Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Exceed Expectations

On the left my very first 5k, on the right exactly one year later
Now that I've had time to recover from my last half marathon I wanted to take some time to reflect back on my original goal and what I did to reach it, then exceed it, over the last year.  I promised myself on my last birthday that I would do at least one race a month.  It didn't matter where, with who, or what distance...I just needed to get myself out there and hit the pavement (or trail, or mud, etc).  I became a little obsessed with finding races to make sure I kept up with my goal from month to month.  I tried to recruit friends to run with me to help keep me motivated and interested when my spirit would start to dwindle.  When I looked at races in the upcoming months I kept wondering how long it would take me to tackle a new distance.

At first I thought it would take me the entire year to build up to an obstacle course race or 10k.  They simply seemed too big of a challenge and I couldn't picture myself finishing them.  I didn't even dream about anything beyond that because it simply didn't fit into my realm of possibilities.  Thankfully I had friends that encouraged me and assured me they would help me through to each finish line.  I'm not sure what I would do without them because race after race they pushed me a few miles farther, made me a few minutes faster and held out a hand whenever I needed helping getting back up.

About halfway into the year I ran my first 5 mile race and much to my surprise did not die.  I didn't even finish last.  This gave me the confidence I needed to finally sign up for my first mud run (I may have been a bit over zealous and actually signed up for 3 all in the same month).  Those races, while tough and left me with plenty of bruises, were not nearly as "impossible" as I thought they would be.  I enjoyed them and when each one ended I secretly wished I could keep going.  If you hate running, OCR/Mud Runs are for you.  They're fun, exciting, friendly and best of all you get breaks from running each time you reach an obstacle.  I have to warn you that they will test your limits in some cases, but you won't truly know just how far you can go until you push yourself past your comfort level and realize your threshold is much higher than you imagined.  Get a group of friends together and try it out, having people to help you and cheer you on was what made the difference in giving it my all instead of just giving up. 

The month following my crazy mud month I ran my first half marathon.  I have a recap of it back in the archives (http://theracethatneverends.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-power-of-positive-energy.html). In that post I explain the story of how I did it mostly by chance and a lot of luck.  After tackling a half marathon I set my sights on a triathlon and was able to knock 2 of those out in one month.  Looking back, I realize that my own doubt was the only thing holding me back.  Don't let fear get the best of you, it's like a pack of termites in a house eating away at the foundation that you've built.  Deep down you know you can do it and given the opportunity you'll be able to prove that the little voice that wouldn't let you give up or give in was right.

I'm sitting here reveling in the joy of my accomplishment and can't help but smile as I count the total of how many races I finished in one year.  The goal was 12, I more than tripled that number and have plenty of medals to show for it.  If you would have asked me then, I would have told you that doing close to 40 races is just crazy and there's no way I could ever do a half marathon or triathlon.  That's really what I believed then.  It's still a shock to look at the progress I've made and envision all that I will continue to achieve.  I'm not done, this journey isn't over, my race has just begun.
My sweet bling...always earned, never given

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