As runners we should not ever be afraid of losing. Our goal should be to give our heart and soul so that when we walk away we feel satisfied that we tried our best. The intensity that burns within our hearts is a flame that should never cease until we cross the finish line. The key to achieving our goals is not physical ability or conditioning but instead it is confidence and mental strength. I claim to have this confidence yet it was challenged as Sunday May 5 the day of the Broad Street 10 miler approached. What laid before me was a race in which my performance would be judged not only by me but also by my friends, family, and co-workers. This pressure that I felt may have been real or imagined but indeed it was pressure. Though I recognize that there are many variables that could dictate the outcome of a race it can be quite difficult to plan accordingly and accept anything other than a time equivalent to a past run or a personal best. The challenge was not the race itself but instead the challenge was finding my way to the start line to face the perceived judgment of my peers.
In an endurance event such as a marathon or ultra there is a buffer zone that allows for a sub-par performance. The perception of being judged by others is not quite as intense mainly because the sport is not main-stream or understood by most people. That being said there are no expectations and success is not defined by how long it took to finish but instead it is defined by a finish only. This type of relaxed environment devoid of unnecessary pressure is why I participate in endurance events. However, I can not allow comfort to dictate the events in which I choose to participate. A challenge, by my definition, is something that produces discomfort and must be faced head on.
On May 5, 2008 I stood at the start line on North Broad Street without a fear in the world. The challenge of getting there had been met and now it was time to run. I thrive in this type of venue for it is where I feel most confident. I recognize that despite the different walks of life each of the other participants was there for the same purpose as I. I stood there and I smiled because I knew that in the end each of us would walk away with a new experience. Though I’m a fierce competitor I recognize that an event such as this is not about running fast or doing well but instead it is about being there. Just being out there to make an attempt, to give an honest effort, to join the masses in doing something healthy is what this is all about.
My only regret in running the way that I do is that I miss so much. Though I’d like to be my talent is not such that I’m a front-runner in fact I'm probably closer to the mid-pack but I run with the intensity that I’m in the lead. It is because of this style of running that I miss talking with the people, I miss soaking in the atmosphere and I miss the excitement of the crowd. When in an event such as this I focus so hard on each and every step while calculating my next move that I zone out everything else around me. This gives me the ability to produce positive thoughts which in turn puts me at ease and allows me to run effectively. I’m not a front runner, I’m not going to win but it’s important to me that I try my best.
I will admit that as in every race there are times when my mind strays and I scramble to maintain positive thoughts. The key to any successes that I have ever had is recognizing my thought process and reigning back in to where I am most comfortable. Broad Street was no different. I recognized early on that my race would not be my best so to maintain a positive outlook I quickly reevaluated and changed my goals. Though I set my goals high a willingness to reevaluate each goal as the race progresses allows me to stay positive and ultimately perform at a higher level.
Broad Street is an easy race but the easiness of the course can tax the mind if not focused properly. I suffered twice but recovered quickly and finished the race with a respectable time. I walked away from the finish line feeling satisfied that I overcame a challenge whether real or fabricated in my own mind. My world will always be broad because I am not afraid to give anything a try.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom! She is a very supportive person and someone who I love dearly. She is a very special lady.