This Saturday marked the longest run of my marathon training so far: ten miles. From here on out, most long runs build on each other with the exception of a few “shorter” (7-8 mile) runs.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post explaining how my goals for this upcoming marathon are to pace myself well and to enjoy the race. Hence, when I printed off the marathon training plan for my boyfriend and myself, I also added notes about the target pace for each run.
We are expected to run anywhere from 8:00 miles to 9:00 miles for long runs.
Saturday’s run was perfect. We had great conversations, ran at a very comfortable pace, enjoyed the beauty of a new trail, and timed the run perfectly to avoid the long train on the tracks we had to pass.
We walked a little bit after the run to loosen up our legs. “We went about 8:40 pace. Just right!” he said.
My mouth opened wide, and I said, “What!? 8:40?”
Here is where I learn something about myself. You see, he had thought the pace was just right because it was within the range for our target pace. Even though I was the one who set the target pace, I was disappointed with what the watch showed.
I set the target pace based on my goal to enjoy the run and maintain a consistent, comfortable pace throughout, yet I am clearly far from accepting that goal.
Despite feeling great and enjoying the run, I let my competitive nature overrule.
I realized that this doesn’t only happen in running: I often allow myself to prioritize winning and accomplishment over enjoyment and completion. And this scares me.
Perhaps being the best isn’t always necessary. (Actually, I know this is true because I am hardly ever (if ever) the best.) Instead, embracing the moments that these opportunities provide is the real reward.
I may still cringe at the thought of running at 8:40 pace, but when I imagine the fun I had before knowing my average pace, I forget the numbers and remember the moments.
Sometimes society tells us that we need to be the best, that competition is life. Sometimes we listen. And sometimes we grow. We learn that life is so much more than accomplishments. Sometimes life is about the moments–the conversations, the laughing, the crying, and everything else in between.