Last summer I ran in the Rock n' Roll Seattle half marathon. It was the biggest race I had ever been a part of - 30,000+ people! When I signed up I had to give my estimated pace/finish time so that they could put me into a specific corral. I was about 5 months post-baby and hadn't trained much, but decided to write down the time I'd done in my first half, just to push myself. Well, race morning was crazy. I had to walk/jog about two miles to get to the start line and then stood in an eternal line of people for the Honey Bucket (that's NW speak for port-a-potty). I saw the sea of runners moving as I stood in that line and thought, "Oh well, I'll miss my corral. It probably doesn't matter much anyway."
Well, I finished my business, ran to the start line, and saw that my corral would be the next group through...I'd made it after all! I climbed a little gate while a man yelled at me because I wasn't supposed to do that and grouped myself with my people - the people who said that they could finish a half in 2 hours and 10 minutes. Turns out my decision to be ambitious about my time was mostly a good one; I ran much faster than I would have because the people around me were running at a good pace. So even though I was struggling a bit, I kept running because slowing down would slow others down to get around me (the course was packed).
Then we got to the last mile and I was done. That's a problem when you still have a mile left. Darn me for not training more! I was so frustrated. I just couldn't get a good, sustainable pace. And when I stopped my legs would severely cramp. Stopping was no good, running was no good. It was rough. But no matter how fast or slow, I was still surrounded by people who were inspiring me to give a little more. I also saw others who were struggling like me. I said to a few runners, "Oh my gosh, when is this thing going to be over?!" "WHERE is the freaking finish line?!" I wanted someone to commiserate with; misery loves company. It felt like that last mile was really 2 or 3, but then I heard the crowd of people at the finish line which gave me the boost I needed. I was in tears and in pain. But finish I did...7 minutes behind my projected time, mostly because of that final, excruciating mile.
We are never really alone in life. We are surrounded by millions of people who are moving in the same direction...to the ultimate finish line. I think it is so important who we surround ourselves with. I think it's important to have friends and acquaintances who inspire us to be our best. I think it's important to take our eyes off of the finish sometimes and see who might be struggling so that we can help. I think it's important to set our sights high, to put ourselves in an ambitious corral, because often we can do more than we think. However, if I had put myself in a corral with people projected to finish an hour faster than I thought I could, I would have been discouraged and depressed the entire race. So we should also know our limitations in certain areas and be comfortable with them. I think it's important to be proud of your efforts even when you fall short; it took me several weeks to be okay that I finished so much slower than I'd wanted to...I wish that I hadn't wasted that time. My best is good enough, and my best is different in different times and different situations.
Fab Forum Friday Question:
What have you learned from times in your life when you've been placed in, or chosen to be in, an ambitious "corral"?