Race Memories: Friday Five

Race Memories: Friday Five

Best Race Memories

When I think back to my favorite race memories – some of my best race memories are not the races where I was “blazing fast”, but those that I remember because of the hard work and heartbreak that went in to training for it. Which is why even my 5k PR doesn’t make the list, because I didn’t specifically train for the 5k. It was enroute to training for a marathon and I just happened to PR.

1. The FIRST One – Georgia Half Marathon 2010

The race that started it all. I had no dreams of being a runner. I just had a dream to complete that half marathon and earn a big shiny medal. It (probably) wasn’t a good idea to do 13.1 miles just 3 months after you decide you want to do that distance, but I still did it.

The only runner I knew then was Mr. FauxTriathlete who had just completed his first half marathon. In spite of all his accusations that I am impulsive, never once did he tell me that he thought I was attempting the impossible. I trained to a program that was 4 days of running, and even when I had to call him to rescue me mid-run he  didn’t say anything against my attempt.

I did end up crawling the last 3 miles. But that dream bucketlist wasn’t a bucket list anymore. It started a quest for more.

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Read the Race Report here

2. The FIRST Marathon – Chicago Marathon 2011

They say you never forget your first. And I never will. 

Again, it started with a dream. A dream so wild that I never entertained a thought towards it. But the spark lingered. Could I do a marathon? Could I possibly do a marathon? And then that spark grew and grew until I could no longer withstand it. I had to try. I just had to. And I did just that. 

Stupid after only 20 months of getting up from the couch?
Afraid to follow my dream? 

My finish time was twice as much as what someone else in our group ran. But what stands out in my memory is not my finish time (although of course, I wanted to do better). What stands out is my training. I did not miss a single training run. I am not kidding. It might’ve been a “simple” plan of 4 days of running, but I did all of them. 

I sure know that the time of 6:14 did NOT define me as a first time marathoner. It was crossing that finish line that made me a marathoner.

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D Day – Owning Chicago. Race Report Here.

3. The PR Races – RnR New Orleans Marathon 2012

I had to redeem myself after Chicago. Not because of the time, but because I had mentally collapsed mid race. I had “help” finishing Chicago and I knew I could do better, I knew that I could run a marathon by myself – I was much stronger than how events at Chicago unfolded.  

I trained strong all throughout and I raced smart. Again, my PR time of 5:45 is not worthy of a mention amongst other finishers. But the effort I put in while training and the execution of race day strategy (which I came up with myself) put me on level ground with any of the faster finishers. 

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Read the race report here

 Another honorable PR mention is the Georgia Half Marathon 2011. I trained to run under 3hrs and I knew that race day would decide if I was going to sign up for a marathon or not (those were the days of races not selling out months in advance!).  Understanding my fetish desire to run a marathon, I made sure that I trained right and didn’t give any excuses. The result – a 11 minute PR of 2:49 (that record from 2011 still holds!)

4. When things don’t always go your way – Chicago Marathon 2012

This was to be my best marathon ever! I was running stronger than before and a whooping PR was going to be my reward.
Except – race day dawned and I woke up with the flu. I ran the race in a daze and my 5:58 was a a far cry from the 5:30 I had trained for

So why is this amongst my best race memories? 

Because training for it showed me not to be afraid. This was the first time I trained for a time goal, previously it was to “get better”. Now, all my runs were with a purpose, I had included swimming and yoga to keep me going. I was nervous with the pace workouts, but I did them all. 

I learnt to love the experience of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. To push harder than I thought I could go. I did whatever was in the best of my abilities, I just couldn’t predict falling sick on race day.

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Read the race report here

5.  Run for all things fun – Disney Princess 2011

This one is on my list purely for the fun element. It was my 4th half marathon and every one before that had been full of race day anxiety. Will I be able to finish, will I be able to get over the hills, will be able to run under 3 hours? No more of that!

The Princess race showed me what fun races could be. The race was a celebration of joy and fun that running brings. 

We all need races like this, no matter if we are Speedy Gazelle or Slowpoke Turtle – something that brings out the inner child in us, something that makes us appreciate how good we have it, something that makes us fall in love all over again. 

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Another honorable mention here is The Little Rock Marathon 2013. I went into the race *just* to hang out with the group and get that obscenely sized bling. I was burnt out from 3 marathons in 18 months AND the never ending sickness for the past six months starting from the flu during Chicago Marathon mentioned earlier. I was also battling some weird middle back issues and I was walking more than I was running. But I WAS walking, I didn’t wake up and line at the start. It was training on its own level. I was training to finish.
In hindsight – pulling out of the race might have saved me a few hundred dollars. But the race helped me rediscover my running self, I made some great  connections, and I was blown away by the determination of some amazing people.
I don’t regret doing that race.
Not one bit.

At the end of the day, we run or race triathlons for ourselves. Who in the wide world cares if I ran a 1:30 half marathon or a 1:30 10k? Can we bring about world peace and end world hunger by setting up ourself to finish at a certain time? And then again, who sets this mythical “fast” or “slow” time? Even amongst elites, a sub-4 mile that was once unattainable now only brings you a 10th place finish. (Conversely, why should I care if someone else judges me on how slow or how fast I am? I’m doing the best I can within the constraints that I have)

Maybe I am a little ultra sensitive right now (blame it on school, work, everything …) or maybe I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I am seeing a lot of posts about how speed is what makes the world go around and being slow is being not worthy. Or that being slow means you have to reconsider some of  your race decisions. While I respect the place where some these opinions are coming from (after all, I can’t hope to qualify for Boston if I’m running a 12mm pace), I firmly believe that speed or distance isn’t what defines an athlete. It is determination, passion, dedication, hard work and mental strength to handle whatever race day throws at you.

Success is 90% perspiration and only 10% inspiration. 

Every single of these races are my favorites because I trained hard for them. I did not waltz over to the starting line. Passion, sweat and dedication got me to the starting line. And took me to finish line. Just like it did for the top 10 finishers. Just like it did for the middle 100 finishers.

Each of us have different physical abilities. But what we all have in common is the desire to better ourselves, the passion for the sport and the acceptance that with hard work comes results. Even if those results mean Boston/Kona for some and finishing “just a 5k” for others. 

This post is inspired by the unnecessary yet never ending slow-fast debate of which I’ve witnessed FOUR in just this past week, Shawna’s post about about Desire and Ability and finally a chance for me to brag through the Friday Five Link up by with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar On The Run and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What.


What are your favorite race memories? What makes them your favorite?

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