The last time I ran a personal best (PB) in the 1500m was on May 17, 2013. My time of 4:04.65 stood for 1114 days, until last Saturday when I ran 4:03.97. There were other PBs in the meantime: over 5000m and over a mile, but this one holds a special significance for me. The 1500m is my specialty and so it is the event where all my effort is focused, and where I most value improvement.
Over the past three years, I have approached almost all my races with a time goal in mind- specifically, aiming for a PB. I always felt capable of it but the fast time alluded me. My obsession with running fast blinded me from other successful aspects of my performances and prevented me from fully enjoying racing and the preparation involved. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, letting go of this goal (and all my other goals) set me free from a lot of heartache.
While my goals have been removed from their pedestal, I continue in this sport. My training has been going very well, and knowing myself, I am without a doubt fitter now than ever before. So after running to my limit a couple weeks ago at Hoka One One/"Oxy" and clocking another 4:08.93 of the season, I was admittedly disappointed. Not crushed, not tearful, but truly disappointed. Although it was not a perfectly executed race, I crossed the line having left everything on the track that night. I had to accept it and move forward.
The recent disappointment of Oxy stirred up many more memories of disappointment and made me feel resigned to it. (My nature is somewhat pessimistic... shocking, I know). So leading up to the Furman Elite 1500m, it was difficult to be hopeful. But I recognized this attitude as wrong and not reflective of the Lord's character - because God is good, there is no reason to expect to be disappointed. The only appropriate time to accept disappointment is IF you’ve actually encountered it, and then move on.
A few years ago, when I was struggling with low self-confidence, my sport psych had me list things I did successfully every day. This discipline taught me to be on the lookout for anything I did well and record it. So last week I began a new daily list recording God’s goodness, aiming to train my mind to think correctly about Him. I spend time thinking about every way He is good to me, and of course there is always too much to write down. My radar is out to detect, appreciate and give thanks for every good thing that happens.
As race day approached, I told myself again and again that it would be a good experience. I set no time objectives or expectations, but instead established two goals which I had failed to execute at Oxy:
1) get a good start (position myself in the front half of the pack)
2) pass at least 1 person in the final 100m
Goal 1 was accomplished immediately, and by the time I entered the final 100m only one competitor was ahead of me. Down the homestretch the furthest thing on my mind was the clock. It was all goal #2: “I have to pass her… I don’t know if I can… keep trying!…I need to pass 1 person!… keep trying!” And in the end, she crossed the line first, winning by 3 hundredths of a second. It didn’t matter. When the announcer said 4:03 I cried.
On Saturday, everything went right. A few hours pre-race, the skies opened up in torrential but brief downpour and the temperature dropped from an oppressively hot 33C to a balmy 26C. The night was absolutely still - not even a whisper of a breeze. The rabbit set an even, fast pace, and the whole group followed her closely. Having someone to chase down in the final sprint helped me dip - just barely - into the 4:03s. None of these details can be taken for granted and not one of them was lost on me. A perfect race setup in ideal weather is a rare opportunity and I thank the Lord for allowing me to be part of it. He brought me to the start line healthy and prepared in body and mind and spirit, and gave me something I wanted very much, a new PB.