I've been thinking a lot about second chances. You don't often get a second chance to do something better, and when you do sometimes you miss it. It's not easy to get a second chance in relationships, your career, or your athletic dreams so if you do wouldn't you take it?
Races are a special thing, unlike other sporting events, you can get a second, third, fourth, fifth, etc chance at a race. Sure, the racing field changes, the weather can be different, but there's still you and the course and if you sign up, pay the fee, win the entry lottery, you do get another chance to take on the challenge. Running allows you the unique option to come back and see if you can best your demons and make a better imprint.
In ultimate we used to talk about your "last best chance". We never knew from year to year what the team would look like, what our competition would be, and if we as individuals had hit our "ultimate peak". That year, that game, that tournament, might be your last best chance to win a national championship. Unfortunately you don't know it until it's long passed. It may be your last best chance to qualify for Boston in your age group, it might be your last best chance to run a sub 5min mile. But you can often get another chance to run a better race (not always a faster race), but a better race.
A lot of people have asked me if I'll ever do a 50 miler again. The opinions from people ranging from "probably not right?" to "you better not" (my mom). I've gotten confused looks from people when I don't give a definitive no, or when I say not this year maybe next, or when I say well I want to do a 100 miler so probably. After suffering a lot in my 50 miler, and suffering even more in the weeks after, I can't help but think about how lucky I am to be able to give it another shot.
I'm not going to be a runner who wins races, so my best is running a race well. You get a lot of last best chances to be a smarter runner, a better runner. Sometimes that means winning sometimes it doesn't. I'm lucky that I still have the physical ability to train and the economic stability to enter races and travel to the start.
There are a lot of moments in life that everyone wishes they could do better or had done better. You don't have infinite chances as a runner, but you get a lot of them if you're willing to put in the work. I feel fortunate to get the chance to do it better and would feel like a fool not to take advantage of it. Wouldn't you?