“SO WHERE DID YOU PLACE AT SHAMROCKS LAST WEEK?” my friend Larry asked during Wednesday night’s PR Fitness group run. He was referring to the Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K in Ann Arbor on March 10.
“Second,” I said. “The first place guy ran under 19:00. There’s a couple people in my age group who are just really fast.” I sighed. “I’ve got to get better yet.”
Larry chuckled. “Now here’s a guy who finished second,” he said, “complaining about not winning.”
And I thought, Oh, no – I’ve become that guy.
Just two years ago, all I wanted was to snag one award – just one – in any race. If someone had griped to me back then about finishing second, I would have let him know (nicely, I hope) that some of us would be more than satisfied with that, and to be thankful he was healthy and fit, and strong enough to finish in the top tier of his group.
On my 50th birthday at the 2011 Holiday Hustle, I got my first award (a Christmas ornament, which I promptly dropped). Since then I’ve placed in the top 5 of my age group regularly, even winning several times. Now here I was beefing about finishing second in a large race. Did I now have to be in the awards group to feel like I ran a good race? Or finish first to feel happy? Heaven help me if it ever comes to that.
Sure, I’m competitive by nature, and finishing in the awards group feels good. But winning a race also depends on the weather, the terrain, and who else shows up (or more accurately, who doesn’t show up). And if we’re not elite runners, who really cares about how many races we’ve won? Spouses and kids, to a point. Fellow runners, good for a high five or two. Non-runners? Fuggetaboutit.
More than anything, a race is a test of ourselves – a measure of our physical and mental fortitude, our discipline to stick out a hard run to the end. Improving as a runner, and as a human being, is really what counts. And that can come at any pace.
Last night reminded me of why I run races. Since I’m not in it for money or fame, I am free to set my own goals and to decide what “success” and “winning” mean. Isn’t that why we enjoy running – because it gives us that freedom? How blessed and fortunate we are to have that kind of opportunity. Every run, short or long, is a victory.
P.S. Now that I’m sufficiently grateful for being able to run, here’s what I got for finishing second at Shamrocks.
3 thoughts on “Every Run is a Victory”
Oh, I forgot to say – great award!!!
Nice, Jeff! I’m glad that you realized so quickly that you were “that guy” and turned it around. I do feel as though I’ve created a monster, although I know that I’m just a small part of why you are there where you are. And, I want to say, now that I’ve had to deal with plantar fasciitis, and am having shoulder problems, my gratitude for being able to run *at all* is pretty huge. All that stuff used to be stuff that OTHER people talked about. I always thought of injuries as something only people who run fast had to deal with. I was so wrong. As I’ve said before, and as I know, now, to an even greater degree, health and fitness are EVERYTHING.
Thanks! I got my inspiration from many sources, and your example was definitely part of it, and not a small part either.
BTW, I am not sure I made it clear enough, but there is a link attached to the “that guy” text. You want to see an example of someone really ungrateful for his talent, click that link.