I am proud of my race times. A lot of training (and a little luck) went into achieving those times, and I’m still constantly working to improve on them. They don’t define me though. I don’t hang my self-worth on whether or not I sub-4 in the marathon (I haven’t, but that is a goal of mine), or get a PR in a race. I strive for goal times, and I hope to achieve them, but I do not lose a piece of myself if I don’t hit that time. Why? Because a race time is just a number. It doesn’t come with a little asterisk that says*
*41-year-old female, 5’6.5″ and 133 pounds, running since March 2011, Graves’ Disease, three children, recovering from injury, raced some serious hills and fought the wind (does that sound like some Fit Fun Mom you know?), or
*dealt with typhoon-like rain in Sacramento for CIM 2012 (“365 days of awesome” blog), or
*was the victim of an unavoidable bike crash at IMAZ (“Cook Train Eat Race” blog), or
*got up with the baby three times during the night before the race (any new-ish mother, anywhere).
Those aren’t excuses. I’m saying that it’s useless to tie your self-worth to a race time because there’s never going to be another person out there just like you, racing under conditions just like yours.
Think about it another way. Who is more “worthy” of admiration after completing a marathon?
1. The 23-year-old female who’s been running for 5 years and comes in at around 3 hours.
2. The 41-year-old female who’s been running for 1.5 years and comes in at around 4 hours (*cough cough*).
3. The 35-year-old with type 2 diabetes who’s lost 30 pounds in training and comes in around 5 hours.
I’d argue they are equally worthy of admiration. They each ran 26.2 miles. They each put in a tremendous amount of effort to achieve those times. They each faced different challenges on race day.
I race against me, myself and I, and sometimes it’s still not a fair race. When you sign up in November for a race in June, who knows what will happen in between now and then? Injury? Family crisis? Weather? Perfect conditions? Crash? Take your satisfaction from checking off each workout in the training plan. Consider any race finish the icing on the cake. And if you do happen to PR? We know it was hard-fought and well-earned and should be celebrated.