There's so much swirling around these days--so much devastation, so much news. It's unrelenting. It's overwhelming, but it forces each of us to refocus. If we took everything into ourselves, we would not be able to get up in the morning, we wouldn't be able to be productive.
We wouldn't be able to do good in the world. Which is what we need to do, in our families, in our communities. In ourselves.
I ran the Army ten-miler last Sunday. It was my third ATM, my first long race in about a year. I've been training since June; I thought I was ready. I went into it really confident that I would do at least as good as last year--which seems to be my consistent time--if not better, despite the rumors of the thick humidity in the air and the high temps. I'd survived Airborne School and Basic Training in summer humidity. Been there, done that.
Boy, I was wrong.
I barely made it through the ATM. At mile 6, I almost vomited, literally. I think I was on the verge of becoming a heat casualty. So I walk/jogged the last four miles. At the following water stops, I took 3 cups with me: drank one immediately, drank a second slow, and then carried the third through to the next water stop. My goal: not be one of those people hooked to an IV on the side of the road (there were a few I passed). Completion became the key.
Here's the honest truth about long runs, about publishing, about life, and the thing that keeps getting drilled into my thick skull: you are running your own race. Others are around you to cheer you on, and by golly, take the love. God is with you with all his blessings, and pray your hardest. You can pace off of someone, but you will find out soon enough that they will speed up and crawl, they'll dart around to get where they need to be. You'll also (and should) help others. I didn't realize I had a soldier (a woman out of uniform--she was in her unit t-shirt) pacing off of me, and when I slowed down in mile 8, a time when I really wanted to quit, she looked at me straight in the eyes and said, "Don't stop now. I've been following you this whole time."
Ultimately, they can't run your race, and you can't run theirs. Neither can success be interchangeable, because your definition of success may not be the same as theirs. At times, breaking one's personal record is the measure. Times like last Sunday, getting to the finish line on my own feet and not in the injury-wagon was the week's prize.
Will I schedule another long race? Yes. Pending no injuries (I'm recovering from what I think is a foot sprain), I'd love to do another race in the spring. Because that's what we have to do as well. Get back up. Head back to train. Practice. Race.