Flashback to 2015 when my running life was almost perfect. I was writing about running for work and was surrounded by the sport at all times. My friends were runners, my co-workers were runners and we all pushed each other to new heights. I ran a PR for my 5K, and then went on to run the Marine Corps Marathon--my very first 26.2--in the same month.
But my time, 4:01:18, was just shy of a secret goal that I was deeply invested in.
During my 12 weeks of training, I told myself I could break four hours if I really tried. I ignored advice that told me to get to know the distance first and not set a hard time goal. I just figured that if I did every training run and worked really hard, it would all come together.
But in the last two miles, when everything started to hurt and the crowds of people began to blend together into colorful swirls, I slowed way down. I refused to look at my watch until I got to the finish line. Then, when I glanced down and confirmed the red four that stared back at me from the race clock, I started to cry.
I didn't feel the wave of accomplishment everyone said I would. I felt defeat. My feet cramped into tight balls. The phantom pain that appeared at mile 21 grew up through my shins. I kept checking and re-checking my splits. Where did that extra minute come from?
This is what happens to runners, especially the female runners I know. We joke about being Type-A, always on time, pressure-loving, goal-oriented, success junkies. And when we fail, we are hard on ourselves, never stopping to celebrate the successes we had on the way.