To say I’m disappointed in my result from the Sporting Life 10K is the understatement of 2013. Not only did I not achieve the personal best I was hoping for, I actually almost achieved a personal worst for a 10km race. I added more than 4 minutes onto last year’s time in a race that I was confident I would absolutely crush.
So what happened?
On Friday, I woke up with a cold. A dry hacking cough, fever and sinus congestion. I hoped I would be better by Sunday, but I think I was actually worse. I’m competitive with myself, and I had a goal. So I decided running with this cold was better than not running at all.
I decided I would set out at race pace and see how I felt. If I had to pull back, I would. I burst out of the gates with 27,000 runners, ready to give it my all. After 1 kilometre, I knew there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to maintain my pace. I could barely breathe and had a painful side stitch. I ran as fast as I could maintain. I kept trying to tell myself that it was OK to go slower. After all, I was only competing against myself. But I kept pushing and every time my Nike+ app chimed in to remind me of my sub-par average pace, I felt increasingly more disappointed. Any chance of getting a sub-50 time was completely out of reach.
I finished the race with a time of 54:04.
I suppose I should be pleased that I finished the race at all given the conditions. Not only was I sick, but it was freezing cold and there was a fairly strong headwind the entire race, making the run that much more challenging.
But I felt crushed. Totally defeated.
I didn’t take any post race pictures like I normally would. I saw lots of people I knew running the race, but I didn’t stick around to talk. I just grabbed my bag and left. I didn’t think I could listen to conversations about great times and personal bests without bursting into tears. I felt like a big failure so I went home and spent the rest of the day moping and generally feeling bad – both physically and emotionally.
I guess I just got used to a track record of continual improvement. If you look at my races from the past year, I’ve either improved my time on repeat races, or achieved a new distance. There was always something to be proud of at the end. I’ve never been unable to attain my goal.
This race was a good lesson for me. For one, I need to learn not to be such a poor sport. Just because I didn’t succeed doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to be happy for other people’s triumphs. And secondly, I need to stop being so hard on myself. A year ago, a time of 54 minutes in 10km would have been something remarkable. Thinking back even further, I can remember when simply running 10km continuously without stopping was a huge achievement.
Also, this race isn’t all about me or my silly goal. The Sporting Life 10K helps raise heaps of money for kids living with cancer. Just participating in the race helps Camp Oochigeas, a fantastic organization that provides camp experiences for Ontario children and teens living with cancer. That’s something to feel good about.
There will be other races and other achievements in the future. Having a goal is great, but it’s not all about the number at the end.