Approximately a week and a half ago, my wife (Melissa) and I traveled to Charleston so that she could tackle the marathon; she'd been training like a madwoman, trying to will herself across the finish line with not only a personal best, but also a time that would qualify her for the Boston Marathon. It had always been a dream of hers...and on this day, she fell short; the weather was unseasonably warm, and she knew within the first mile that her legs just weren't there when it mattered most. I was out on the course, waiting to see her come flying by-big smile on her face, ponytail spinning like a helicopter, T-Rex arm-swing in full effect. Instead, I received an "I'm dropping to the Half; I just don't have it today" text, from mile 10.5. My heart dropped, knowing how hard she'd worked, and also knowing how hard it must be for her, right then, to run those last couple of miles, her knowing she'd fallen short of her goal-her dream. So I hustled over to what must have been mile 12.75, determined to "run her in" in a show of support. When I finally saw her, I knew it wouldn't be the scene I'd envisioned earlier; sure, the ponytail and arm were swinging as they should, but instead of the larger-than-life smile I'd hoped to see, I was taken aback as I saw her falling apart before my eyes-it seems that, once she saw me, her "failure" became all too real and she was fighting back the tears (I'd later receive a text from her saying how "sorry" she was that she'd "let me down"). While we ran those last few tenths, I told her how proud I was of her-not for how hard she'd trained, or how fast she'd run the Half that day, but for listening to her body and "living to run another day"; we agreed to use the rest of the day to get over it, then put it behind us and move forward the next day. Because, after all was said and done, it was only one race, on one, single day; to let this define her, even if it was only in her own mind, would be just plain silly.
So, what's the point of my story? A) to let everyone know how proud I (still) am of her, and B) that no matter who we are, or how hard we train, some days we have it and some days we don't. Simply stated, running, as with most things, is a fickle mistress; we can prepare as well, or as poorly, as we ever have, only to surprise ourselves with the exact opposite outcome of what we were expecting come race day. Sure, we all have our limitations, but whether they be physical or mental (or both), those limitations are constantly shifting and changing. Recognition of our how we're faring at any given moment is easier said than done, but listening to our bodies will always give us the added benefit of making the most out of any occasion. If we don't have a great training run...well, so what?! That's a single run, and we can use that to fuel our successes, rather than our failures, moving forward. If you feel good, run harder-see what the day brings. If you're feeling pretty down, turn the run into a shortened version of what you had on tap, or even a shake-out. Or just take the day off. Pushing the issue can not only be an instant disaster, but can have long-term effects that we only realize far later, and often far too late (injury, "running depression", etc.) The word "limitation" generally has a negative connotation, but once we get out in front of it-put ourselves into positions where we can identify and succeed despite/because of it, then we truly recognize that it doesn't have to be defined as "failure"; rather, when done correctly, we can define it as "a step back, in order that we might take three giant steps forward".
Get your miles in, thanks (as always) for your support, and we'll see you next week out on Tybee - welcome to 2017!