A year ago, I was wondering if I should set a big, hairy audacious running goal. I’ve been running and racing regularly for over 15 years and have piled up my share of 1 mile, 5K, 10K, 10-mile, Half Marathon and Marathon race medals. My goal has always been to beat my last time on that particular course or beat my overall best time for that distance. I’ve run in top physical condition, when I’m nursing injuries, in high heat, humidity, wind, rain, snow and even learned to run on ice (thanks to my friend Ed Guttenplan and Yak-Trax!). I’ve run on streets, trails, and tracks in cities all over the country. So, what was left? The ULTRA!
If you know me, you know that coming into 2021, I’d run 3 Full Marathons. My 2nd Full was a disappointing “war story” and my 3rd was a triumph-over-failure race. While I had always admired Ultra-runners and loved reading their stories, I wondered if I should let the 2019 race be my last “big race” and leave endurance racing on a high note. What if I tried this and failed? What if I couldn’t handle the training? What if I didn’t finish?
I am so fortunate to have something inside me that hears my fear-of-failure questions and whispers possibilities to me. What would it feel like to run 50+ mile weeks? What if I was that unstoppable? What if I completed this race and became an Ultra-marathoner? What was I really risking? My pride?
I decided to get out of my head and discuss the idea with a few of my run friends, my Run Girls. They were “all in” – literally saying they might run it with me. Why was I surprised? Our motto is: WE DO HARD THINGS! I then broached the subject with my most important race crew members – the hubs, Brian, and my daughters. After asking a number of questions (including was this going to lead to a 50 or 100 miler), they gave me their support. So, I signed up for the 50K Yippee-Ki-Yay trail race. As I hit “buy” on the race web site, I knew I was signing up for something scary and hard. Training for six months in Nebraska’s spring, summer, and early fall, running in high heat for hours on end.
- I’m an achiever and it had been a while since I’d had something really BIG on my goal dashboard
- I’d imagined being an Ultra-runner but didn’t know if I could do it – how else could I find out if I didn’t try?
- My Run Girls were so enthusiastic at the idea that I realized that if I had the courage to commit, they might find their courage, too.
My run girls, Jill, Robyn, and Miranda, signed up and we followed the same training plan, running together when we could and providing support and accountability to one another. It was the best kind of teamwork. The training plan called for a 26.2-mile Saturday run, and three of us signed up for the Wabash Marathon on 9/11. By the time that race rolled around, it was going to be 88 degrees and I had pretty bad hip and shin pain, but we got it done and recovered well. And, I got my 4th Full out of the training process, too.
On Yippee-Ki-Yay race day, the weather was a perfect 41 degrees, expected to be 60 by the finish. I’d been resting and rehabbing my injuries. I carefully planned hydration and nutrition based on learning over the summer. My race crew showed up in force to support me along the course. My husband joined me on his bike just before the half-way point and provided incredible support and companionship along the way. It wasn’t easy and I definitely hurt.
I set three goals going into the race:
- Must have: finish without disqualifying and recover well
- Nice to have: finish under 7 hours
- Thrilled to have: finish under 6:30
At about mile 24, my husband and I were doing the math and realized that it was possible for me to blow by all three goals, which was such an incredible moment in the race. After that, I got laser focused on the possibility of finishing under 6:30. By the grace of God, I was able to increase my pace in the last miles to finish in 6:19. I crossed the finish and became an Ultra-Marathoner alongside three of my Run Girls and with my family cheering me on.
Awesomeness! Pure joy! Thank God I had the courage to try!
As I’ve recovered, I feel so blessed to be able to run. To have such a loving, supportive family and such a powerful set of friends.
And I’m left wondering. What’s next?
What’s next for YOU? What’s on your big goal dashboard? What’s possible if you overcome your fear of failure and commit to TRY?
If you have a fitness goal, consider joining us for our annual (and absolutely FREE) ConvergenceCoaching® Holiday Exercise Streak which starts on Thanksgiving Day and runs through New Year’s Day, where you exercise a minimum of the equivalent of one-mile of running every single day. If you don’t run, we have a conversion chart for your exercise option. And, when you sign up and keep that commitment every day, we’ll send you a cool HES shirt as your reward. Sign-up here and join our Facebook page, too.
Hope to see you along the streak and hear about your goals for 2022, too!