As I struggled to think of a title of this blog post, I came across a card my college coach gave me before I left for Colorado to start this adventure. On the front was a quote from Neale Donald Walsch that said Life Begins at the End of your Comfort Zone. This quote accurately describes my race in Duluth this past weekend. I walked away after running 26.2 miles in a 13 second personal best (2:17:09) feeling disappointed yet very proud of myself.
This marathon was a great opportunity to take a risk. I opted to run Grandma’s Marathon because of the level of competition. It normally takes around 2:15 to win the race. I trained to run 26.2 miles at 2:15 marathon pace (~5:10/mi). I did all of the little things correct in training to get to the next level. All of those little things worked and I noticed a gigantic leap in my fitness. When I was on the start line at 7:30AM on Saturday morning I was barely nervous because I was 100% confident in my training. I quickly joined up with Matt Gabrielson and Jeffrey Eggleston and after about a 5:17 first mile, we picked up the pace. Letting go the lead pack of Africans we worked together for the first 4 miles until I was hanging onto them with mile splits consistently between 5:03-5:08 for miles 2-10. The ten mile split of 51:07 was simply too quick for my legs. I fell off of them and continued to run between 5:05-5:15 until around mile 18 when I faded to running mostly 5:20s. I made a choice to stay with them early even though it was a little faster than I had originally planned. Yet, I picked this race because I wanted to learn to compete in the marathon. I took the risk and went out of my comfort zone to try and run with them. They both had great races running 2:13:10-2:13:30. Could I have run my own pace from the start and run 2:15:xx-2:16:xx? I’m confident I could have. But, what would I have learned? If I never take a risk in racing I won’t really know how fast I can become. Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” On Saturday I took a shot at running a 2:13 marathon. Instead, I’m still a 2:17 marathoner. However, I’m a better competitor and I’ve learned more from taking that risk than running another 26.2 mile conservative effort. (Aside: I went out fast at the California International Marathon but that course is significantly more downhill in the first half so the effort was much less there).
Unfortunately I placed 11th overall, one spot from the prize money. I was also one spot from the prize money at the California International Marathon when I finished 6th and prize money was 5 deep. I’m not in the sport to make money but I’m in the sport to become the best I can be and hopefully help motivate others to try and become the best they can be in the sport of distance running. Yet, as a young distance runner out of college it’s a challenge to make a living out of racing. I’m not about to give up and will continue to live the dream training my @$$ off and giving it 100% everyday. These marathons have only made me hungrier for the next competitions where I can continue to push myself to knew personal best finishes.
The message of this post is that sometimes you simply have to look past your finishing time to appreciate the quality of your race. This weekend I made a leap forward by going out of my comfort zone and taking a risk early in the marathon. It wasn’t a stupid decision like going out in 2:08 marathon pace, but still a significant risk. I’ll continue to not set limits on myself and stride towards becoming the runner I keep visualizing in my mind’s eye.
Thank you everyone for the many texts, tweets, phone calls, facebook posts, etc that really helped. When I was struggling at mile 23 I was encouraged by the support from my friends I knew were watching and waiting for results. I’m lucky to have met so many great people in this sport and am truly living the dream because of all of you.