It has been a few weeks now since I ran my half marathon in San Francisco. Remember it was a half that I ran with a group of friends and family to honor and raise money for the fallen 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew from Prescott, AZ and all others that have given the ultimate sacrifice while on duty. Remember I was worried about my run. I was worried about my performance. I was worried about my finish time. Despite my best efforts to think otherwise, I had convinced myself that in order to succeed at this run (or any run for that matter), I had to not only finish, but set a new personal best in time.
So did I succeed? Well, it was a new time record for me: the slowest half marathon I have ever run. Yep, the slowest. As I crossed the finish line, I wondered. I wondered if the time I was looking at meant I had failed. I wondered if the fact that I felt more pain than I had ever felt at the end of a run meant I had failed. I wondered if all this pride and self-centered thinking meant I had failed. After all, this run wasn’t about me; this run was about bringing honor to the memory of the 19 firefighters who had died in that fire. So I wondered some more.
Had I succeeded? I had trained for the race. I showed up for the race. I ran. I finished. In those aspects I had succeeded. I had my husband and two babies at the finish line to hug me. That made it feel a little more like success. Now, what about the more important point of bringing honor to the memory of those firefighters? I guess I could say that by training, showing up, raising money, running, and finishing, I had achieved success. After so much wondering, I was starting to feel quite hungry. It wasn’t until after grabbing some food, packing the car and heading home that I finally started to relax and consider my morning a success instead of something less, or even that ugly “f” word.
Success isn’t always about the fastest, the shiniest, the newest, the biggest or any “-est”. It certainly isn’t always about winning. That day, success meant I had committed, run in the face of my fears, self-doubt and pain. That day, success meant I had finished. On the car ride home, as I watched the passing hills, my husband grabbed my hand and told me he was proud of me. Success. Then he asked a question that got me wondering all over again. He asked, “I wonder why all of you didn’t run the whole race together? Why didn’t your whole Granite Mountain team plan to stick together, running all 13.1 miles as one group, as a team, with the fastest runner encouraging the slowest runner?” Well, s***. That would have been a perfect way to honor those 19 firefighters who fought as a team and died as a team.
So I wondered…