“It is all about the journey. Without a doubt, when I embrace this philosophy, everything gets infinitely more enjoyable, and not just running, but everything.”
I never used to view myself as competitive…that was until I started competing in races. The more I think about it though, the more I realize I’ve always been competitive, but I didn’t see it that way because I wasn’t so much competitive with others, but more so with myself. Once I started entering into running races, for fun mind you, not as a career, I became laser focused on my time and getting to a PR – Personal Record.
I’ve done a handful of half-marathons and two full marathons. While I have certainly had some fun along the way, I can safely say the majority of them were lacking the fun factor because I was all consumed with my time and running the best race. If I was getting paid for my efforts, then maybe I could argue this reasoning. If it’s not fun, then what’s the point, right? Now, if I’m running 26.2 miles, then I definitely am not anticipating every mile will be fun, because at the end, it just isn’t.
However, I allowed myself to care more about how I finished, then allowing myself to enjoy the miles along the way. It is not about the destination. It is all about the journey. Without a doubt, when I embrace this philosophy, everything gets infinitely more enjoyable, and not just running, but everything.
Back in September, my friends and I signed up for a half marathon in Zion National Park. A friend had done it the year before and coerced, I mean convinced a handful of us that it would be a fun destination race. He said it was mainly downhill, which would make for a fast course, and being that the race wasn’t until April, we would have plenty of time to train.
Well, yes, in theory, I did have plenty of time to train. I did run weekly, but to say I trained would be a lie. By the time race day came around, I was nowhere near “race ready,” but I knew I could safely run 13.1 miles without injuring myself. The me three years ago would’ve cringed at this notion.
“At every hill we came to, we looked at one another and laughed. What could we do at this point? There were a few choices, we could be miserable and complain about every mud-filled step, or we could laugh it off and have fun, or I suppose we could have called it quits all together, but that was never really an option.”
Luckily for me, my dear friend and trusted running buddy, was on the same page as me for race day. We decided we would walk when we needed to, take it at an easy pace, and just have fun. The April 1 race day seemed like the perfect date, since the setting overall was gearing up to be the ultimate April Fools joke.
I’m a Southern California girl now. I run by the ocean, and cold for me is 60 degrees. I know, it’s an altered reality. So, when the race gun went off and it was a very chilly 33 degrees, with a light snow falling from the sky, I began to laugh. If that was all that happened, it would have been funny, but what ensued was comical. It had rained the day prior to the race, which means what was once dirt became thick, deep, oozing mud. The first mile of the race was a mud slop. Oh, and the “it’s mostly downhill” was another April Fool’s joke.
There were a few choices, we could be miserable and complain about every mud-filled step, or we could laugh it off and have fun, or I suppose we could have called it quits all together, but that was never really an option.
As I’m sure you can guess, I chose to have fun, and that made all the difference. It was the slowest race I have ever run. We walked some, we ran some, and we laughed all the way through. Our friends were waiting for us at the finish line, because well, we were really slow. We looked at them and asked how their race was, and my friend who had trained really hard for the race was pissed…at the circumstances (the mud, the weather, the course logistics) and at his time. Because of the circumstances, it wasn’t the race he had trained for or hoped to have, and he was miserable. My friend and I looked at one another and again, we smiled, because we had the best time.
Now, not every race is going to be that way, because I will train harder and I will care more, but in this instance, my not caring served me very well. I made a choice that I was going to have fun, despite the fact that I couldn’t feel my toes or my nose. So, on paper, it was the worst race I have ever run, but in truth it was the best race I have ever had. Not everything goes as planned, and the more you can look for the silver lining, then the more fun you are going to have. In the end, isn’t that what it’s all about? It’s not the actual destination that’s fun, because that’s a fleeting moment. It’s the journey, because that’s what lasts, and that is where the memories are made.