The Path Forward

Sometimes the path forward isn’t always clear.

That’s true in life and running.

After running Grandma’s Marathon on Saturday, that’s certainly the case for me.

There was good reason to feel confident heading into the race; training had gone exceptionally well, especially since the Fargo Marathon, and most of the details leading up to the starting gun seemed perfect. Once again, race organizers and the Duluth community proved they know how to host a marathon, particularly one of the largest in the country.

However, something went awry on my way from Two Harbors to Canal Park. By the time I reached the 10K timing mat, my average mile splits were perfect. Even at the halfway point, everything appeared to be going well. It unraveled during the second half and despite responding a handful of times to rally with a surge, my finishing time came nowhere near my expectations.

When training goes well, and we accomplish our goals, running can bring a tremendous amount of satisfaction. It leaves us fulfilled but wanting to chase loftier goals. So what do we do when the stars appear to align and the outcome falls so far short of expectations? What happens when the outcome leaves us feeling empty and disappointed?

The goal last Saturday was to improve on my qualifying time in hopes of gaining entry into the 2018 Boston Marathon. Plan B doesn’t look promising, either.

Perhaps I’m just one long run away from finding the path forward.



2 Responses

  1. Steve –

    As a runner (myself) who is heavy on fast twitch, and rather light on the slow, I realize that I am only going to be able to run (on average over X distance) so fast a pace, regardless of input factors.

    And upon reading your lament over your Grandma’s performance, a quote I recall from a running book I read last year popped into my head (though maybe not verbatim):

    “You’re only one injury away from oblivion.”

    In parallel to such – and specifically regarding pre-race factors which could negatively affect race performance – we’re potentially only one step removed from a bad race due to incorrect 12-16 week training blocks, poor diet, insufficient tapering/recovery, inadequate race week salt intake, restless sleep 2 or 3 nights before, mental or emotional stress, or any of many other seemingly insignificant factors which nevertheless can drain our energy or distract us (such as having Levi’s 3-wheeler shoved into our heel while lined up with the 1:45 pace group at the 2017 Fargo Half Marathon).

    In sum:

    subpar performances happen to everyone, at some point.

    Just remember not to beat yourself up over it.

    Good racin’ to ya!

    Tim W.

    1. Thanks, Tim, for the note. You’re right, so many things can factor into a good (or bad) race. As usual, Grandma’s was a terrific race, but the lingering injury just didn’t allow for the performance I expected, but I suppose that’s the way injuries go. Good luck at the races!

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