Sun 19 May 2013
Have you ever set a goal for yourself that if you met it, then you would strive for bigger goal? But then, you successfully met that first goal and then thought—oh, what have I done? I just did that. I’m happy, but now I’m wigged out.
Last year, in April 2012, I ran the Boston Marathon, the one in the really high heat. I qualified by running the Lincoln Marathon (Nebraska) by running a personal record (at the age of 56 by the way) in 3:53:23. Now, I will tell you that I was considering retiring from running marathons. Boston was my 15th marathon and 15 is a good round number.
So I trained really, really hard. I was hoping to maybe run another personal record and go out with a bang—especially at Boston. I ran a personal record at my first ever Boston Marathon in 2009 at the age of 54. That was a phenomenal experience and I was hoping to repeat that in 2012. But, it didn’t happen. Instead, I ran a personal worst at 5:26.47. Can I really blame the weather for such a huge time difference? Yep, the most I can say about that performance is that I finished.
Needless to say, as the months rolled by, I stood firm on my decision to retire from running marathons. I was ready to let the marathon running go—the exhausting training, time commitment, aching body. Plus, it turned out, not only was I exhausted, but I had developed a severe ham string and glut injury from over training. I took two months off from running and just did yoga.
That was an interesting experience which increased my flexibility from non-existent to stiff and made me realize how tough it was to come back from not running for an extended length of time. Yes, the injury healed but at what price. It was a good two months before I felt comfortable doing a seven mile run. Forget trying to run at a decent pace, it just wasn’t happening.
I always found it easier and more exciting to train if I had a goal—a challenging goal. So I set a goal for myself to train for a half-marathon and, if I beat two hours, I would train for one more marathon—so I could end on a high note. I decided to train for the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon. I had planned to go with friends anyway—we love the wine garden after the race, plus it’s a beautiful course. I originally thought I’d just run it easy, but now I had this goal.
So I trained for the last three months and got my longest run up to 14 miles and weekly mileage up to 40, not bad but not great. When I stood on that starting line, I didn’t know what to expect. I remembered the hills…
Well, the ending was a happy one. I crossed the finish line in 1:58:21. But what was so meaningful to me was how much fun I had running that distance and the thrill I had meeting my goal. Now all of the confidence has come back and I feel a fire inside. It’s a good feeling. But isn’t this true of any challenging goal—not just running?
I signed up for the California International Marathon in Sacramento on December 8, 2013. Yes, it’s a fast course and many people qualify for Boston on that course. So, I’m wigged out. I had made a promise to myself that I would go support the 2014 Boston Marathon, whether I run it or not. I know it will be hard to qualify for 2014—just meeting the qualifying time won’t cut it. Talk about a challenging goal… Will one more marathon turn out to be two more marathons? Maybe…we’ll see.
Note: My book, Breaking Barriers, will be published in 2013. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in being included on the email list. “No, sheer effort is not the key to getting what we want. It’s much easier than that. Yes—easier.”