Runners know that a personal best is when you run a distance faster then ever before. A personal best is the goal of most runners as they line up at the start, because, let’s be honest, not many of us are going to win the marathons and half marathons we race. But we can challenge ourselves to better our times. Using this as a gauge we can see results. Who doesn’t love to see concrete results! Most of us have also experienced the highs of achieving a personal best and the lows of just missing it, despite our training, and allowed these highs and lows dictate our emotions, how we felt about our abilities and ourselves.
Yesterday I ran the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Philly. A friend and I planned to race together, but at the start it just didn’t feel right. I had prepared myself mentally and was determined to run with her, but my body was screaming NO! My friend was at the top of her game and feeling great. We both tried to convince ourselves we could do it together, but ultimately decided to run our own races. What a tremendous decision. My friend ran a personal best; in fact she blew her old record out of the water. YAY!!!!
I on the other hand, redefined personal best during my race. I have “improved” my running over the last few years, running a sub 4-hour marathon and sub 2-hour halves. However, yesterday, for the first time, I was able to run a race and not beat myself up over my pace, not worry about what others would say or think. Near the finish we passed a friend who was cheering. He commented, “Did you finish and come back around again?” I was able to simply say “nope,” without fear of judgment and without making excuses. I was ok with my race. I knew I was listening to what I needed in that moment. I often push my body to the limits, and yesterday I decided to let go. In doing so, I ran what I consider to be my personal best with a time of 2:51:14, my slowest half. I had the best race ever! I listened to the crowds, I ran with great company, and I smiled – a lot.
This doesn’t mean I’ve given up on improving my running times. There is place for setting goals and working to achieve them. However, it will be done from a place of enjoyment, and it will not define me as a runner or a person. “Success isn’t how far you got, but the distances you traveled from where you started.”