When I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2010, "Run your own race," was my mantra. I had run Philly twice before in 2005 and 2006, and both times I started out way to fast, desperate not to lose ground and have people pass me. I ran the first 10 miles at a 7:30 pace, way faster than my goal pace of 8:30. I didn't want to stop and walk during water breaks, so I only managed to get a few sips of Gatorade in my system. By mile 20 I was struggling, and the six miles left to go seemed virtually impossible. I ended up walking a lot of it, even feeling light headed and a little out of it. I finished in 4:26 in 2005 and 4:07 in 2006, missing qualifying for Boston by more than 20 minutes. The worst part was, I felt absolutely awful and worried that I'd be able to make the walk to the car.
In 2010 I was determined not to make the same mistakes again. I was older and wiser. I wanted to force myself to start out more slowly in hopes that it would leave me with some steam at the end of the race and help me to finish more quickly overall. It was harder than I thought it would be. I felt like a little kid with an ice cream sundae as big as my head desperately trying to refrain from digging in.
Recently, this mantra has been popping into my head a lot. Between Facebook and Twitter we are constantly reminded of what everyone else is doing... who is having kids, who is getting married, who just bought a house, who is going on an exotic vacation, who just got promoted, who just had a book published. It seems increasingly difficult not to compare yourself with other people, and even harder not to feel like you're falling behind. Sometimes it feels like everyone else is doing bigger or better things and you're just gasping for breath trying to hold a steady pace.
At these points I've been trying to remind myself to run my own race. That God has a plan and things will happen when they're meant to happen and not a moment sooner. That it's OK to take your time and enjoy the view. That life doesn't have to be rushed through, and that in the race of life (yes, I just seriously wrote that) there are no points for finishing first. It's more important to have the best experience overall.
For the sake of this post, I wish I could say that my, "Run your own race," mantra worked perfectly in 2010 and that I easily broke the 4 hour barrier. Instead I finished in 4:15. I felt great though, and had no problem walking to the car afterward. I also had a heck of a lot more fun. Maybe there's something to that.