May 26th, 2013 by Joan Maiden
Like most people, I’ve set goals and failed time-after-time–I’d eat healthier, I’d finally lose those last 10 pounds, I’d exercise every day without fail, I’d stick to my budget–the list goes on and on.
I’ve accomplished some big goals and one of my biggest was the first time I ran a half marathon. I need the reminder at times that if I applying these same principles to other goals, I can accomplish anything if I want it badly enough!
My daughter called me one day and said “Mom, you’re in good shape,” “why don’t you run a ½ marathon with me”. “Well, it would have to be a really cool one,” I replied. “How about Big Sur?” she asked. “That sounds cool.” I said hesitantly.
Almost immediately she posted on her Facebook “WOOHOO, my mom is running the Big Sur ½ Marathon with me!”
“Crap”, I thought, “how will I ever manage to run 13 miles?” I haven’t run on a regular basis in over twenty-five years, my knees are a mess and I’m 59 years old. I sent in my registration anyway, paid the entry fee–and I was committed.
Of course, just my luck, the summer I started training for the Fall run happened to be one of the hottest in history—and I HATE hot weather. I got up at the crack of dawn started out. “What the hell was I thinking?” was a constant thought as I trudged around the track. I was so slow at first people probably wondered if I was even moving, but I kept at it throughout the long, hot summer.
I started to find that I enjoyed competing with myself and trying to improve my time. It gave me a sense of accomplishment and I actually started to enjoy the running. I slowly kept increasing my distance until one day I decided to see just how far I could run—I did the full 13 miles and even in under the time allotted for the race! “I can do this!”
On the way home I realized that if I could run 13 miles, I could accomplish ANYTHING! What was different about this goal than all of the others I’d attempted and failed?
1. I had a definite goal—a specific distance I needed to achieve.
2. It was a BIG goal…it would push me beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. It challenged me to reach a place inside I had let remain untapped for too long.
3. There was a firm date set by which I needed to achieve my goal. To achieve this goal, I couldn’t procrastinate. If I wanted to accomplish it, I had to start today. There was no putting off until tomorrow or waiting until the last week. This wasn’t a final exam that I could cram for at the last minute.
4. I had a commitment to other people (my daughter and all of our Facebook friends). It was important to me not to disappoint my daughter.
5. Achieving the goal was totally up to me. I couldn’t blame anyone else or use anyone as an excuse. I had to do the work. I couldn’t make excuses, or let outside circumstances waylay me—even the hot weather, and
6. Failure was never an option. I never considered not finishing the race.
The day of the race finally came. The forecast was for rain, but just before the start time, the sun came out and it was a beautiful day. I thought I would be nervous, but I KNEW I could do this. I never had any doubt. I knew I wouldn’t set any time records, but decided to enjoy the beauty of the waves crashing on the shore and the cool ocean breeze.
Yes, it was tough…about mile 8 going uphill, it got very rough, but I kept telling myself “just keep putting one foot in front of the other”. Stopping was not an option. At mile 12, I realized I REALLY was going to do this and felt like I was running on air. Nearing the finish line and seeing my daughter cheering me on with a look of pride on her face, made all the hours and miles worthwhile. There were tears in my eyes as I received my medal. Achieving my goal gave me a sense of accomplishment, but reaching a place deep inside and achieving a potential I never knew I had, gave me a sense of fulfillment I’d not experienced before.