A couple of days have passed since the 2014 Dam To Dam. Normally I wouldn't post about a race in particular but the Striders and our members are fully invested in this race that just celebrated it's 35th installment. It is a Central Iowa staple that we are very proud to be a part of.
Personally, I've run the Dam to Dam 9 times (either the 5k or the 20k). It is one of my favorite races every year. I've run in a lot of races, but there are very few races that I can stand at the start line and look 13 miles away and see the finish line. It is amazing.
Although it is an early season race, this is some people's 'A' race every year. We run our 'B' & 'C' in preparation and to assess our fitness level. We hydrate and carbo-load the night before with the expectation of a PR. We got on the bus to head out to the Dam with the expectation of running comfortable and fast...but like with life, sometimes things just fall apart.
I posted on our clubs Facebook page on Saturday morning that I wasn't running this year as my family is expecting a new member any day. I put on the post that the weather appeared that it was going to be nice day to run fast.
Shortly after 11:00 I started getting that little red indicator on my FB page that people were liking or commenting on my post. Not until then did I realize how wrong I was:
The comments kept coming throughout the day(s) following the race. I was getting PM's and emails from everyone and I just got sad. Sad for the people that have put in so much effort to train for THIS race. This was the race that they were going to show friends and family why they were putting in long runs on the weekends. I got sad because I knew exactly what people were going through.
In 2007, I was going to be running my very first and what I thought was going to be my only marathon in Chicago. By the time the race came around I had been running for about 3 years. I took my time in preparing for the race. I read. I became a student of the sport. I did everything I could to prepare mentally and physically for this race. I've obviously never run a marathon before so I didn't know what to expect, but I expected to run fast.
In the days leading up to the 2007 Chicago Marathon the weather kept saying, HOT HOT HOT! We were warned before the race to hydrate and to slow down. I heeded the advice and drank well the night before. I lined up in my corral with the expectation of a sub-4 marathon. I knew I was capable of it. I won't go into all of the details as many of you have heard about this race but I was forced to "stop" at mile 21 and told to walk back to the finish line while cutting through the streets of Chicago. My expectations were shot. I was bummed. People kept saying "Oh, it's OK" but it wasn't. I didn't want to hear that "It was OK". I wanted to be able to carry around my medal and tell people that I ran a marathon. I threw myself a pity party for days, but it took someone who is a lot wiser than me (my wife) to make me realize I did what I could on the day and that I lived another day to do it again. That changed my outlook a lot on this sport.
Running is a sport and just like all sports things rarely happen the way they should (just ask Cubs fans :) ). Michael Jordan is arguably the best basketball player to have ever stepped foot on a court. Many of you have heard/seen this quote, but I think it's fitting in this instance:
I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
Since that day in in 2007, I've run marathons (both racing and as training) and I've run 5 ultras. I've run great races and I've DNF'd. I go into each race with the expectation of running my best race, but I do what I can on the day.
Many of you were going into the 2014 Dam To Dam expecting to run the race of lifetime. You were expecting to run a PR. You weren't expecting to end up in a medical tent. You weren't expecting to run 20, 30, 60 minutes slower than you did. Rest assured though that you will live to run this event and more events again. You set an expectation for yourself and it didn't work out. Sulk for a few days and just remind yourself that on May 31, 2014, you gave the race what you could. DNF doesn't mean "Did Not Finish". It means "Did Nothing Fatal". Get back out there and keep training. Keep setting goals. Keep taking the shots and one of these days that ball will fall threw the net. You can do it, you just have to keep believing in yourself.
Stay Strong, Run Long