Every Race Is A Learning Experience.

Written by Stephanie Davies, 2015 Berkeley Half Marathon Ambassador
Stephanie Davies is a 46 year old mother of three who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.  A runner for 29 years, Stephanie brings experience and unwavering passion to the sport of running. Stephanie is deeply rooted in the running community through various ambassadorship programs which include The Berkeley Half Marathon and the San Francisco Marathon.   Stephanie’s involvement in her community includes the creation of a women’s running group entitled We RUN the Bay, volunteer coaching through the American Heart Association, and involvement with local race promotion.

How does one inspire others when one has just failed? How does one move others to do something that is superhuman when one has just fell short of all realistic goals? I am not sure. I just know that if one is going to inspire others one has to believe in oneself.

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(photo: Mile 20+ of Revel Canyon – battling illness and very sore muscles after running down 5% grade – 5k loss with a 2k gain in the second half)

Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe that all of the training you have just put into the training cycle will get you to the finish line? Do you believe that you will finish on your own two feet? This is not your average feel good, you-can-do-it, you’re a big boy/girl speech. We have heard those, read those, felt all of those monologues, before. This is a speech, a blog post, a message that will light a fire under your bottom. This is a message that will get you moving and make you realize that all of the weeks of training you have just gone through are worth it. You can do this. You can make it to the finish line. There are so many of us out there who are fighting different battles and this race is symbolic to all of us in some way, shape, or form. Are you going to let this race defeat you, or are you going to defeat this race?

A week ago, I ran down a mountain that I thought would give me a Personal Record (PR) and quite possibly a Boston Qualifier (BQ). I saw all of the signs that told me that I could do this. My training runs were spot on. I am trained for a 3:50 full marathon finish. What happened a week ago is not what I trained for. I did not train to run a marathon ill. I did not train for a 2k+ gain in elevation after a 5K+ elevation loss on a 5% grade. This gain was a surprise to many of us and was not expected after studying the course for months. This information was not part of the website and was an unpleasant surprise. The majority of the marathon pack fell apart at mile 16, our nemesis mile that day. Missing the mark after all of my hard training left me derailed. Did I let that race defeat me?

I am not a proud person. I am not boastful. However, I know when I am within range of an attainable goal. I have to ask this question. What if you don’t make your mark? What if you don’t achieve your goal? Are you going to give up? Are you going to get angry and never return to this sport that we all love and are so passionate about? The answer is, no. Why? Because you are not a quitter. You believe in yourself. You know what you are capable of and there is nothing in this world that will stop you from achieving the goals that you have set out to achieve. Whether you are aiming for an elite finish time or finish before the sweeper/sag wagon, your goals are important. I am not a quitter. I am not going to walk off the course angry. I am going to lace up over and over, multiple times, to achieve my goal. I am going to run. I am going to run with you.

Every race is a learning experience. When one sees that each and every race can teach something about oneself, then one can understand the spirit of running. There are so many parallels to life that are also visible in the training for an endurance event. A human is tested constantly when in training as they are in life. Virtues such as Patience, Acceptance, Accountability, Devotion and Ambition are common in marathon runners and successful individuals. In conjunction, virtues such as Forbearance, Humor, Magnanimity and Persistence keep one focused on the original goal, whatever that may be. Do you have the ability to listen to the lessons that your body has to teach you? Will you be able to accept your results with humility? Will you be able to laugh at yourself and use your experience as a training tool for the future?

Tell me that you will. Tell me that when you lay your head down on the evening after the race you will know that you have come out of that race a stronger, more knowledgeable person than when you toed the line that morning. Tell me that you won’t beat yourself up and that you will accept your results based on what you were given at that moment. Tell me that you believe in yourself. I will be running next to you telling you that I believe in you. Half the battle is knowing that it is true.

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