From Personal Best to Personal Balance

With three weeks to go until the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon, one thing I know is that I won’t be running a personal best on May 28th. I feel just fine about that.

Personal Bests (PBs) are something that I have cared a lot about in the past. In each of my previous marathons, I’ve managed to shave a few minutes or seconds off my time; it was a key measuring stick for how I felt about my race, and all the work put into training.

But coming back from two years off running, and training for the first time with a toddler in the family, I knew this time was going to be different. I had made a commitment to not let running get (too much) in the way of family time.

However, if I was being honest with myself, my goal was still to run faster than before. I wanted another PB.

Well, that was then and this is now. Each week, I’ve missed a key workout or two. And each week I’ve missed the pace times I’ve been shooting for. No matter what race day brings, running faster just isn’t in the cards.

But as I was running along a quiet Rideau Canal tonight, I realized for the first time that I didn’t care. Running faster wasn’t what was motivating me.

Over the past three months, instead of stressing about finding more time to run, I had made time for bedtime with my son. I spent time hanging out with my parents who recently moved to Ottawa. I worked overtime. The usual everyday life stuff.  

And . . .

I still fit in two to three decent runs a week. I reconnected with my awesome running group. And I’m fitter and happier than I was before I signed up for the marathon. The icing on the cake is that in three weeks I get to go an awesome tour of this great city and have people cheer me on and give me water and snacks the whole way. Pretty cool.    

It’s funny the things you learn running. Back in December, if I thought I couldn’t PB, I wouldn’t have bothered to sign up. Now I realize that other things are more important to me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the simple beauty of running and the marathon experience.

In fact, just getting out there and running, without a lot of expectations, might be more important than ever before for keeping things in perspective.

So, for now at least, I’m going to measure personal best not by minutes and seconds, but about how I well I feel I’ve balanced running with other priorities. My new PB stands for Personal Balance.    

Special note: No amount of marathon training would have been possible without the support of my wife Meghan, who was game for me taking on another marathon at a busy time for our family, and has made it possible for me to get in as many runs as I have. Thanks honey. You’re the best.

Andrew Vincent is a musician, runner and partner at Spruce Creative. He is running the Ottawa Marathon on May 28th. His goal is to finish smiling, to get a high-five from son Tom, and to raise some money for the Alzheimer’s Society of Ottawa.