Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In which I accidentaly get serious.....

I had a fun fluffy post all written (in my head) and then this happened. Whoops.

 I've had some time to think about my marathon results.
(I took a few days to think about how to make this less wordy, haha.)

I come from an interesting place, of being a moderately successful semi-elite level athlete in a completely different sport. I'm also a coach. Basically, I have years of competitive experiences under my belt as well as seeing it from the side of helping someone to meet their goals.

I measure competitive success in this way:
-did you put in the time and training? the effort? were your goals reasonable to begin with?
(if yes, continue. if not stop and rethink!)
-did you show up on game day ready? on time? prepared?
(again, if yes, continue)
-Did you get in there and do your best? stay focused? bring your top effort?
You did? OK, good!

In equine sports (and running) you might be prepared to "win" but so is everyone else. Just like in racing, you can only control the outcome of your day so you might as well set goals for yourself that involve personal improvement, or personal best score.
And just like in racing, there are things that we can not control. The weather, the lay of the land, the actions of others- we have no control. We can only control how we react to them. 

I remember back to a few years ago, I had a nice horse who I had qualified for Regional Championships and who happened to be a top contender that year. We arrived at the show well trained, prepared, relaxed and ready to do the very best that we could (well, I was. I can't really speak for the horse... but he's cool so I imagine he was on board)
We had a class to ride in on the day before the Championship class, just to practice and shake out any nerves that he might have. Things went great and he won handily, with a top score that would have easily won any class at that level, at any show. However, as the day went on the weather got warmer and warmer which we weren't really expecting. The horse, being a sensitive sort did not respond all that well to the heavy, humid conditions and clearly was not feeling on top form the next day, despite our efforts to keep him cool, comfortable any hydrated. (seriously- want to meet a diva? get to know a sensitive horse.) Despite his good health the next day it was still HOT- much warmer than he liked. He performed much below  his ability that day, scoring 15 points lower than his test the day before and placing very poorly in the class. It was less than ideal.
He came off this show healthy which was good, but this definitely was a day when he could not perform his best due to situations outside of my control.
(and he went on to win a nice handful of blues at a Fall show... Not to mention have a really solid career as an upper level horse, which is a story for another day.)

So. The moral of the story is. As miffed as I am about the Boston outcome I know I put in the work. I'm still healthy, in no pain and ready to challenge myself. I did have a crap day, I did not meet my goal, I make no excuses but I do believe that it was a situation outside of my control. No, I'm not back-patting myself and congratulating my winning effort (ugh) but I have moved on from giving myself shit about it.
I think that given the weather and the polar vortex training that I had my "a" goal was much too lofty for the day. Oh well! Live and learn.
(I was not raised with the "everyone is a winner just because they showed up" mentality, nor do I prescribe to that as an adult. I was raised to have the attitude and work ethic of a winner, and top prizes are a bonus. and when you don't earn one you just don't. end of story.) (and.... nothing makes me more motivated that failing to meet my goals. just ask my equestrian coach- she has seen my determination for 15 years...)

I've had a few well meaning people express genuine shock that I would ever do another marathon again but the thought of quitting never occurred to me. Except at mile 22 when I legit wrote my resignation letter to all things running- haha! I was dehydrated and get a free pass!
(but seriously, I need to write a whole damn blog about my "I quit everything" letter before I forget it. maybe tomorrow. it will be incredible.)
And yet here I am, jumping RIGHT back into the madness!!!!

And there lies the difference between endurance athletes (or Equestrians) and the rest of the world.

We do crazy things all the time.

We devote months- or shit- YEARS, of our lives to one race, one test, 6 minutes or 3 plus hours of our lives when we try to see payoff for our hard work.
Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn't.

And again, that is where it become apparent that we are different sorts of people.
Because no matter what we are still hungry for the feeling of achieving a win, a personal best, the feeling of having the hard work pay off.
And we just keep working hard, harder than most, until it happens.
So. Watch out.



  1. Hi Sara. I love your writing. I'm making it a point to catch up with you here after my kiddos are in bed. So much I can relate to here. So so much. Although I ran a race that I'm proud of, it was far from my goal. Far from what I trained for. This was discouraging. Your words here sum up so much of the spirit of the competitive marathon runner. I have much I'd want to say here if I weren't writing on the fly but I really enjoyed this. Sorry you had a disappointing race but no doubts that you'll be back out there! Also, do you remember at one point during your race (towards the end) having someone in a yellow oiselle top and red shorts come by and put a hand on your back and say "Good Job Oiselle"?? I don't know if that was you or not. It was a Oiselle runner but I think too tall to be you. She was struggling but still putting one foot in front of the other. Okay, I'll be back.

    1. Thank you! You definitely understand how I was feeling :-) You know, it might have been me that you saw- I tend to look more imposing than your average short girl because I'm pretty muscley, haha :-) I was so out of it at the end of the race that it was hard to even say thanks to nice, supportive people!

  2. P.S. Come run Grandma's marathon with me in June. We can both run that sub 3:20!

  3. I had a really fabulous comment all written on this post on my phone and of course it didn't put it on. stupid phone. stupid technology. Anyway, these are the words of a winner. Someone who is dedicated, devoted, motivated and driven to be the very best they can be. Your hard work and your words here, make me want to try a little harder, to work a little more, to reach just a little further. I love your snark, girl, but I love this post too.

    1. Thanks lady! Like I say to the kids, it's easy to be a winner but it's how you handle a bad day that shows your character and what not! (and I whine a lot- so apparently my character is that of a chronic complainer ;-))

  4. Good post. That's why I like blogging. Non runners don't get it or want to talk about it.

    1. You are so right! Non runners are like "did you win? NO!? well I don't care anymore, thanks..."
      Hahaha runners love the war stories :-)

  5. Always ask those questions - did you come prepared is my #1