Failing, at anything, is not fun. Fortunately, it is rarely fatal or final.
The first weekend of February, I was in Huntsville, Texas, to crush my 50-mile PR, win the race, and do it all in the name of training for my 204-mile solo running of the American Odyssey Relay in April. Well, at least I got in some training.
When an unexpected and sudden stomach virus laid me out flat for the Wednesday prior to the race, even my quick recuperative powers could not put me back on course to adequately accomplish what I had hoped to in the race. However, I did not know this for certain until mile 24, when I was in the middle of the second of three loops. Yet when this realization hit, it was both swift and final. I was not going to be able to run the third loop of the race and therefore would not only be failing to win but would be failing to even finish—the dreaded DNF.
Perhaps because the suddenness of my energy loss left me knowing I made the absolute correct decision, this DNF did not sting as much as it could have. But it still stung.
Philosophically, it was a win as I wisely pulled out of a race where I was no longer racing. Realistically, it was a failure. A failure to do the things I not only wanted to do but knew were possible and well within my reach. Sure I could have walked the last loop and still completed the race, but completion alone was not what I was after.
Yet as much as we try to isolate ourselves from failure, we should realize that failure, while rarely fun, is indeed functional. We learn a great deal, some would say more, from failure than we do from victory. It is often a great motivator. It is a thing that makes us strive for something better. Thomas Edison tried over 1,500 materials before he found out tungsten was the best filament for a light bulb. I found out I may feel fine 24 hours after a stomach flu, but I was not fine enough to run a 50 mile race through the hills 3 days later.
Ten days after the stomach flu, however, may be a different story; which is why I signed up for another 50-mile race to be run one week after the one I had just failed to complete.