Yesterday I ran (ok, jogged) the St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis, Tennessee. Now, I am a VERY slow jogger, so I had no illusions of finishing fast and strong. But I was horrified with my finishing time of 3:42. All of my training times indicated I would finish in about 3:15 (still slow, of course).
I have no idea why I finished in 3:42 and I’ve spent the weekend processing and coming up with excuses for my poor performance.
Excuse #1: I didn’t train on hills because the course is billed as being flat and fast. There were hills.
Excuse #2: After mile 9 a police officer assigned to an intersection stopped participants to let a convoy of cars cross the intersection. I know we were on hold for at least a minute, and I never got back into my rhythm after having to stop.
Excuse #3: Three potty breaks that probably totaled a whopping 1.5 minutes.
After wasting precious hours processing and making excuses, I’m now at a place where I can simply enjoy my accomplishment. I have two very special friends to thank for this. My friend JoAnn traveled to Memphis with me and we stayed with our mutual friend, Becky. JoAnn and Becky participated in the Memphis Grizzlies 5K and hung around afterward to cheer me on. I saw them at mile three where JoAnn eagerly snapped a few photos as I went by. And they were right there at the finish line, JoAnn with camera in hand.
I’ve never seen two friends appear so proud of another. Both of them commented on how I was able to walk and form complete sentences after having just run 13.1 miles. Both gave me wonderful hugs and seemed unconcerned about my sweaty smelliness. And both of them admired my finishers medal and told me I was awesome.
Had I participated in the half-marathon without my friends’ support, I might have missed receiving a wonderful gift. I was allowed to see my accomplishment through their eyes rather than through my own negative filter. Their perspective on what I had just done will carry me through the training for my next half-marathon. For that I am grateful.