Failure

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end.  Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing” –Denis Waitley

I love this quote, though it wasn’t until recently that I really embraced its meaning.

Preface: I was scheduled to run the full at Cowtown on March 1st, but was ice stormed down to the half.  All of my training had targeted March 1st.  I replaced Cowtown with Irving, my coach adjusted the training plan, and we went from there.  I had a couple of bad weeks right after cowtown, partially caused by depression from the cancellation and a couple other unrelated events, but also due to a massive drop in my Iron levels.  We caught the Fe change quickly and I was able to bounce back within a couple of weeks.  I also haven’t PRed in anything since last October which was Chicago.  My 5k PR was in July 2014 and my half PR was May 2014.

Saturday, I ran the Irving Marathon; A course I had anticipated being fairly flat and fast-I made this assumption based on prior knowledge of where most of the course was located, but didn’t look at where the newer parts of the course took us..oops.  I was aiming to finally drop below my heart breaking PR of 4:00:00 set at Chicago (I’ve never felt so defeated by a PR before) and become a true sub-4 marathoner.  I was primed.  I was ready.  I’ve haven’t felt this healthy in a long time.  No aches, no pains.  Charles and I started off strong, holding a solid 8:45 pace for 13 miles.  Legs felt great, but around mile 10 I started having some stomach problems, quite a bit of nausea, ended up throwing up a little bit, nothing huge, but enough to tense me up for another 2 miles until I finally had to bail on Charles, making a pit stop at mile 13.  This was mistake number 1.  I think if we would have stayed together, both of us would have broken 4 hours.  We run really well together; he and Grant have become irreplaceable running partners.  After 13, I tried to find a new rhythm with my slightly aggravated digestive tract. I was still a little nauseous, so convincing myself to put GU into my stomach wasn’t happening.  I finally forced myself to take half the GU I had at mile 17, but it was kind of too little, too late.  I was able to continue with a fairly consistent pace up to mile 20. I had almost exactly 60 minutes to complete the last 6 miles, which on a decent day I can pull a 49 minute 10k, so I still felt pretty golden.  At 21, I finally caught back up with Charles, who encouraged me to go on without him.  My legs felt strong, but around 23, I started to crash nutritionally.  At 24, with 18 minutes left, I still had hope, but by 25 I was in tears because I knew I couldn’t make it.  I had failed…again.  It took me about 45 seconds to re-compose myself to a point where I could run again, and once I did I tried to hold my head high and finish with pride.  A 4:04 is nothing to be ashamed of, and to finish 100% sound with no pain is enough to throw a party about. But, I had still failed to reach my goal….that’s the 3rd marathon in a row to become a ‘could have been,’ which is what every race seems to be lately.

Sometimes it’s hard to remind yourself of the good while going through the bad.  Luckily, I have so many supportive and awesome friends, many of which were running their first marathon at Irving.  It’s exciting to be a part of someone’s first attempt at such a feat.  The feelings and emotions are raw and true; there is nothing more honest than watching people at the end of a race.  I saw Charles finish, only a few minutes behind me, followed by Lynell, Rebecca and Lanny, all first time marathoners.  I got to see Karen, Heidi, Ruth and Corey on course, in addition to the ones above.  There were many great things about this race, which were temporarily shadowed by my internal feelings of defeat at mile 25.

In the end, Irving did not defeat me, it merely delayed what will be an ever-so-sweet victory in Kentucky(hopefully!).  I learn something during every race, and more from the races which aren’t picture perfect.  Failure only truly comes to those who fail to keep trying, which is one problem I do not have.

*end note: As I said before, I love this quote, as it pertains to athletes and life in general, but would not agree with it fully if it were brought up in the classroom…just sayin….

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