Earlier today, I raced the Xterra Brandywine 12k. I finished 2nd overall female by a mere 40 seconds after leading for approximately 6.5 of the 7.3 mile race. Should I be upset? Maybe. Should I be mad at myself? Perhaps. But… I’m not upset. I’m not mad. It’s not a loss to me. I ran 46 seconds faster than last year on the exact same course in similar weather conditions.
I didn’t finish as the 2nd overall female because I ran slower than last year. My solitary goal going into the race was to improve my 01:06:36 finish from last year. Any other accomplishments throughout the race would just be an added bonus. I ran 01:05:50, finishing 16th overall out of a field of 110 (last year I was 44th out of 165). If that’s not something to be happy about then I don’t know what is.
What I’m trying to say is that not all “losses” are actually a loss. The woman that finished the last 3/4 of a mile faster than me might think I didn’t pace myself throughout the race or that I’m just “a young girl still learning how to finish a race in its entirety”. Truth is, that’s not me.
I knew what I was doing throughout that entire race:
I ran the 1st mile in 7:33 because I knew that any time I could gain on the downhill/flat section would be time pocketed for the gruesome climbs to come.
I didn’t power hike the climbs because I knew that the faster I could keep stepping forward, the sooner I would get to the next downhill.
I passed the men in front of me confidently and without hesitation because I was racing against them too.
I didn’t hesitate at the stream crossing because I knew that a moment of hesitation wasn’t going to resolve the issue of crossing the stream without getting my feet wet.
I didn’t flinch bombing down the rockiest downhill of the course because I’ve ran down that hill hundreds of times; I knew the best lines to take.
I didn’t try to navigate carefully around the muddy sections because I knew the quickest line was straight through them.
I ran the fielded, non-technical sections of the course with all the energy I had left because I knew there wasn’t much further to go.
I finished 46 seconds faster than last year because of all of these decisions, all of these moments, all of these intrinsic race instincts.
Races are just like life: if you try your hardest every single day to accomplish your goals, you will achieve success. Nobody can take away your successes. Nobody can diminish your accomplishments because their accomplishments seem “bigger” or “better”.
If you take initiative, if you take your goals into your own hands, if you make decisions to better yourself, than you are on your way to your own personal win – and sometimes that can be the best way to lose.