Pride Cometh After a Tough Race


Immediately after the Philly marathon, I felt a bit of a letdown. I think everyone visualizes the race itself during training, and let’s face it, my race experience– and my pre-race experience – were not the stuff of training dreams. In the end, my time wasn’t even bad – not a PR by any stretch, but actually, a pretty good finish time. But the latter half of the race itself was harder than I had imagined on all my long training runs. I was bummed. I felt like my body had let me down.

(Then I headed off to the Good Dog Pub with Colby and Diva Cindi, where, during the course of 6 ½ hours, we drank, ate, drank and met up with various friends, including Phil, a/k/a pscapp, from Reading, Writing, Running & Rhythm  and promptly forgot all about my disappointment.)

By the time I wrote my recap of the race a few days later, though, my disappointment had turned to pride. First of all, I finished a marathon. You just cannot finish a freaking marathon and not feel proud. But more importantly, I had a tough race. And I could have stopped. I actually could have chosen not to start. But I didn’t. And I didn’t even slow all that much when the going got ugly, except for the waits in porta-potty lines. My running itself was still pretty strong throughout the race – the last 10 miles were slower than the first 16, but I was still running.

When I wrote in my recap that I was proud of my race, Colby immediately responded that she was so happy to see me write that. (She loves those rare moments when I stop being a masochist and jumped on that sucker like a dog on a bone). Other people commented that they had races that they were proud of, too, for specific reasons. Often, it wasn’t the race they PR’d in, although that is always a cause for celebration. But when I ask people which race they are most proud of, it usually is one that involves a story or a struggle or crazy weather or a wall or something. And I love hearing about it.

So, tell us: Which race are you most proud of, and why? Share your pain and glory! And yes, if it is one where all went well and you PR’d, we want to hear that, too. They don’t all have to be tales of adversity. Maybe you just kicked some serious ass and felt proud. We want to hear it all. Show us your pride!


39 thoughts on “Pride Cometh After a Tough Race

  1. Hmmmm I actually don’t know what race I am most proud of! DON”T MAKE ME CHOOSE FAVORITE CHILDREN! I am most proud o fa race that is yet to come. But I do love both my marathons and my Team Challenge half marathons 😀

  2. I ran* Boston this year. Was warmer than what I’d run in for months, so I felt great until my salt levels depleted and I had to stop running. I WALKED the last 5ish miles of the friggin Boston Marathon. I would have quit had it been any other race, but I would have crawled, clawed, rolled myself across the finish line to get that medal. I’ll never truly get over it and I fight with myself that I was even AT the marathon in the first place and should just be proud, right? Maybe it’s because everyone else tells me that I should just be happy that I was there? I’m competitive, so it’s hard to take a bad race, no matter where it was. I wanted to be happy, I wanted to RUN the entire thing. I was going at a PR pace, a sub 3:40, until the shit hit the fan. It was my slowest marathon of 7, but I’m most proud of it. It tears me up the most, and I’m going after redemption, that’s for sure.

    • Well, you can be proud that you were at the marathon and still bummed that you had a bad race. What you should be proud of is the grit that got you across that finish line and that bee-yoo-tee-full medal! Colby, Diva Cindi and I were cheering at the crest of Heartbreak Hill – we may have cheered you on! And dang, the weather was great for watching, but definitely on the warm side for running, given that the weeks and months leading up to it were anything but warm. You had a bad race. You’re bummed. But yet you ran Boston and are a tough cookie. So you’re proud. I get it. Totally.

    • I had almost this exact same experience (just not at Boston, I’m slow). In 2013, at the Marine Corps Marathon, I’d finally broken 4 hours. This past 2014, I hit the half at almost the same second I’d done last year, but by mile 15-18, my race was finished. I basically ran/walked the last 7(!) miles of MCM, and count it as the worst marathon experience of the 8 I’ve done. I’m still not sure what happened, except that it was unseasonably warm, but not crazy warm. It’s also an important race to me, because it was my 5th MCM, and got me exempt from the lottery, but it’s bittersweet. I’m trying to find humor in how spectacularly bad things went, but it is still baffling.

      • FACT: You had a tough race. And you may never know exactly why. It’s frustrating. Sometimes you do have to laugh it off when you become the Shleprock of the race world. It happens.
        MORE IMPORTANT FACT: You are now exempt from the MCM lottery. Of all the goals you had for that race, the exemption must have been one of the bigger ones. And you met it. Through not giving up. Pat yourself on the back. I’m jealous!! I love that race!

