I have often thought about races and when someone should be pleased with their performance. Most of the times that I set a PR I have felt that I could have gone a little faster during the middle of the race or I could have picked it up a little sooner to eek out a few more seconds or perhaps a minute or more in longer races. The days where I haven't felt my best because I have been either sick, over trained, injured or just not feeling my prime have been the times where I have learned the most about racing and have had to content myself with knowing that I gave what I had.
Bret, I agree that we learn the most about our running/racing when we go through the most hardships. Great job at #ECSUT by the way. I work with the series and was the one who handed you your overall winner bag before you went up on stage. Impressive running!
Hey thanks, I knew you worked with the series but didn't recognize you at the race. It was a lot of fun. Makes me want to fly out to some of the other ECS races.
Well, for me it depends. I did my first triathlons this year, and I'm satisfied with finishing them, because that was my goal and I don't have a strong desire to do any more. With trail ultras, however, I'm always thinking about how to improve because I intend to keep running them for many more years. And to me, "improvement" does not necessarily mean a new PR - it includes running smarter, more efficiently, less pain/chafing, longer distances, and any number of other things. And regardless of time or finish order, let's remember to be thankful that we're healthy and fit enough to be out there doing what we love!
I can definitely understand how improvement can have many definitions. Often times it is quantified by time/pace/results, but understanding our body and learning to run smarter/efficiently like you say is also a great gauge.