Last week I ran a half marathon in Cannes. I told people I was hoping to run it in 1hour 27minutes. In the end I ran it in 1 hour 23 minutes 54 seconds. As I crossed the finish line I stopped my stopwatch and realised I’d dipped under 1 hour 24minutes I was ecstatic.
I was completely destroyed but you could not wipe the smile off my face. I had trained really hard. I had made sure I tapered in the week coming to the race. And on the race day I made sure I ran the race I was meant to run, I didn’t go off too fast and ran every kilometre in 4 minutes from start to finish.
I also had enough energy to sprint the last 200meters which I think made the crucial 6 seconds difference between a 1 hour 23minute time and a 1 hour 24 minute time.
I stayed “ecstatic” for the next 24 hours and then that sensation slowly slid into “happiness” in the following 48 hours. Now a week on from the race I am “satisfied” with how I did but I am eager to move on to my next challenge.
I used to think that this temporary happiness with my achievements, (invariably it’s not just running that makes me feel this way) was a flaw. Or at best I thought the temporary nature of happiness was in inbuilt part of the human condition that drives us on to achieve even greater things.
Now I think not being ecstatic about running a 1 hour 23minute half marathon seven days later is actually a bigger achievement than the race itself.
I think the biggest achievement one can aim for is to create a new “normal”.
Running a sub 1 hour 30minutes marathon is normal for me now, even in training.
Running 10km in less in less than 40 minutes is now standard.
And even though I have only ever run one marathon in less than 3 hours 15, I did it while I was injured and so I would like to think that is my new normal.
All those things a year ago were far from normal for me. They were extraordinary.
On race day I want to achieve something extraordinary for where I am physically. But after the race the biggest achievement is to make that your new normal. And the biggest achievement is not being ecstatic about being normal.
(The picture today is taken the day after the marathon of someone running in the south of France being very normal)