I crossed the finish line and smiled. My fingers fumbled to press stop on my watch and looked at the numbers again.
A running PR. A personal record.
But just as soon as the smile reached my cheeks, the corners of my mouth started to fall.
A PR, but not a fast PR.
When I ran the SF 1st Half Marathon a few weeks ago, I ran a lot better than I expected on a hilly course. Actually, I wasn’t expecting to run well at all, and there was a part of me – the deep pit in my stomach part of me – that dreaded it. I dreaded falling apart on the back half of the course once the hills started. I was afraid that nagging injuries would finally say, “Enough!!” And force me to not finish the race.
But I did finish. I haven’t run many official half marathons (this was my fourth), and I beat my previous best time of 2:08:58 by almost 2 minutes. I was elated. It was more than I was expecting on that day.
In the moments immediately following the race and in the days afterwards, I found myself downplaying the fact that I had run a personal best. I began to qualify my finish time. “I’m not a fast runner but it’s a PR for me.” Other thoughts started to speak up – You didn’t run sub-2. Other people are still so much faster than you.
I was embarrassed to say that I achieved a running PR when my PR didn’t feel all that speedy. Suddenly, my accomplishment didn’t feel like much of an accomplishment.
Which is silly, isn’t it? Any PR is just that – a personal record. Not a world record or Olympic record. It’s YOUR record and the best that you and your body has performed.
So why can’t we own our own records and accomplishments and be proud of them without qualifying them?
Yes, I still want to run faster and I would love to run a sub-2 hour half marathon (which is part of why I want to run another race this fall). But I’m also going to be proud of what I have accomplished.
Too often we jump ahead to the next thing – the next race or goal or invisible tier – before we’ve fully appreciated what’s right in front of us.
Next time someone asks me about my race or my running PR, I will answer the question without qualifying the result. Won’t you do the same?
Have you ever felt embarrassed by your PR or other accomplishment?
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