It's not about what happened Sunday.
As poorly as I ran the Long Beach Marathon and as tough it was on me mentally and physically, it's not about that anymore. What matters, what is most important now, is how I respond.
I had the worst experience I've had in any race I've run on Sunday. I was done, gassed, toast, out of energy, wiped out before I got to Mile 15. I somehow trudged forward and made it to Mile 20 and then, with the help of my brother Danny, plugged along until the finish.
While there are some positives to take away from that, what matters more is my approach now and in the days and weeks to come.
I cannot linger on Sunday. I cannot continue to think about all the mistakes I made, both in training and on race day itself. I can't. I'm better than that. I have to move my gaze forward, have to look ahead and not back, and if I look back it's only to prod myself to look forward and focus on what's to come.
I'm not done running marathons, not by a long shot. I'm going to keep running 26.2-milers; how frequently, I don't know, but I'm going to be back out there conquering the distance again. And if I want to do it the right way, I have to respond the right way, and train the right way.
The details are, for the purposes of this post, insignificant. I've thought about how to approach my runs, my exercises and workouts and my overall training regimen, but those details are for another blog post on another day.
Honestly, what I need more than a training plan is focus and a strong determined mindset. The best training plan will fail if the approach is not proper. That goes for professional teams, and it goes for marathoners such as myself.
I've done it before, many times before. I know what it takes to get things done. And I also know what happens when I take half-hearted approaches. I now know what happens too when poor training is mixed with a poor race plan, and I don't want to experience that again.
I need a little bit of the 2008 LB. I was determined, focused, motivated. It's not that I'm not those things anymore, but my outlook on things is different. In some ways, it's natural that it's that way. After all, in 2008 I'd never run anything, at least going into that year. But in 2008 I ran my first 5K, my first Mud Run and my first 10K. Everything was new to me and I had to forge a new outlook on things. That sense of accomplishing things for the first time was what drove me then, and now that I've run marathons and half marathons, have run countless runs of 10-plus miles, that outlook no longer exists.
It's cliche and everything, but it really is harder to stay on top than it is to get there. I'm not on top necessarily, but it is harder to stay at this level I'm at, of running marathons and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, is much more difficult to keep than it was to attain. That has to change. I cannot be satisfied with anything anymore. I have to keep pushing, keep fighting, keep proving myself.
The first obstacle was this post-marathon recovery period. Physically, it was no different than other marathons but mentally it was unique. I felt utterly disappointed with myself, and that's not something I've felt before. I felt embarrassed and ashamed, felt like I let a lot of people down. But what I realize now is that the only way to atone for myself, to make things right, is by my response.
I'm ready for the challenge. Today is the first day in a long time where I feel energetic about my approach to my training. I'm regaining some of those empowering feelings I felt throughout my weight-loss journey and along the path towards my first marathon. It took a horrendous marathon experience to snap me out of it but I do feel much more stronger now than I did just one week ago.
I'm refreshed. I'm refocused and recharged. I'm ready for the challenge.
Nothing is going to stop me.