“Did you win, mama?”
I had arrived home from the race spent and crusty. I lost and, although that part wasn’t unexpected at all, I had run probably the most miserable marathon out of my total of 15 finishes. The Columbus Marathon, not to mention a few hundred other runners, had beaten me thoroughly.
From the gun, runners flowed around me, among them quite a few friends but thousands of strangers. Right away, I got caught up in a friendly pack. I’ve embraced my introversion recently, but something here felt right and I lost my inhibitions, comfortably joining the chatter.
I lost my nerve, but only briefly. Approaching 13 miles my new friend had left me behind. I was warm. I was tired. I was uncomfortable. I stared longingly at the turnoff toward the half marathon finish. I swerved, calculated the consequences, then corrected. I’d finish the whole f-ing enchilada.
I lost my pride. I was on track to run my slowest marathon in 10 years, and my pace was going the wrong direction quickly (ha). I was walking regularly. I considered what people might think about this result next to my name, then let the thought just die. I ran, then walked again.
I lost my faith. How was I once able to dream of running an Olympic Trials qualifying time? At this point in the marathon I was barely able to run a single mile straight through and it was really, really hard. I doubted my ability to finish this run (/walk), let alone string together any 6:15 miles one day.
Then I lost my shit. Finally. That is, I lost the BS excuses I’d been feeding myself, the excuses for quitting workouts and sleeping in, for lowering my goals and feeling only nostalgia for the runner I used to be rather than desire and hope and ambition for achieving whatever my potential it. I disputed the memories that falsely claimed that those miles and those paces used to be easy. It’s harder now, sure, but it was never actually easy.
I became lost to the world, passing a high school friend and even Bergamot screaming my name twenty inches from my head without even flinching.
“No, I didn’t win,” I told my son.
In the end, actually, I had nothing to lose.