  3. My favorite race is not my PR race, but regionals, the race that got me to states my sophomore year of high school cross country. It isn’t the time or the placement that makes me proud, it’s the fact that during the run, I made the conscious decision to push myself beyond what I thought were my limits, and I discovered that I had something more in me. That feeling of accomplishment where I did’t talk myself out of doing 110% is something I’ve been searching for ever since. It’s hard, but I know I’ve got a lot of opportunities in my future, and each race is a new chance to try and step across the line of my limits.

    • I love every word of this and know EXACTLY what you are talking about. I feel like I hold myself back from 110%. So afraid I will burn out and not finish. That had to the the best feeling in the world. Just love this. And going all out – for an entire race – is a goal for me, too. Thanks for posting this.

  4. Great job persevering! I can definitely understand that the races you’re most proud of may be the ones that were the most difficult to overcome. I just finished my first half marathon last month and I’m proud not only of finishing the race but completing the entire training journey it took to get there. And of course, now I’m hooked and want to do more 🙂

    • Awesome! I think non-runners think that the race itself is the only hard part of racing, but you’re right – from your first day of training through the finish line, it is a whole wonderful, challenging, difficult, pride-inducing process. Congrats on the half and OF COURSE you’re hooked! 🙂

  5. My best race was my most recent Chicago marathon. Because my worst race, my most disappointing race was the marathon I ran 3 years ago. So this one was redemption for me. I put a ton of pressure on myself both times. This time I finished strong and within my goal time!

  6. My proudest and most painful run was the Heartbreak Hill Half.
    I have accepted the only way I can qualify for Boston is to keep my current pace until I hit the ripe old age of 85. I know my limits! When the chance came to run the first ever Heartbreak Hill Half -“the best part of the Boston race”- I jumped at the chance. I knew I would be running this slow (hip issues) but it’s BOSTON…YOU BET I AM GONNA RUN THIS!
    I completed my half marathon training, I was in my taper, and ready to “hit the hills”. Here is where things started going wrong. (Life lesson- taper extends to more than just cutting back on running)
    1) I had a chance to do a “boot camp” style workout the week prior to the Half. I am always up for a challenge – and the women running the class was my age (old) and in full face makeup. I can do this – I will do this. (I shouldn’t do this) To keep a long story short – the workout included “bunny jumps” – and LOTS of them. My 21 year old daughter walked out saying it was stupid. I raised a quitter – I was disappointed. I finished! FYI – Bunny jumps work the calves.
    2) My softball team needed me to catch for a game. Sure, anything for the team and it will keep me from twisting an ankle in that awful outfield! (again – calves!)

    Fast forward to the Run – It was hot (ok – I can handle some heat) and I was in this for the Boston Glory not for a PR. Around Mile 9, I start up the famous Heartbreak Hill. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a giant size ape in full running gear! Most would dismiss him; some would just slap his hand. I wanted (needed) a photo op. Here is where it goes horribly wrong.
    I saddle up to the beast, pose for the camera, I get onto my tippy toes (I’m short) ……and BAM – MY LEFT CALF FREEZES – I SCREAM – and SNAP – The moment is captured forever -and on Facebook for the world to see – and a source of laughter for years to come!
    The damn gorilla moves me to the side of the road where I rub and rub until I can walk/shuffle along. Then suddenly the right calf decides to seize. Now I am leaning on a light pole in tears. I hear someone ask if I am ok – I am in tears – I say “I don’t know what is going on – maybe I am dehydrated”. She hands me a half empty water bottle and off she goes. I down it and look up – only to see that this savior is really volunteer collecting garbage. OMG – I am going to need shots!
    I worked out the kinks in both calves and hobbled my way the 3+ miles to the finish. I FINISHED – I DIDN’T QUITE. Yeah ME!
    (PS – I figured out my calf issues – and did the Fairfield half 2 weeks later – for redemption! – No Gorilla’s gonna bring me down – no Gorilla’s gonna break my stride –Oh no – I got to keep on moving!)

  7. Right now it’s the Marine Corps Marathon! Actually, the weather and conditions were PERFECT and I didn’t complete the race with 100% flawless performance, but it’s my very first marathon and I was so proud to finish and finish reasonably well. 🙂

    • My first marathon was the MCM, too – last year. What an experience. I’ll never forget it. I still get chills thinking about it.
      It is the rare race that comes off with 100% flawless performance – especially for us weekend warriors who do these for fun, so shake that thought from your mind – STAT. You ran a great race. Congratulations.

