for me, the day i became i "real" runner was the day i ran a marathon & got that mylar blanket at the finish. i had run a half marathon 3 times before i did a full - each time i crossed the finish at the half, i'd see all the marathoners with those blankets. i saw them as real runners. i wanted to be one of them. i wanted a blanket.
the day before my marathon after i got back from my 3 mile run, i sobbed in my kitchen - overwhelmed & overjoyed by all that i had accomplished. i realized that it was all about the training. the marathon was just the icing on the cake.
i got my blanket. at the time, that equaled success. i had made it. but then it was - what's next? what's the next goal? how can i do better next time?
ran a some 5k's, a 4 mile race, a 10k, etc ... each race was a sucess & yet each race held its' disappointments in missed goal times, etc ... but through those dissapointments came all the lessons i'll apply to next race ... and i suppose it just goes on & on from there. i'm always analyzing how i could have done better. what went wrong? i'm really amazed by the constant learning ... i learned from my slow start at the 10k that its' ok for me to line up in the front of the pack - i've earned a spot closer up. i learned from today that when i'm running a race & feeling fabulous -- the whole time; that i'm probably not working hard enough. i didn't suffer enough. will apply that lesson to the half marathon in a few weeks. i love gathering up all these tidbits of lesson learned and applying them to next race, the next training run ... life.
disappointment from today's race aside ... i ran this same race last year; so one year, a half marathon, a full marathon, a coach & some serious training later - i shaved 2 minutes off my pace time & had i actually done my best, made it hurt, it is more likely 2.5 minutes.
it drives my husband crazy that i come home disappointed in my race times -- when in comparison to last year, the progress i am making is amazing & i should be overjoyed. he asked if i'll ever be happy with my time. i don't know, i suppose that even if i make my goal time, there will always be something i could have done better. i also suppose that perhpas my goals might border on unrealistic ... should give myself more of a range - more wiggle room ... but, don't we all think we can do better? why else would we keep doing this?
so, what equals running success to me? sure - the mylar blankets, the prizes for placing, qualifying for a seeded number... its all good. and believe me, i'll keep striving for more! but those are just the tangibles ... the best is the physical and mental results - that as a result of my 4am wake up calls to running, track tuesdays, long runs, sore muscles, all the hard work; i get a body transformed, i;m constantly learning new things, i'm a healthier, stronger better person now than one year ago, heck- than 20 years ago ... and i've earned a spot up front on race day.