Permission to Reflect
Its no secret that I am a fan of Sir Van Morrison who is still recording and performing live at the age of 76. Its pretty common knowledge from those who follow him that Van doesn't live in the past, he is all about the "now". As you might expect live performances you would see from Van in 2022 would look, feel and sound very different from performances recorded in the 1970's, or even from A Night In San Francisco, recorded in 1993.
I feel the same way, I tend to live for now and am always looking forward, but I've come to realize that I am not the person or athlete that I was 20 or 30 years ago. A marathon that I ran and trained for in 1998 will be very different to the marathon I run and train for now. How so, well, back when I set my marathon PR I ran 6 days week with speed, hills and long runs built into each week. Now I run 3 times a week or every other day if I'm feeling good, but I feel that I'm always looking down the barrel of a running injury.
At the ripe old age of 55, I am still ready and willing to train and race hard but the athlete I am at 55 is unrecognizable from the athlete I was at 30 when I was hitting my PR's and truth be told I barely remember that person. I can relate to, but not really comprehend how fast I was able to run across all race distances from 5k up to a marathon. The trouble is I never really gave myself credit or permission to reflect on how well I was running - until now.
My mentality is to always plan ahead, looking for and training toward the next big race, a goal bigger and better than the previous goal. As soon as one race is finished, bring on the next one.
Whether its getting older, less racing due to Covid or having had surgery for Prostate Cancer I have started to reflect on some of my races from yesteryear. What I discovered was at the time I never gave myself permission to appreciate my performances or race results because I was always looking at who or how many runners finished ahead of me and if I'm being honest, I was always envious of how fast they were compared to me.
Similarly with race times, when I was running what I considered to be fast times for a half marathon, I was always looking at those who ran ahead of me or finished ahead of me instead of appreciating, as I do now, that anyone who steps up to the start line deserves enormous credit. You can extrapolate this across every race distance and triathlon I ever did right up to Cambridge Narrows Triathlon last August where I came off the bike in 7th but finished 11th. I was actually running well but still got passed by 4 speedsters. This time, however, I was thrilled, just 6 months post surgery.
I have given myself permission to understand that I will never see those race performances again and that's OK, I still have the wonderful memories of them and that's all I really need.
So, while we are in lockdown, take some time for yourself and reflect on your past racing or training performances and give yourself credit for what you have accomplished irrespective of the finishing time - and celebrate your major accomplishments. To help you reflect and to remind you of those race performances check this out - Athlinks is a great website for all those race results - https://blog.athlinks.com/results/
Below is a certificate from Athlinks from my favorite triathlon in Hereford in 2000. You can download certificates for any race results you appear in.
I entered my name and date of birth and was able to search for results back as far as 1996 and races that I'd forgotten I'd run. It includes running races as well as triathlon and its kind of cool to look back on all those all old races from years gone by and reflect on the places visited, the friends met, the running community as a whole and the fun of the whole experience. At the end of the day its the experience and who it was shared with that counts rather than the result. My most memorable marathon was my slowest but that's another story.
Footnote - I'm the old punchdrunk boxer who still believes he has one more great fight in him and so naturally I am going to Ironman Mont Tremblant again this year in the belief that I can set a PR in my Ironman - old habits die hard and there is life in the old dog.