Turtle vs. Hare
The turtle and the hare discussion comes up quite a bit in running. Are you a front-of-the-pack runner? middle-of-the-pack? back-of-the-pack? You may have heard the phrase "slow and steady" wins the race. Well, I'm pretty sure the steady part is accurate - did you see Patrick Makau's splits when he set the world record in Berlin??? 1:01:44 first half and 1:01:54 second half. But as has been proven time and time again - fast and steady wins the race.
It never fails that if you mention you ran a race, someone will ask you how fast. I remember after my first marathon, which I finished in 5:12, having someone the next week say "oh, you ran a marathon? what does that take, like 3 or 4 hours?"
I started out as a back-of-the-pack runner and have slowly crawled up to a middle-of-the-pack runner. I am fairly confident that I did not hit the genetic lottery with regards to speed, and seriously don't even have thoughts of every becoming a front-of-the-pack runner. Not even sure what I'd do up there!
But here we are all living in the blog world together - super speedies winning races and age group awards, middle-of-the-pack constantly striving for their PR, and back-of-the-pack looking for the strong finish. I'm thrilled when I see someone Boston Qualify, even though that's something that really isn't even on the radar for me. I'm just as excited to hear of someone struggle through every step of a 7 hour marathon and finish with their head held high.
The point here is... we all have our own trophies! Whether those trophies be an award, a PR, or just the pride of finishing - we're all out there striving for something better. It's so easy to get caught up in this person or that person's pace. And I'm not going to lie and say it doesn't happen to me too. I won't lie and say I'm not a bit jealous when I see a new runner right out of the blocks hit a 9:00 min/mile that I've struggled for 2 years to hit and can still only hold for probably 4 miles. And yes, occassionally it'll hit a chord when I work my rear off training, and see someone that didn't put in nearly as many miles, just naturally push through much faster than me. But with all that said, I know my competition is ME. I know that I'm here to impress no one but myself.
Ask those who know me, I am extremely competitive... Running is a funny sport, though. It allows us to be really competitive without minimizing anything else others are doing. Sure, I've picked out random people during races and tried to keep up with them or maybe pass them at the end, but at the end of the day, there's no one that would upset me if they finished before me. The only thing I judge the day on is whether or not I performed to the best of my abilities.
In the blog-world where capabilities are so varying, it's sometimes easy to forget when Speedy-McSpeedy-Pants says they had an awful run where he/she only posted 8 min/mile that it in no way diminishes your excellent run where you managed to get 12 min/miles. It's important to remember that people's triumphs and disappointments are with their own performances. I don't know how many runners have mentioned tanking a run and their time was still much faster than mine on a good day. Remember to take the lessons, celebrate in their triumphs, share in their disappointments, but remember that your race is your own!
(And yes, I purposely slipped in an MCM finish photo... since I somehow keep forgetting that I have another marathon in just 17 days.)