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Saturday, March 24, 2012

There is more to running than trying to beat the clock

I think I may have mentioned that I have three marathons coming up in the near future.  I may have failed to mention that I did, in fact, run a marathon last weekend.  If I am going to be totally honest, I didn't really leave it out, per se.  I actually wasn't sure if I was going to run it or not. It had been on my schedule since January, but based on the terrible experience I had at the Five Points of Life Marathon here in Gainesville, I wasn't sure I was ready to get back to a full 26.2 miles.  I was on the fence until the day before we were scheduled to leave.  I had scaled back my training- both in the gym and on the road.  My runs had finally started to feel normal again.  My heart rate was back where it should be and the effort level to maintain my regular pace was on track as well.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to chance anything.  After all my goal is to feel great while running Boston...and California..and Pittsburgh, but especially Boston.

I knew I would have a great time, after all we would be staying with Katie's family and they are absolutely amazing. Her dad, Don, is a member of the 50 States Marathon Club- meaning he has run a marathon or longer in each of the 50 states. He actually finished his 74th marathon today. Her mother, Bobbie, is an avid runner and both of her brothers (Matt and Brad) are ultra runners often running 50K, 50 mile and 100 mile races.  In fact, it was Katie's brother Matt that ran across the state of Florida back in January.  I accompanied Katie, her dad and Matt on this truly awe inspiring journey. So there was no doubt in my mind that the weekend would be amazing.  It was the marathon I wasn't so sure about.

Turns out the race went really well.  I started a bit slower than normal and planned on just taking it easy letting my body dictate the speed.  I felt stronger in the second half, actually felt like I was 'on', and picked up the pace just a little bit.  Should I? Should I hold back? I just wanted to finish the race still feeling great.  I went with it and in the end was still smiling and feeling great.  I collected my gear I found my way to where Bobbie and Jenny were standing.
"How did you feel?" were the first words out of Bobbie's mouth.
"I felt great", I said.
"Oh, I'm so glad" she said.

She couldn't be more glad than I was..or could she? A family of runners, dedicated distance runners knows what this sport is all about. Feeling good, finishing strong and enjoying those around you. Less experienced people or those who do not understand the true meaning of the sport may have asked "What was your time?" or "What was your pace?".   No, not this family.  "How did you feel?" THAT is the true measure of the race.  I would be lying if I said I didn't have a goal time in my mind.  I do.  I want to run my goal time AND feel great.  Running a decent time and feeling awful is NOT my idea of a good race.  Ever.  I consider this a much better race than some in which my clock time may have been faster.  You heard me right, this was slower than some of my previous races and I consider this race more of a victory!

You see, running is more about conquering yourself, your fears, and coming out on the other side feeling great and less about the time on the clock.  I'm looking forward to coming out on the other side of Copley Square smiling and feeling great and when you see me, ask me how I felt and not what my time was. Then no matter how new you are to the sport, you'll sound like a pro!

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