So often when we run and/or race the end result is not always what we hope for. We tend to compare ourselves with others and often wish we could have done better. It's tricky not too fall into this trap, but if you have a competitive bone in your body it's virtually impossible to avoid it. Is this a bad, thing? Maybe not. Through several recent scenarios I've realized that it's all relative and it's important to keep this in mind.
As my teammate and I finished the Cigna 5K a few weeks ago we happened to see this guy that we both recognized, gathering his things to leave. At the start of the race, he had been hanging out with a group of incredibly fast-looking runners. As he was putting on his jeans, yes jeans, to go back to work, my teammate asked him how he did. He shrugged and said "not so good," and he explained that he had struggled in the heat. We asked if he minded sharing his time with us and he bashfully said it was a 14:53 but that he usually came in right at 14 minutes, so it just wasn't his day. Translation: instead of his typical 4:30 pace, he had slowed to a 4:48 for this race. He smiled and waved goodbye as we stood there with our jaws dropped in disbelief. His time was insanely fast to us and his ability so far above ours that we couldn't quite fathom his disappointment.
The results posted on the wall at the end of my most recent 5K showed that I was the 3rd female overall. I had also run a personal best and was thrilled with my time. But, I didn't expect to place so I was as excited about that as I was my time. The announcer began to give out awards and as I got ready to walk up for 3rd place, to my dismay and total embarrassment, he called out a different name. My heart sank. I asked the race director about it and he apologized and said there was a glitch in the registration process and some confusion with names. I was so bummed. My teammate told me that I should be more proud of my time than anything as I had achieved a long standing personal goal. But, I still wanted that 3rd place feather in my cap, and I was disappointed.
As I was running this past week-end in Martha's Vineyard I passed an older man who looked to be in his seventies. He was run/walking and cruising along at a nice, steady pace. As I circled back, we passed each other again. This time he slowed and said, "I wish I could still do that." I smiled and told him he looked great, though I'm sure that didn't help much. He clearly saw a glance of his past as a runner and though his desire is there, he's no longer capable of carrying himself as he once did.
Regardless of our level as runners, all three of us experienced the same tinge of disappointment. It simply hadn't gone the way we wanted it to, or the way it used to go. And that's okay. Because all three of us will most likely get out there and do it again. Do we need to dwell on it? No. But, in the little picture, we can have that moment of despair and then hopefully move on. We also need to realize, however, that it's all relative. If we look at it in the bigger picture, what we did that day, to us might have been average at best, but to so many others it was monumental. And, this, too, helps us continue to get out there and do what we love to do. In my opinion, we need and should take both pictures.
Listen to this:
Forever - Youngblood Hawke