There is something special about looking yourself straight in the mirror on a random Saturday morning and saying; today is the day. Today is the day I start on my journey to becoming a runner. That random Saturday morning is also the day you say, “why I did just tell everyone that I’m going to finish a half marathon when I can’t even run a mile?” Let the anxiety about going outside my comfort zone begin.
It’s in THAT moment though that you MUST give yourself permission to be a beginner. You also must give yourself permission to launch the 1.0 version. I once heard that you shouldn’t wait until you’re not scared to do the thing you want to do. That you should just do it scared because You’ll amaze yourself. I’m here to tell you, that’s false. You will NOT amaze yourself. Nope, you simply won’t. You will become your OWN damn hero.
Eleven years ago I looked my coworker straight in the face and said challenge accepted. This co-worker, who had completed two marathons, challenged me to finish a half marathon. When I say challenged, I mean challenged. He knew I was competitive and that I had been trying to find that ‘thing’ in my life. You know what I’m talking about. That ‘thing’ we all look to accomplish because we’re coming up on a milestone birthday (25, 30, 40, 50 it doesn’t matter really). Needless to say, it took me about a Nano second to say, ‘You’re on!” The next day is when I had that little ‘chat’ in front of my bathroom mirror.
I probably had that same chat with myself 100 times before I walked out the door to log my first mile with another coworker who just happened to be a high school track coach. Talk about freaking out! But here is what she quickly taught me as I huffed and puffed, grasping for air and feeling like I was going to vomit my insides out… Being a runner, especially a confident runner who finishes her goal race, comes from having wins and you can’t have wins if you don’t try. So, what did I do, I tried. I tried to run a mile. Then I tried to run two miles. Then it turned into three miles. Slowly over months I would win, I would become more confident. Trust me, it was NOT pretty. I failed numerous times. I failed when I fell because I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk. I failed when I couldn’t walk for two days after a mile run. I failed when I skipped a workout. Failing is NOT fun. But it’s a normal part of the journey. Failing is necessary. You simply cannot progress towards your goals unless you fail along the way.
As I continued to fail and yet gain confidence in my ability to finish that half marathon, I noticed how much I started to love that runner’s high. But what I really noticed, is how much I LOVED what running gave me. Running gave me the ability to see the world around me differently. I saw the little waves from people driving by who saluted my effort. I saw the nods that other runners gave me on those beaten trail paths. I saw the leaves fall, the trees bloom, the snowflakes drop and the rain wash everything away. These were all ‘things’ that I never truly saw before. Running slowed time in a way. Running gave me time to look, feel and appreciate life around me.
As I finished that first half marathon ten years ago, that feeling of pride, confidence and absolute wonderment is still with me today. It’s still my worst half marathon time ever. It doesn’t matter though. I’ve watched myself go from being competitive with other people and putting so much validation on what they thought of me as a person and as a runner to this ‘other’ version of me. The version who continues to set new goals for herself, even though they seem so audacious and so outside of my comfort zone. But are they really?
Let’s face it, I’ve run 3 marathons and 29 half marathons. I’ve run countless 5k’s, 8k’s and 10k’s too. How do I have the audacity to think that I will not cross my 30th half marathon in less than 1:59:00?? Especially since I was hungry last year but I didn’t work for it. Well, I physically worked for it. I pounded out the miles. But I didn’t mentally prepare for it. Instead of talking myself into it. I talked myself out of it, even on race day. I quit on myself. I called myself a failure even before I failed. But as I have failed over and over again the last ten years, I’ve learned the difference between wanting a goal and working for a goal – it’s ambition. It’s focusing. It’s believing. It’s embracing being an underdog to that audacious goal. It’s not quitting on yourself. It’s showing up NO MATTER WHAT! Because there is truly NO feeling like running across that finish line.
So to all of you who are standing in front of that mirror on this random Saturday morning…repeat after me. "Today is the day I give myself permission to start. I give myself permission to be version 1.0 or even 3.0. Today is THE day I become my OWN DAMN HERO."
P.S. The verdict is still out on my 30th half marathon finish time. Stay Tuned…..