Success in Failure
A week ago, I ran a half marathon. My sixth, actually. I wasn’t really supposed to run a half marathon though, I was supposed to run a marathon.
I was in a bar helping my friend film one of her amazing videos and my beautiful, wonderful, darling friend Nicole mentioned that she was running the Missoula Marathon. I told her that sounded terrifying, she told me I should give it a shot, and I signed up that night.
I’ve spent the last few months of my life training for said marathon. I’ve done 10 mile runs, 18 mile runs, 20 mile runs, sprint training, cycling on rest days…I’ve done the whole thing. It was awful. I was tired all the time. I didn’t have days off and when I took a day off I felt guilty. I tried to eat well and failed and felt bad about it. All in all, it was not my thing. I was proud of myself though. I wasn’t doing perfectly but I was doing and that was good enough for me.
The weekend of the race was coming up and the forecast said to look forward to 100 degree weather. Heat and I don’t do well, in particular during a run. As the day came closer and the forecast wasn’t changing, the marathon directors decided to cut the amount of time the course would be open in order to keep the runners safe in the heat. I had been training to do the marathon in 7 hours and they had cut the time to 6.5 hours. There was no way I would be able to train my body to cut at least a half hour off my time in a week.
After wallowing a bit and a lot of anger, I went to the race expo the day before the race and downgraded to the half marathon. I felt horrible about it. I don’t really know if I can explain just how terrible I felt about it. I was a bit surprised by my reaction actually. I had an out, I had a reason to not put my body through a whole lot of pain, and I was pissed about it. It felt like the months of my life had been for nothing; the weekends I had given up for long runs, the nights I had lost to the sound of feet to pavement, the sheer soreness that I had to contend with every single day, had been useless.
It had been a talking point for so long and had been a point of pride whenever anyone had asked me what I was up to. “Oh I’m training for a marathon!” And then they’d give me a look, tell me that they couldn’t imagine doing anything like that and how that was just amazing. I’m not normally one to take the attention but, oh man, that part was great.
And in a matter of days, it felt like I had lost all of that.
I had to give up and I had to utterly fail at running a marathon.
But I still woke up the next day at 3:50 in the morning, threw my race clothes on, and shuttled my surly way to the start line where I watched the sun come up as I stretched and stressed and did a bit more wallowing and just tried to breathe. I lined up with everyone else and set my app to track me. We listened to the national anthem and the fireworks were set off. I pulled myself together and set my anger to my legs.
And then I ran the best and fastest half marathon I’ve ever ran.
And man, that’s something.