My goal is to finish the race. I don't care about my time, I just want to enjoy the experience, do something to help people, and have fun.
I have said this over and over again in the past four months. But deep in my ever so competitive heart I was keeping track of my times and hoping to finish within a certain time frame. I wasn't admitting it out loud but I did care about my time - until this past week.
Our team had a meeting one night last week to talk about our travel, preparing for the race, and the overall plan for our event weekend. During that meeting there were several things said by coaches and mentors that resonated with me:
- You have all worked so hard for this event. You need to soak in the beautiful scenery and enjoy this experience.
- This is a journey not a destination
- There is nothing like your first marathon
- Your time is not what is important, covering the distance you need to is what is important
Over the course of my training I had strained my IT band (most likely from pushing myself too hard for that time I didn't care about). For the most part it is just a nuisance causing some tenderness, but there have been times when it sends a shooting pain through my leg. I have been babying my knee, not training as hard as I would like, so that I can complete the marathon in less than three weeks.
On Saturday as we started our 20 mile run I found myself running with a group that paces a bit slower than I normally run. As the miles added up our group started to spread out along the course. I was running with the same woman I had been running with throughout the training. I probably push myself a bit to keep pace with her at times. She has an abundance of energy at the end of a race where my energy is about depleted. When we came to the water stop at about mile 15, my calves were starting to cramp so I stopped to stretch and told her to go on with our coach while I waited for the group behind us. I finished the run with the group that paces a bit slower but it felt good. I felt better those last five miles taking it easier on my body, enjoying the slower pace, and getting to know some new people.
I truly want to embrace this experience. By running at a little slower pace and not pushing myself so hard, I might be able to take in a bit of the scenery and soak up the experience. I know there will be tough points along the route where I will hit a wall and maybe feel like quitting. The good thing about being part of a team is there are people there to hold you up, support, cheer, and encourage you along the way.
I could push myself harder, try for a better time but really will five or ten or even fifteen minutes matter? I will just have run 26.2 miles, raised over $3600 for cancer research, and made some incredible friends - those are the things that matter. I have made peace with not running for a time. I am going to go out and run the best race I can and cross the finish line hopefully with a smile on my face.