I don't consider myself a veteran runner by any means. Most often, I tell people that I am knew to the sport. I've only truly been running for about 4 years.
As I've talked about before, I ran my first half marathon when I was in college. The only goals I had were to finish and not walk, both of which I accomplished. After that first race, where I ran a 2:17, I made drastic improvements in my race times. My second half marathon, which I was incredibly under trained for, I ran in 1:58, which thrilled me. Races continued to go better and better.
Then I started to have some success. Real success. Not only were my times improving, I started to win a few awards and place in my age group. Running helped improve all the other areas of my life. Some people would say to me that running came naturally, which I disagreed with. I had to work hard to improve.
Prior to Sunday's race, I had high hopes for myself. My training had gone fairly well this year, and I felt good. Everything was perfect...and I thought I could PR.
Then during the race I stopped to walk just about 4 miles. And as I walked, I wanted to quit. After 1 minute of walking, I knew my PR would not happen. Shortly after, the 1:45 pace group went by, then the 1:50 group, then the 2:00 group near the end. It was so hard to get passed by so many people, and not pass a single person.
I questioned everything. My training, why I run in the first place, my upcoming marathon, my hopes and dreams related to running. All of my confidence turned into questions.
It would have been easier to quit the half marathon than to walk so much of it. It was so much harder to keep walking and getting passed by so many people. It took a lot of courage to finish this race, but I am glad that I did.
Fast runners get awards and lots of recognition for their achievements. The runners who finish near the end of the race do not get any of that. Many times people are rude to them, cutting them off by walking in front while they are still running or thinking thoughts like "how could they be so slow?" This race revealed to me that these runners have so much more courage than the faster runners. They continue to run knowing that they will not win anything. They continue to run when everyone else is finished, which takes a lot of courage.
It would have been far easier to quit the race, but I kept going. It was hard, but I don't quit. On Sunday, I did the best I could do on that day. Throwing out my Spring marathon at this point in my training cycle is not going to happen. I've been training for this one race since before Christmas. I'll have trained over 4 months by the time race day arrives. I only have 1 long run left to accomplish before the taper begins. When race day comes, I hope I have the same courage I had on Sunday...to keep pressing on when the race gets tough.