There are many oxymorons that we used in the English language. Words such as JUMBO shrimp, girly man, awfully pretty, and black gold just to name a few. However, after I started training for and running marathons I eventually came up with my very own oxymoron….”successful failure”. Let me tell you about how this term came about.
My very first marathon was San Antonio 2009. That had to have been one of the hottest damn summers I have ever trained in. Despite the heat, every training run was AWESOME. I felt like a million bucks every Saturday and every run during the week was equally as great. I experienced no cramping, no dehydration and no injury. I was training for a 3:45 and was confident that I would achieve my goal on race day. Plus, the marathon was in November and I was looking forward to a nice, cool race. BUT I forgot that in Texas weather is anything but predictable. I walked out of my hotel and was greeted by a warm blast of air and a ton of humidity. I stuck to my race plan…big mistake. This was my first successful failure, although I had yet to realize it. I cramped, I bonked, I died, I walked, I ran, I stretched, I failed, I ran a 4:22 but I finished.
My next marathon was, once again, San Antonio. I wanted revenge for the previous year. I trained a little harder, a little faster. I was training alongside some of my group members that were faster than me the previous season. However, my overall “A” race for this particular season was for Austin. San Antonio was supposed to be a fun run. I started out with the 4 hour or so group. And by the half way mark I had almost caught up to the 3:45 group. But this was also the point where I jammed my knee and that was end of that race. DNFs suck.
I took a couple of weeks off and did nothing but mope around the house and then got back to training. I was determined to make Austin my come back race and redeem myself. I still trained with the faster group. I still had my 3:45 goal. I figured that Austin would definitely be a cooler race since it would be in mid-February. I mean, it was in the 40’s when I ran the Austin half marathon the year before. But, like San Antonio, it was warm. Is this just my damned luck? I ran a 4:03…an 18 minute PR. I missed my goal, AGAIN, but I set a shiny new PR. This is when I came up with the term successful failure.
I then signed up for Chicago and trained harder yet. I was STILL trying to hit that elusive 3:45 goal I set back in 2009. I figured that if I wanted a cool weather race, I had to leave Texas. Well, you guessed it, Chicago was warm too. WTH??? I just wanted to run a cool f!@#$% race. Was that too much to ask? This time, I just went out with my coach’s words in mind, “You do your best with the conditions that you were dealt”. I ran a 3:54…a 9 minute PR, ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL FAILURE.
I don’t know about y’all, but these types of failures aren’t too discouraging. I could get used to failing and still setting a shiny new PR. I might even qualify for Boston using this method, although, by that point, I might be in my 60s.
Anyway, the point of this is… DO NOT let a missed time goal make you throw in the towel. It could have been a bad day. In my case, all my marathons have been warm (to say the least) but a successful failure keeps me coming back for more. I will eventually catch that goal from 2009. Until then, I will accept a successful failure. I will keep fighting and digging deep until I surpass the damned goal.
(Oh, and, if you want a cool weather race, you might want to avoid signing up for any marathon that I sign up for. There seems to be a pattern.)