Yesterday, I ran the Kansas Half Marathon. It was the first race in a 3 race series, known as the Harvest Half Series (or Harvest 39.3).

This wasn’t my favorite race. Part of that is because I feel the race was a little disorganized, but another part of it was that I just didn’t run as well as I had hoped.

See, a few weeks ago (October 16th), I ran the Kansas City Half Marathon in 02:15:55. The Kansas City Half Marathon is not an easy course. It’s very hilly, and that particular day it was also unseasonably humid and a little warm. Yet, I had a great race. In fact, so great, that my original goal for that race was 02:20 – which would have been a 7 minute PR for the half marathon distances and 5 minutes faster than the half marathon split of the marathon I’d run 13 days prior (yup, it was also only 13 days after my full marathon).

So, when it comes to the KS Half Marathon, I really wanted to run a 02:15:00. The course was more flat, and the weather was much better – everything was in place for me to run my goal time.

Except it wasn’t.

I finished the race in 02:25:11. Obviously, that wasn’t anywhere near my goal time. To be honest, I’m not sure what happened. I started to slow down a little around mile 4, but I was still on pace. I continued to stay at that slower pace, but even at the halfway point, I was still on target to reach my goal and so I wasn’t too worried. But by Mile 9, I couldn’t seem to sustain the necessary pace for any length of time. I just felt tired.

At Mile 10, I thought about walking the rest of the race. I was going to make my time anyway, so who cares, right? Luckily, that didn’t last long. I reminded myself that running is about persistence. It’s about moving forward even when it’s not your best showing and making the bests of your circumstances.

Running is such a humbling activity. And just like life, it doesn’t always go your way. I just couldn’t pull it out yesterday. And that’s okay.

And you know what’s crazy? A year ago, I hadn’t even run my first 5k yet. And 5 weeks ago, I ran a marathon. A full marathon! And it was only 3 weeks ago that I ran that 02:15:55 half marathon.

And I was letting myself get disappointed over a 02:25 half marathon time?

That’s silliness. Just plain silliness.
So what did I learn from this race?

That it isn’t all about the race time. Because I was so focused on the race time, I didn’t enjoy the race as much as I could have or as much as I have in previous races. I didn’t allow myself to appreciate the scenery, the quietness of the country roads, the cute houses that I saw, and I didn’t notice as many signs. Even in races that I’ve run much faster, I’ve noticed these things. I was too focused and in the end, I think it actually slowed me down. And even if it didn’t slow me down, it caused me to have a less enjoyable run.

I also learned, as running continuously teaches you, that some days are just not your day. Just as there will be bad training runs, there will be bad races too. They won’t all be sunshine and rainbows and feel wonderful – even if you’re prepared. And this was a difficult pill for me to swallow because it hadn’t happened to me before in a race setting.

Sure, I’ve had plenty of tough training runs – but somehow, the stars have always aligned for me on race day. And yesterday, they didn’t. And that was difficult for me to accept at first.

Sunday (November 13th) is the next race in the series: The Gobbler Grind Half Marathon.  I plan to worry less about my time (although my goal will once again be 02:15). I want to look around and enjoy the scenery and the experience.