Failed, But Not A Failure

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I failed. My goal was to run a 3:30 marathon in Indy, but I finished in 3:42. I didn’t reach my goal. I failed.

I can make excuses. The weather was pretty terrible; 18 mph winds are not ideal for racing a marathon. When it feels like 30 degrees and your fingers are frozen, it’s difficult to open your GU. Milo had gotten a cold the week prior to the marathon and graciously shared it with me. What if things had been different? What if it wasn’t so windy? What if I hadn’t spent my taper fighting illness? What if it’s not my fault I ran a 3:42?

Who cares? I can imagine a million different scenarios in which maybe I could have gotten the 3:30, but in the end it really doesn’t matter. Sure, I’m disappointed. I was 7 minutes away from qualifying for Boston. That’s frustrating! But that’s life.

When I was studying to be a personal trainer, we learned how to help our clients set goals. One important factor that is often overlooked is that goals should have a 50-50 chance of being reached. You might get it, you might not. This time I did not. Call me crazy, but I think it’s good for a person to fail every once in a while. If you are always hitting your goals, I think you’re not setting good ones. You’re playing it safe, afraid to fail.

Well I failed and I failed big. But you know what? That was one of my best races in years. I shaved 45 minutes off my time from May. That’s impressive in it’s own right. My attitude was also completely different. There wasn’t a moment during the 26.2 miles in which I doubted my ability to finish or quit having fun. I enjoyed the run, which is a lot more than I can say about the last couple marathons I completed. And then there’s the fact that I’ve finished 2 marathons since having Milo, and he’s not even 1 yet. I’m proud of that accomplishment regardless of the times.

I’m okay with my failure because it doesn’t make me a failure. It was one race; there will be others. If I let one time define me and my ability to run, I would have no reason to keep lacing up my shoes and hitting the road. I believe I am only limited by my own persistence and discipline. I may not be the runner I want to be, but I’ll never get there if I don’t keep at it. Sure, there will be more obstacles. But if there is one thing I’ve learned over the last year, it’s that I have the ability to come back from anything. If I put in the work and be patient.

So what’s next for me in terms of racing? I don’t know. That’s a conversation I need to have with my coach. But today I’m supposed to go for a brisk walk and, while it doesn’t seem like much, I’m going to do it. Because each step counts. Because even a brisk walk can make me stronger. Because my failed attempt has not defeated me. And the best is yet to come.

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2 thoughts on “Failed, But Not A Failure

  1. Great attitude! I recently failed at a race goal too. While I was disappointed, there are other races in the future. You’re right it’s important to look at the overall picture and see the entire journey.

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