  8. The race I’m proudest of hmmn that’s a hard one Tina but if it’s based on overcoming adversity it would have to be the Gasparilla Distance Classic half marathon of 2010. I wasn’t my fastest half marathon but I still think it was the best I’ve run to date. I was battling a major lack of confidence with my running during that period of time and to make matters worse I got to the race late (a whole post needs to be devoted to that story lol) and missed the start which meant running from behind and at the back of the pack. I spent the whole day working through people. But I felt solid and at peace. Once I knew I was at the back of the pack it was no worries

    • OK. You should be proud that you even ran the damn race after getting there late. I think I would have had a panic attack and fallen into a fetal position until rescued by the med tent. There is nothing better than feeling solid and at peace. Especially while running. THAT is something to be proud about. Now – you have one week to get together your post on why you were late. I’m dying to hear!

  9. You should be proud!
    My favourite race is my 50k. Not because of the distance, and certainly not because of the speed. Instead, it’s because it’s the only race I’ve done with no expectations and therefore no pressure. Completion was all I was after, and considering it was on trail, at night, just added to the kudos of crossing that line.

    • Throw your guess out, you Gorilla lovin’ fool! Did it involve theft of a banana? A few lost toenails and a renegade heatwave in VT? Or a battle with a trail resulting in an angry Achilles?

  10. My favorite of yours is the NYC ( and not because of my primate fetish) because you hit a wall and then hurdled your ass over it and kept going. You did this again at the Ultra too – so toss up here! But why can’t it be at the Warrior dash where you “mother goosed” it with one shoe on and one shoe off?

  11. That’s a tough one. I think that finishing any marathon when I’m undertrained ( which is always) is something that makes me proud. But, this year’s Half in Philly immediately goes to the head of the class because I didn’t run from August 7th until sometime during the first week of October. My first run back was 5 minutes. My longest training run was a single, solitary seven miler about 10 days out. So, where I found those additional 6 miles in Philadelphia is beyond me and I’m still wondering about it. Maybe there is no answer besides my determination. I knew, I just knew that I could run all 13 miles. What I didn’t know was how I was going to manage to do that. By the time I saw the finish line I felt like I could have run through a brick wall.
    In any case, you all seemed pretty recovered, relaxed and healthy when we met. Must have been that carbo-reloading that was already in progress when I arrived.

    • Oh, we know how to recover!! 🙂 I know I was proud of your race in Philly when you told us about your training (or lack thereof). I’m so glad you are too. The mind – it is such a powerful thing. Amazing what determination can do. Good job!

  12. The races I’m most proud of are the ones where I fight through the most mental battles and oddly enough those are ones where I don’t PR. Congratulations on your race and I love all of your pinterest running/biking posts!! They always motivate me.

      • She does have such great pins!!
        It makes sense that the battle races aren’t the PR races – PR races are where the stars align with your body, the weather, the course and your mental state, and the battle isn’t so obvious or daunting. And you sure feel great after both kinds of finishes, for different reason. The really tough races are like mental PR’s.

  13. I’m proudest of Boston. I trained well and was ready, but got sick the day the plane landed in Boston. I thought it was just “bad allergies,” but 2 miles into the race I had this overwhelming feeling that I just didn’t want to be there. I felt horrible. I had to keep making small goals for myself to get through the miles. I knew if I stopped at a medical tent they probably wouldn’t let me continue, but also knew if I could just get to Wellesley at the halfway point I could finish. I walked a lot, which is humiliating when every single inch of the race has screaming spectators. I felt like a failure. Running through the city was very tough. Turning the corner onto the long stretch to the finish line, however, was the most amazing feeling in the world. Turns out it wasn’t just “bad allergies,” I had bronchitis and a sinus infection. I had a tough time getting over the disappointment of that race (everyone wants to do well at Boston), and beat myself up for months afterwards (even though I couldn’t help being sick!), but I’m proudest just for pushing through and finishing the race.

    • Holy Moly, you should be proud. I had a sinus infection a few weeks ago and had a hard time carrying out the trash. You ran a freaking marathon. With bronchitis, too. You are a machine and should be incredibly proud. I so know the feeling of small goal…small goal…small goal…until you get to the finish. Distance running is such good training for life. I bet that final stretch made it all worth it. Talk about an accomplishment.

      • That race really taught me a lot, like not taking these stupid races so seriously. I felt like such a loser for months afterwards, like I didn’t “deserve” to even be in Boston because of that one bad run, and I finally realized getting to Boston is what it’s all about. If I ever qualify again, I would run it just for fun and enjoy the experience. Yeah, kind of like life!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s