positive.

Which has led me to realize that I have now added another dimension to how I process what happens to me. I talk about balance a lot. About considering things in the aggregate and not over-focusing or over-anguishing about pin dots in the big picture of life.

But the experience I had in my race yesterday and how I have processed it since have given me another tool I can use to wrap my head around my life experiences. Sure, this race is one of those “pin dots.” But it’s really big to me right now. So I need to remember to, in these pin-dot moments, remember not to let myself get swallowed by the negatives but rather stiff-arm them and consider them in the context of the positives! Doing so will enable me to make an honest assessment of what’s happening and why it’s happening, and to address the bad stuff using the momentum of the good stuff. As I type I realize that positive momentum brings positive momentum, and that negative momentum drives more negative momentum. So I’m going to choose to fuel my positive momentum with the lessons I learn from the negative stuff. And I’m also going to remind myself that the so-called “negative” stuff is often more like “positive stuff that just didn’t go according to plan.”

This is the pic of me that my girlfriend posted to Facebook yesterday, accompanied by “She finished!”

And today I realized that she did in fact finish…she is not finished because she didn’t finish when she wanted to. She finished! A positive, positive thing!

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So now I am going to take today to decompress, and tomorrow I’m taking my $50 gift certificate to Marathon Sports to talk about some new sneakers, and maybe even a pair that can better accommodate my “descended-from-royalty” second toes. (Oh, and when my number came in the mail today for the BAA 10K on 6/22? I was ecstatic. Go figure!)

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