The worst had already happened to me.  I know what it feels like to have come in dead last.  After that, I told myself that that would never … NEVER … happen to me again.  I seriously believed that I did not ever want to run again.  I was done.  My pride took a big hit, and I couldn’t see myself swallowing it so soon.  So I had myself a little pity party, and I took a short break.  I needed to reevaluate and regroup.  I needed to see if my goals were realistic, and I wanted to know if I still had it in me to run because honestly, I didn’t think that it was in me.

The week that I took off proved to be very effective in helping me to figure me out.  I was finally able to let it go and swallow my pride, and take that first step and move on.  Trust me, it was only a week, but it was difficult.  I felt ridiculous wallowing in self-pity over something that wasn’t even bad.  I finished, damnit!!!  I know that.  I get that.  But it was still hard.

I am my own worst critic.  I expect so much out of myself, and I expect to perform well.  I am definitely my own worst enemy.  I am harder on myself than I am on anyone else.  So, yeah, it was hard for me to come in last place.  And it was hard to just let it go.

So I  knew that I had to step up my game.  I knew that I had to work hard.  I knew that I had to keep my body healthy.  And I was ready.  I had to change my mindset and completely forget what happened and just move on already.

I worked hard.  I got my plans weekly and I worked dilligently.  I got my mileage in.  Speed work, long runs, core, legs.  I did it all.  I know that it was helping.

August … Modesto Midnight Half Marathon … PR @ 2:12.  Yes!!!  I had such a good run that night.  I had run 3 before, then 3 afterwards.  I felt good, and I was happy.

I don’t slack.  I continue to work hard.  I work at getting my head screwed on straight.  I work on positive thinking.  I work on remembering that I am not racing against others, but rather I am racing against my own self.

September … Wolf Pack Events Fall Showdown Half Marathon.  I don’t sleep well the night before.  I think, “Well, I’ll just run.  No big deal.”  I normally would have run with Mac, but she was injured, so I run with Ron (@punkrockrunner) in the beginning.  I feel tired, but I don’t let on.   I just continue to think that I’ll keep on going.  I lose Ron somewhere around mile 5.5, and I end up missing a turn on the trail.  Once I realize that I’m off track, I realize that the trail took me up about a half mile further off the trail.  Gah!  I catch up to Ron at the turn around and we run together.  I’m tired, but I’m still going.  I’m kind of upset that I’m way off, but what could I do?  Nothing except just move forward, and that’s what I did.  I know that I’m still on track.  I know that I’m doing well.  I know Ron’s not behind me anymore, but I don’t look because I never look back.  I just run.  Mile 10, then 11, then 12 … I keep telling myself that I’m okay, that I’m gonna be okay.  Then just like that … I could see the finish.  That finish line was *this* close … And I hit the finish mat … 2:15 for almost 14 miles!!!  Another PR.

I have no clue.  I’m just so happy that I finished so strong.  I knew nothing about my ranking, or where I finished.  I just knew that I felt good and that I finished strong.  Then my husband says, “I think you won your age group!”  WHAT???  The updated stats aren’t up yet.  So I wait patiently … And as I wait, I cheer all of the other incoming runners in.  I’m just happy.

Then the new stat sheets are posted, and the announcer calls everyone’s attention  … and he’s just called out my name.  Winner of my age group!!!  I go up and collect my awards – a first place medal, and a plaque.  Oh. My. God!!!  I did it.  Redemption!!!  Redemption!  YES!!!

But I remember what it feels like to be last … so I contain my happiness, and I continue to congratulate everyone, every runner.  I am truly happy for everyone … every runner.  I would never discount anyone.

The truth is … I am just your average runner.  What I have learned is that that we all run our own race, and that we don’t compete against each other, rather we compete against ourselves.  I  know that there will always someone out there that will be faster, work harder, do better.  But I have learned to run MY race and to be happy and relish in my own little victories, and at the same time be happy for others also!  I can do that.

Me with my 1st place Age Group Medal, and awesome plaque!!!
The feeling of VICTORY as I was comin' up to the finish line!

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