Two years ago, my husband and I participated in a St. Patrick’s Day 5K- The Blarney Stone 5K. I had blogged about the experience, due to it being my first real race after having a baby just 5 months before. I remember how strange my body felt, how obviously different and surreal the experience was. The last run had been at the end of 2009. Most of 2010 was spent pregnant (and I was one of those women who always felt like she had a rather large bowling ball hanging low in her mid-section; no running for me). I did the best I could that day, pulling out 32 minutes after all was said and done. I was extremely proud of that time.
For any runner, a major goal is to improve your time, to hit a personal record. It means you’ve worked harder, that you’ve gained speed and endurance. I’ve done a handful of runs since that Blarney run two years ago, some 5K’s, 10K’s, halves and fulls, and while the best time I’ve ever hit was 26 minutes for a 5K, it’s never been consistent. I can’t seem to get below that time, and in many races I’ve gone up a minute or two (or more) with my time. I could blame the weather. Maybe one race was much windier than another, or very cold and nasty. I could also pin it on the terrain; obviously, there will be routes that are flat and/or downhill, while others are splattered with hills that would be a challenge for any runner, seasoned or otherwise. Maybe I didn’t feel up to par, or I had some sort of injury I was recovering from. Really, the list could go on and on, but bottom line: it is what it is. Each day is different for me. Whose to say each race won’t go differently, as well?
I don’t expect to be the 1st person to cross the finish line. It would be an amazing experience, but it’s OK if it never happens. I appreciate hitting a PR, and I feel immense pride when I do, yet I’ve always tried to keep focused on what the goal is for me, while racing. It’s to run. I don’t want to ever lose that focus, or forget that passion, because when you forget the passion you forget why you ever stuck with something in the first place. I’m not in competition with everyone around me; I’m in competition with myself. If I don’t do as well during one race, my life will continue on. I appreciate the fact that I’m given the chance to even do this, period!
Yesterday, my husband and I laced up our running shoes and braved the cold for another Blarney Stone 5K. It’s been two years. We were at the back of the pack when the race started, and you have to weave around gobs of people, muddy terrain in certain spots, and nasty wind that did nothing but give a lot of resistance, but no one seemed discouraged. I came in at 27:45, an 8:56 pace. It’s not my worst time, but it’s not my best, either. I didn’t feel upset by this fact, that I’d let myself down, or that I didn’t train hard enough to really make the 5K happen. It is what it is, and I appreciate each and every day that enables me to be a running participant, whether it’s in a race, or on the open road. I want to always feel and recognize the joy, always.
Life is a journey, not a destination. -Ralph Waldo Emerson