I’ve had a couple days to collect my thoughts since Stone Mill 50 this past Saturday. I ended up missing the second-to-last time cutoff by 8 minutes and so finished with a total of 35 miles instead of the 50 I had hoped for.
Normally, I’d be irate with myself for missing my goal. I can be self-destructive in that way, critiquing what I did wrong and allowing the words “I’m not good enough” poison my brain.
Contrary to the norm, I now find myself oddly content with the results from the race, and I think I’ve figured out why.
The thing about ultrarunning, like many things, is that your performance doesn’t lie. You get exactly what you put into it. Either you put in the work and you trust your training to take you to the finish line, or you don’t put in the work and you get lucky or you don’t.
If I’m being honest with myself, which running forces you to do, I did not put in the amount and quality of training that my body required to take me to the finish line – plain and simple. That’s not to say I didn’t try. I’ve been running all year and specifically training for the 50-mile distance for 25 weeks. However, looking back through my training journal, my training was very inconsistent, and I met few of my goals for weekly mileage, types of runs and long run distances. I also did less and less strength training between the Summer and Fall months.
This past year has been pretty trying for me. I traveled quite a bit for work, had a job transition that required me to work overtime, and dealt with some difficult personal health issues. But these aren’t excuses for not running enough — this is my LIFE. Life happens. And I’m learning how to be present in all the wonderful fleeting moments of life without focusing too much on one aspect. In the midst of life unfolding, secondary priorities such as running take both steps forwards and backwards; but as long as you’re continually striving for betterment, that’s all that matters. I gave training my best with what I was able to give, and that is why I’m content.
For me, giving my best this year meant running one half marathon, two full marathons, three 50Ks, one 50-miler-turned-35-miler, and a handful of fun runs. That’s more than I could have ever imagined a few years ago. And except for one event where I ended up really hurting, I had a blast at each and every race. I even got the opportunity to volunteer at MMT and witness people running 100 miles for the first time — super inspiring. Looking back on this year, I met some cool people, enjoyed some sick trails, spent hours and hours outdoors in all kinds of weather and had fun.
If you give something your best, learn lessons for improvement and have a good time, you can still be successful – even if you do miss a few goals along the way. So take a step back, evaluate what you can do better next time, keep smiling, and get back out there. A new adventure always awaits.