Victory

As promised, I ran the Indy Mini last Saturday. I did it knowing I wouldn’t be able to match the time I posted two years ago, so I approached the start line with bittersweet resignation. As the minutes ticked down to the start of the race, I let anticipation and excitement take over. My legs itched to move, move, move. Besides, I had run the distance the weekend before so I knew I could do it, and I knew what pace I could comfortably achieve. I couldn’t wait to get started.

When we finally took off–all 35,000 of us–I felt great. The first mile was slow, as it always is, as the pack spread out and people wove in and out. I finally hit my stride, and by the 5K mark I was on pace with where I wanted to be. By the time I hit the Yard of Bricks (the start/finish line on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, just over the halfway point of the race), I had improved my pace even more. Things were looking good.

Then I hit a wall. I don’t know what exactly happened, but suddenly, my will and my body let me down. I struggled for the rest of the race, watching my pace plummet on my snazzy watch with each mile that passed. Although I had averaged an 8:25/mile pace for the first half of the race, I finished with an overall average of 9:28/mile. That’s about 45 seconds/mile worse than I expected, and 1:28/mile worse than the last time I ran this race. If I were the crying type, I would have burst into tears after I crossed the finish line. Instead, I’ve carried the overwhelming burden of disappointment with me all weekend.

I’ve been analyzing and re-analyzing every step of the race since I peeled off my sweaty shoes and chucked them in the corner. I’ve made a long list of changes and plan to get started right away. I can do better. I will do better. Next time.

But here’s the rub.

Even though I wrote the post, Redefining Success, less than two weeks ago, I forgot all about it. I forgot that sticking it out no matter what counts for something. I forgot to enjoy the moment.

I re-read that post this morning and have since tried to look at this experience differently. I crossed that finish line sweaty and spent. I didn’t waltz around the course; I gave it all I had. I didn’t give up. Is it possible that victory was mine after all? I’m not quite there yet, but I’m beginning to hear that comforting whisper.