Here's a quote from this past spring:
“This was my sixth marathon and the fifth time I've ended up in the medical area,” he smiles. “Every time I run, it’s with the mindset that if I die at this race it’s OK.” — Yuki Kawauchi, 3rd-place finisher (2:08:37) of the Tokyo Marathon
At my recent marathon, I thought of this quote as I entered the last miles and saw my goal time slowly slipping away. With two miles to go, I asked myself if I was willing to push as hard as Kawauchi in order to achieve my goal. It turned out that I actually did have enough energy left that I didn't have to resort to heroics to duck under my time. However, the truth is that I would not have been willing to risk death or even a visit to medical in order to beat the clock. My lack of courage took a bit away from the feeling of successfully reaching my goal.
Of course, few of us are contending for a podium spot or qualifying time so the incentive isn't as great as for the elites. However, do you feel that you ever race with the mindset that Kawauchi does? Have you pushed so hard that you ended up needing medical attention (not out of foolishness but out of determination)? I don't think I've ever come close.