Last month, we shared our worst races ever in the Just Run Round-up. This month, we are the opposite end of the spectrum: our best races ever. Successful races offer inspiration, both in daily training and in the challenging moments of racing itself. Before a big race, I rewatch videos of elites like Shalane and Desi and read race reports from runners I admire; hopefully you can find the same inspiration from today’s round-up!
The California International Marathon was a dream race in 2016; I ran a negative split, never had a bad mile, and ran my first Boston Qualifying finish time. The weather was perfect, my stomach behaved, and I wondered at times if I dreamt the entire thing.
California International Marathon in 2017 was a different story. This was not a seamless, flawless race as it was in 2016, but it stands out in my mind as my best race because of how I turned the race around and transformed what could have been a bad race into a marathon PR.
Desi Linden stated that she wanted to give up within the first six miles of the Boston Marathon this year. She ended up winning. Sometimes, the best race isn’t the one where the stars align – it’s the race where you decide that you are stronger than the circumstances of the day.
CIM 2017 played out a different narrative than the picture perfect race the year prior. Obstacles presented themselves: an upcoming surgery and diagnosis lurked as a specter in the background, I had some stomach issues and pelvic pain, and my knee ached, out of nowhere, throughout the middle miles.
Around mile 10, I debated if I should quit the race or slow down. My knee stung as I hugged the tangent on a turn and whenever I tried to pick up the pace, my gut threatened me. Maybe today is not my day, my mind whispered. What if this gets worse? We often tell ourselves the story that a good race should be free from adversity and that problems in the race are a sign of a bad race. But then I thought, I did not come this far to give up this easily. Today is my day.
The middle miles blurred together, some better than others, and none awful enough to warrant quitting. By the time I reached mile 21, my muscles seared with discomfort and fatigue. I wanted to slow down, now more than when my knee first ached. As I’ve mentioned several times before, I love myths and archetypes, and I found myself visualizing those moments – abyss, revelation, and ultimate achievement – from various stories. I could succumb, or I could push through until I finished and achieved my goal. After all, marathons are supposed to be hard. Hard wasn’t a reason to quit. Hard meant that I was giving everything that I could.
And so I embraced the discomfort, smiled at spectators, and ran. Each mile was harder than the previous, and so I dug a little bit deeper. Today is my day, I kept repeating to myself, hoping that my inner narrative would manifest into my actual performance.
I crossed the finish line in 3:29:43, just hitting my goal of breaking 3:30. CIM 2017 was my best race because I found a new level of strength in that race – the ability to push harder in the face of adversity. And if I can do that in a race, I sure believe you can as well.
The other ladies of the Just Run round-up are sharing their best races. I love reading other runners’ success stories and I hope you enjoy these as well!
Linking up with Coaches’ Corner and Wild Workout Wednesday!
What was your best race ever?
Yes, the best races are usually the ones that involve overcoming challenges! This was such a strong race for you, and hearing about these kinds of stories as well as those like Desi’s are so inspirational.
I know for me, my best races had nothing to do with the time on the clock. It had to do with overcoming an obstacle and coming out stronger on the other side.
YES!!!! I had a similar race in NYC and it made me so tough. Sometimes the “best” races are not the most obvious. So glad you shared BOTH stories!
That’s awesome! I love how you picked your best race to be something that you didn’t necessarily feel 100%. Sometimes the pain sucks but the outcome is all worth it!
The power of the mind is so darn amazing. You totally turned your race around because you believed in yourself! Love it. <3
this is a good question! I think my first answer would always be my first ever half marathon at Hershey park. nothing compares to a first race like that! And then maybe it’s a tie between two of. the Long Island Half marathons – my first on in 2013 and then the one you helped me get my pr for in 2016!
Reading this just gave me all the running feels. Those moments are tough but looking back and being able to say you made it through and kicked ass while doing is is something no one can ever take away. So awesome!
This was so inspiring to read! I’m glad you had such a great experience despite having so many challenges during your marathon! Digging deep and visualizing success really seems to make a difference when it gets tough out there!