What I learnt from NOT making my goal at Marine Corps Marathon

What I learnt from NOT making my goal at Marine Corps Marathon

I had made no secret of my goal for Marine Corps Marathon (marathon #7) and on race day, I fell short. Although I had a wonderful experience at the MCM weekend , I missed my goal and my final time did not reflect the amount of training I had put in. I wrote about my wonderful experience and also about my heartbreak on race day. 

After having time to think back a bit, I’m reflecting on some of the lessons I think I’ve  learnt through the training cycle and on race day. 

Believe in yourself

All the training and hard work come to naught if it is not accompanied by self belief. And backing up the belief should be the coursge to make a push for a bold move.

I may have not made my goal, but the fact that I went in with a plan to give it a good shot speaks volumes about my belief that I could achieve (it hasn’t been easy learning to believe). I think that the belief has played a major part in why I have not completely drowned in sorrow at my results. I believe I can get there and if not this time, then next time. If not next time, then the time after. 

You win some, You lose some

Going into MCM, there was no doubt in my mind of the outcome. It wasn’t even a question of if I’d PR, it was a question by how much. When I read back to my emotions during the race, I still feel the sting of tears and an overwhelming sadness. How in the world did the outcome change so much than what I thought it would be?

I had an unexpectedly awesome race at the Craft Classic Half Marathon. I won that day. This time, I lost at Marine Corps Marathon.

That’s not to say that there won’t be more. There will be lots more races in my future. I will succeed marvelously in some, and will fall flat heartbreakingly in some. You win some, you lose some, you learn from all.

Always earned, Never given

In my detailed race report, I wrote on receiving my medal from a Marine that day – “Being medaled by a marine was way more than I deserved that day.”

On reading the race report, a friend texted me, “You just ran a marathon, woman. Take pride in that before you look at the failure.”

After my A goal (best race scenario), B goal (safe bet that I can get to), my C goal (no way I’m not making this) all kept vanishing one by one, my new improvised goal was a prayer of “please let me finish under 6hrs, please let me finish under 6hrs, please let me finish under 6hrs”. It would’ve been so comforting to walk the last 7 miles in. Attempting to keep going after the goals had long gone – so in some tiny way, perhaps I did earn it. 

No Regrets

I want to go into a race without regrets on how my training went – I did.

I want to finish a race without regrets at what I could’ve done – I did (even when you discount the finish time).

And that’s how I try to face everything – to go into it without regrets and to come out of it without regrets knowing that I did everything I had in my control. 

(My favorite sportsperson for life was/is Steve Waugh, ex-captain of the Australian Cricket team. He is also a gripping writer and one of his tour diaries is called ‘No Regrets’, chronicling the team’s loss, taking risks and eventual success in the 1999 World Cup.)

Be Thankful, Be Grateful

I think in all my emotional state during the race and even before, I forgot this very basic fact. 

If I had remembered to be thankful that my body is healthy enough and able to do this, if I’d remembered the spirit of the Marine Corps Marathon, if I had remembered to be grateful to my friends, my mentors, my family and my coach who all  played an very important part in my journey to the start line of MCM, perhaps I would not have felt that utter despondency at mile 26.

I hope I will remember these lessons and carry them with me to the next race, for there WILL be another marathon and another attempt to chase down that goal. But what or where or when that next race is, I need to figure that out. 

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  • Laetitia

    I know it’s disappointing but you still did more than most people did that day. You put yourself out there, you pushed yourself. It was a hard race…

  • Andrea Signor

    I think it’s fantastic that you ran the race at all! That is such a hardcore test of strength, will, and ability. You should be proud!

  • I know you were disappointed, but just keep reminding yourself that you finished something that less than 0.1% of the US population does!

  • Michelle@Running with Attitude

    Great lessons learned. Finishing MCM is a huge accomplishment – it was a tough day!

  • This sounds SO much like my post-Route 66 Marathon “reflections” post, almost a year ago. My race was also very disappointing (I had a weird hip/groin pain that came from outta nowhere around the second mile…and plagued me all the way to the finish line). I spent several miles arguing with myself about turning around and finishing “just the half” or forging on ahead and finishing “the full” (which is what I had trained for). I was frustrated with the fact that I was ready for a much faster finish than what the race day allowed me to have…and eventually I came to accept that I still won the battle. Had I not been in such great shape, I would not have had the strength to keep going…even though it meant I was finishing a good 30-minutes longer than I’d envisioned. Bottom line, I know I have it in me (and so do YOU), we just need a better opportunity to prove it. Onward! 😉

  • Your friend was right – finishing is a HUGE accomplishment. And it is VERY hard to keep going once your goals are out of site — that takes real grit.

  • Mary

    Well you’ve done more than me in running– I’ve never run the marathon distance at all. Being grateful is a great way to be happier as you go along, I too need to work on that habit.

  • Kimberly

    Awesome lessons learned for the race! I know it’s really disappointing when you don’t make your time goal, but I give you a lot of credit for still powering through, especially in those later miles.

    Totally understand how you felt about your finish time not selecting all the hard training that you put in for the race. I had a horrible race experience at Chicago and it took me days to finally accept the fact that I actually completed a marathon. I was so caught up on the time that I didn’t give myself any credit for actually finishing the race – so silly, I know!

  • The Accidental Marathoner

    I don’t really set time goals for races. I’m happy just to finish. So far, so good!

  • eatrunsail

    Good to put some time and distance in before reflecting back… I am glad you found so many positives and that you are looking forward to another down the road.

  • Kathryn Thayer

    Yes to all of these lessons. Running a marathon is so hard, and its just a mental let down when we don’t make our goals. But remember that running a marathon is a huge accomplishment, and you should be quite proud of finishing MCM, regardless of what your finish time was.

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