No matter what comes my way in life, I never have regrets about anything. Because every obstacle along with every win, absolutely everything that happens to you, makes you who you are today. I truly believe that, and I know that every time I fail, I try harder. It motivates me to try harder. To do better. I learn from my mistakes, from my failings, and improve.
Most failings no one knows about, because as humans we often internalize our fears and doubts and bad days. Lots of events that could be called a regret, people do know about, due to their trivial or ridiculous nature. I wouldn’t be who I am today, I wouldn’t have overcome those obstacles and become a stronger person if I hadn’t failed in those various ways or had to overcome the obstacles that I faced. They made me mentally stronger and able to deal with and achieve so much more. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my life - so I live it with no regrets.
The only problem with this way of living, is that some days, when you do fail, it really really sucks. And no one really gets it. When I keep doing better and better, and then I do fail, it feels like the world crashes. Because once you start doing so well, you continue to win, you get this high, a sense of euphoria, and begin to feel invincible. And when you realize you aren’t, when the façade shatters, you have to pick up the pieces, and make something out of it. View it in a positive way, to move forward, and let it motivate you to do better. Or at least you try to…
Today I ran my third half marathon. My third half marathon in 5 months, with my second half marathon completed a mere 3 weeks ago. I completed my first half marathon in New York, the 2013 Manhattan Half Marathon on January 27 this year. I finished with a time of 1:54:13, and was stoked. My goal was to finish, run the entire way, and not have my knee act up. I had injured my knee 9 months prior, and had been recovering from two small tears in my meniscus, and patellofemoral syndrome. My first run back into it was a 5km Color Run with two of my close friends in San Diego in November 2012, 7 months after my injury, with many months of physical therapy. It had been a long recovery, so to finish a half marathon, and to finish in under 2 hours, was a huge victory.
I was ecstatic. For days I was smiling and just couldn’t believe it. At one point in the race, I started to cry tears of joy, because I was running my first half marathon, I was running it in New York, around central park, with snow on the ground, my knee wasn’t in pain, I had magic running pants, and ‘Don’t you worry child’ had just come onto my iPod. It was the most amazing feeling running it, and crossing that finish line.
So once I finished, I set my sights high, decided to do a second half marathon, the Wellington one in June 2013. I wanted to improve my time, and finally decided on 1:45 as a good goal. I honestly didn’t think it was something I could achieve, but I wanted to push myself. And push myself I did.
Three weeks ago, I completed the Christchurch half marathon in 1:43:35 – a time that completely blew me away, especially because my calves were tiring and in pain from the 14th to 19th kilometer. But I beat my goal, and felt amazing. I was number 76 out of 925 female finishers – the top 9%. The top 25% of all male and female finishers. I felt awesome. I was awesome. It made me feel addicted. Addicted to running. That rush of crossing the finish line. I wanted to run another half marathon, right then on the spot. Keep going. The feeling of being invincible began to set in…
And today, I ran the Wellington half marathon. New Zealand has had all kinds of crazy weather this week, with a big storm hitting Wellington on Thursday – trees falling, power out to 30,000 homes, rain, 130 km/h winds (around 80 mph) – just insane. This morning it all cleared, but it was still very cold (not nearly as cold as New York in winter though, or Boston, where I went for a half hour run when it was -15 degrees Celsius!). In addition, we still had 30 km/h wind, and as the route was around the Wellington bays, it was very very exposed. My calves didn’t hurt, I didn’t run out of breath or out of steam, but in the first 2km I had to stop and massage my knee, as it felt like it was starting to act up. Then, the wind didn’t help. And when I approached the stadium, was 1.5km out, my iPhone told me that I had run for 1:40 – I knew I wasn’t going to beat my 1:43. My mind gave up, despite wanting to still make sub-1:45, knowing that I wasn’t going to achieve a personal best meant that my body subconsciously stopped trying as hard.
I still did it in 1:46:16. Which honestly, is a good time. Top 15% of female finishers and top 30% of all female and male finishers. I should be happy. I should be thrilled. I ran 21km today. I have done three 21km races in the last five months. I did that. I ran that today. That is awesome. Not many people I know can say they have achieved that. As the signs on the road said, I am an athlete.
But still, my heart sank when I crossed the finish line. Knowing I didn’t run fast enough. I should have run faster. I could have run faster. And that is the problem with goals – when you don’t achieve them, it sucks. You look for excuses – my knee, the wind, the cold. But really, all I feel is that I didn’t do enough. I wasn’t focused enough. I didn’t run hard enough. Because when I run a race, all I think about is finishing. I listen to music, and think about the run – think about finishing, achieving my goal, my goal is what gets me through. So to not finish, it feels like the last two hours was a waste. Like I should have just stayed in bed.
I can at least take solace in the fact that, upon comparing the Wellington half times with the Christchurch Airport half times, the Chch times were on average 3 minutes and 30 seconds faster than the Wellington times. So I guess with Wellington having 30 km/h wind, and Christchurch being very still, the wind had a negative impact of around 200 seconds on people’s times. At some points, the wind was actually horrendous. Especially at the 15th kilometer when you have already run so far, and know you still have to run 6km, and you want those 6km to be epic. So if I take off 00:03:30 off of my 1:46:16, that gives me 1:42:46 – faster than my Christchurch time, and a new personal best – but it still doesn’t feel like I really achieved that.
So where am I going with this? I ran 21km today. I ran the entire way, with an average pace of around 5 minutes per kilometer. I didn’t stop. I kept going. Sure, I didn’t achieve a new personal best. But you know what? The Taupo half is only 6 weeks away. The Napier one is soon after. There are plenty of chances for me to achieve under 1:40:00. I wanted to achieve 1:45:00 before I stopped training hard for a while – take a break. I achieved that three weeks ago. And I don’t feel satisfied – I want to do better. See what I mean – failing makes me try harder. It also makes me crazy – most people can’t believe I put myself through this. But it is a physical challenge and a mental challenge. A huge accomplishment. Only once you have run a half marathon yourself can you really understand what it is like to run that distance and accomplish it. So I apologize body – you thought you were going to get a break. You aren’t. Six more weeks…then maybe, maybe, you will get a break.