This weekend I ran the Jacksonville Marine Corps Half Marathon. It was a slower time than usual - only about my 3rd fastest half marathon. Along with my vertigo, I have a condition makes my eardrums swell and my Eustachian tubes fail to equalize the pressure inside my ears, and the ear infection over a month ago triggered a bad attack of this "Eustachian tube dysfunction." But every time I have a race where the results don't meet my expectations, I have to remind myself that I am still battling multiple chronic illnesses.
Sometimes I think that racing is part of my life to remind me of what really matters: being able to use my body for physical activity and enjoy it.
Surprisingly, I was also at least in the top 60% of women in my age group and 50% overall. And let me just say that I SMOKED the last 5k. I was just a few minutes off my best 5k pace, even after having run 10 miles. That may not have shown in my final time, but it sure as hell felt GREAT. The swag for this race is ALWAYS awesome. What matters is not the time I took, but the time I HAD.
During that race, every time that I felt my body decide that it didn't want to cooperate, I thought about my legs like the roadrunner - rotating round and round effortlessly. And I imagined my mom there cheering me on. Mom has made it to most of my recent marathons and some of my triathlons, but because of her chemo, she will not be able to come to New York to see me this year. That was hard for me to handle. But there is one thing I know for sure, though: no matter where I run 26.2, or 13.1, or even 1.2 miles, she is there with me.
As I've mentioned, some major things come up that threatened to prevent me from making the trip to New York. When this possibility presented itself, I was pretty heartbroken. I have worked really, really hard on my training and you all have helped me work really, really hard on my fundraising. But the cost of caring for an ill me and two ill cats this year has really dipped into my travel funds. It took some very special people in my life to keep me on track to make the trip, which I've saved 5 years to make.
And I had to make some very hard decisions to make it happen. Decisions which I've made in the past. Decisions which I've allowed myself to feel guilty for because of other peoples' opinions of me. I realized this week that what matters is not what critics decide to think or say. What matters is having people in your life that care about you enough to support you doing what you love.
Perhaps the more important part of all of this is that we have raised $1400 for the American Cancer Society. It's not the $2,000 I hoped for, but it is something that would not change even if I couldn't make it to the actual race.
In life we all face disappointments. It is my belief that it's perfectly okay to be depressed, crazy mad, or confused immediately following the setback. Cry or pout for a few days, maybe weeks, but then the time comes to dig in and figure out a way to make something positive happen. This has been a particularly emotional training year for me. The support that I have received, both towards my racing goals and my fundraising goals, is something that I will carry with me, not just this season, but for every season I am fortunate enough to keep training and racing.
When I do eventually cross that finish line in New York, I promise to remember not whether I beat my lofty sub-5-hour goal, but that I was fortunate enough to be there to begin with.
It's not the time you took. It's the time you had.