At long last I have stumbled into the oasis in the Desert of PR-less-ness! In spite of a long hiatus from track races, my first 5k back on the track yielded a much coveted PR by 7 seconds. "Psh, 7 seconds, that's it?!" you might say. In 7 seconds you could trim a fingernail, peel a Clementine, tie a shoe, or put toothpaste on a toothbrush, what's so great about 7 seconds? Especially when you factor in the fact that that particular 7 seconds took me 6 (yes, SIX) years to knock off. That averages out to be a hair more than 1 second a year. But the point is, seven seconds in six years doesn't seem like much, but I'm stoked! I will take progress in ANY and all of its glorious forms.
Immediately after finishing however, I was split 50/50 upon Scott telling me, "16:51." 50% stoked that it was my best 5k on paper to date; that one year ago today I honestly thought maybe this was as good as it would ever get, that the tank was near empty, enthusiasm was fizzled, and that at this point I was grasping at straws and investing time into something I wasn't even doing well anymore--the kind of stuff I wouldn't let myself say out loud. To prove myself wrong, even a little, was extremely satisfying to say the least. But then I was 50% surprised, not necessarily disappointed, but surprised in a way that it was not more, not a bigger PR. Yeah, that sounds greedy I know, but in the back of my mind, the more self-defeating part that thinks like a troll on Letsrun.com thought, "You've put in thousands of miles since you ran 16:58, that should put you way ahead of where you are now! Heck, let's be real, an entire minute more off of that still lands you as a Nobody in this sport." But you know what? SHUT the f*** UP Troll. 7 seconds may be pretty insignificant to most people, so is 30 seconds, or 2 minutes. But as Scott will say, effort matters more than outcome. A LOT of sweat and tears and questioning go into that miniscule bit of time. And maybe more than a little too much thought; run more miles, do more long runs, take more ice baths, do more core, do more drills, do more strides, get more sleep, eat more veggies, run less miles but run them harder, or that oh-so Great Unmentionable lose a few pounds.
Regardless of the idea that it's a fraction of time, it's an indicator of progress, a huge payoff, a chance to breathe a sigh of relief that it hasn't all been in vain, and a reason to really believe that there can be more ahead. Hopefully this is just a beginning, but you have to live in the present and enjoy what you get--even the little things--when you get it, because who knows when "next time" will be? And give yourself a pat on the back before you get back to work.
As I was watching the rest of our crew circle the track in the 10k in pursuit of their own PR's, I saw a handful of Hansons runners go by, for some reason an interview that I read a long time ago featuring the once-unknown Desiree Davila popped into my head, the one where her coach tells her, "People are going to think that you're wasting your time. You're going to have a lot of years putting in work that no one will ever see. No one will know your name. This is what it is." And she replied, "I know what it is, I still want to be part of it." PREACH IT.