A lot has changed in my life since this same month last year. I’ve run a marathon. My brother has adopted a puppy. I’ve traveled to India and Brazil, I’m dating someone new, and heart-throb Seal is back on the market. (Those last two items may or may not be related.)
But you know what hasn’t changed since April 2012? My performance in NYRR’s annual Scotland Run 10K.
This is the second time I’ve completed this race, giving me a chance to track my progress over the course of a year. Last year, I crossed the finish line at a respectable 50:58; a full 365 days later, I managed to shave off (drumroll please) a whopping 19 seconds to secure a time of 50:39. Not a bad performance in the scheme of things, no, but a time that’s in no way indicative of the literally one thousand miles I’ve logged in the 12 months since.
Saturday’s finish was also more than four minutes slower than my 10K PR of 47:31 recorded last June at the NYRR New York Mini. Four minutes may not feel a lot of time when you’re watching Ryan Gosling strut his stuff on the big screen, but it’s an eternity when you’re talking about 10K splits.
Or in other words (lifted from my good friend Toby Keith), it appears I’m not as good as I once was. Also, I should have been a cowboy.
But while it’s tempting to let my failure to improve as an athlete over the course of the year get me down, I’m trying hard to keep it all in perspective. Yes, my performance at the Scottish Run was nearly identical to last year’s, but I’m also coming from a vastly different athletic base. By the time I’d run this past weekend’s race in 2012, I already had six first-quarter races under my belt, including two other 10Ks and a half marathon in a blizzard. This year, my first-quarter race count was a big ol’ goose egg.
As a result, I haven’t been practicing pacing in a crowd or negative splitting or drinking on the go or – most importantly – getting my speed up to a racing clip, so of course this run would feel a little rocky. Without putting it in perspective, it’s easy to find myself disappointed with my performance, but once you take everything into account, Saturday’s lackluster outcome wasn’t worth getting bent out of shape over. I came at this year’s Scotland Run with painfully little training, and if I was still able to finish 19 seconds faster than I did last year, then maybe I’m not in such a bad place after all. I mean, if I were to actually start hard training again, who knows what I’d be capable of?
But perspective isn’t just for an athlete’s arsenal. It’s also an invaluable coping mechanism for non-athletes and non-humans alike. I mean, ever gotten a terrible haircut?
Tempting to let it get you down, sure, but sometimes, it just takes a little perspective, some time and a lovely red bandanna to get you smiling again.
How do you try to keep a disappointing race performance in perspective?