Where one places in an event matters very little. In fact, you learn far more about yourself when you don't win or don't even place well in your age group. The lessons and rewards come from committing to an event, training for the event, preparing for the event, and participating in the event. The key is to take each step with conviction and a light heart. Embrace the obstacles that crop up in your life which make getting in your workout a challenge. Embrace the days you have to miss a training session because of other responsibilities. Embrace the great workouts; embrace the one's that suck as well. Unless you are a paid, sponsored athlete, there should be very little pressure on you to perform - enough to keep you motivated, yet not so much that it creates undue stress in your life.
While participation in a short endurance race (5K, sprint triathlon, flat 1/2 marathon, etc.) is a great way to stay motivated and enjoy your fitness, I promise - you learn far more about yourself when you are 5 hours into an endurance event, on the brink of exhaustion, wanting nothing more than to quite, than you can learn in 10 years of therapy. When you are completely broken down, stripped of your pride, your ego, and your defenses, you discover who you really are - you always walk away (or limp away) a better person, regardless the outcome.
If you are interested in an upcoming endurance event that is taking place right in our back yard, check out the upcoming Eagle Creek Trail 1/2 marathon and marathon. Already, I know of two PR Fitness athletes who are doing the 1/2 marathon and I just signed up for the full. If you are interested, get signed up. If you are interested, yet nervous, get signed up. If you would rather get a root canal than run a 1/2 marathon on the trails of Eagle Creek - see a psychiatrist, then sign up. Okay, I'm kidding about the psychiatrist thing (a little), but sign up. Myself and the other coaches at PR Fitness are happy to help get you prepared for the upcoming race, so let us know if you need help. Richard and I are planning to host a few training runs and "special events" at Eagle Creek this fall, which will be great training opportunities to get you ready for your race.
Be sure to email me when you have signed up- firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is the link to learn more about the race and get registered: http://planetadventurerace.com/trail/eagle/index.shtml
2009 JFK 50 Ultramarathon, Hagerstown MD - Race Result: DNF. Pulled from the course at mile 35 for reaching the checkpoint 15 minutes past the cutoff time. Personal Results: learned more about myself mentally, physically, and spiritually in 35 miles than most people will learn about themselves in a lifetime.