Defining Success

Success. It’s defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” That means that we get to really choose what success means to us. What is your aim? What is your purpose? When I coach this is a conversation that starts early. What do you want out of your running, or out of a race? Are you trying to win, PR, finish?

Last night I ran David’s Trail Endurance Race 11k. It’s a night trail race in northern Arkansas. It’s the first race I’ve run since having Walter, he’s 8 weeks old today. Originally when I signed up I thought this would be a fun no pressure race. I have family in the area so we use this race to visit. The night race meant that I could race, and then Nathan could race in the morning and we wouldn’t need help with childcare.

As we planned to come down I looked at the registrants. There were four of us. FOUR. I was the only female.


What was that going to mean. Honestly, this suddenly felt like way more pressure. This was no longer just a low key fun little race. Now I was going to stand there with a very small group of men that I felt like I really had to try to hang onto. How would I feel about seeing first place/last place on paper? What an odd possibility.

The weather forecasts weren’t great, so there weren’t the usual last minute signups. Instead, someone didn’t start. There were three of us. THREE OF US. We all introduced ourselves, and the Race Director (RD) asked us if he needed the air horn to start us, or if he could just say go.


The man who won pulled ahead at the start, so that wasn’t happening. I held on to the second place guy for a little over two miles. That’s what I could manage. So there it was. First place/last place. I was now sitting in a spot that causes some anxiety for me. I was going to have people waiting on me. Plus, the idea of being listed as first female felt ridiculous at that moment. I mean, I was legit going to be handed an award. I was pushing as best I could, but let’s be real. I am less than two months postpartum and this course isn’t easy. I logged 1,082 ft of gain, It’s an out and back so by the turn around I knew exactly how far behind I was, and even though I was trying there was no catching those guys unless they decided to walk it in. We also started in mist and finished in rain.

So now what was success going to mean? I had about three and a half miles to think about this. I was concerned about starting with a tiny field. I was worried about how it might make me feel to finish last and significantly behind everyone. I started the race anyway. Success. When I knew where I was going to finish I didn’t just settle in and meander my way back. I pushed on the way back and had an incredibly even split. I ran the absolute best that I had. I finished with my best case scenario anticipated time. I am less than two months postpartum and was able to at least try to hang on to the men in front of me.

When I finished I was handed the award for first female. The rain storm had opened up in that mile so we got to chat about the lightning and the trail. I told him how intimidating it was lining up for this. I had a great time. I’m glad that I was gifted some time to process through what I wanted out of that race. I’m also incredibly grateful for some quiet time on the trails. Im calling this race a success. I’m sure I’ll be back next year.

Plus I got to wear my fancy Lululemon reflective pants!

Nathan did an great job at the 25k this morning!❤️

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