“Create a challenge for myself and stick to it.” That was my mantra going into 2014. I wanted to find something that would both challenge and inspire me.
In January, I completed my first challenge — the Spartan Race, which is a 5K obstacle challenge. It was exhilarating, challenging, and amazingly rewarding to cross the finish line.
To say I was hooked on this small achievement is an understatement.
My First 5K
I ran my first 5K in May of 2014. I had never considered myself a runner, but as a former competitive athlete I was used to strength training and conditioning. I knew I was not prepared to run all 3.1 miles, but since my husband injured himself, I offered to run in this race for him.
There were over 5,000 people participating in this race, and I was not a huge fan of being crowded and essentially cattle-herded through the starting line. However, despite this discomfort, I pushed through by re-directing my focus to the purpose and cause behind the event.
As I ran by the Cancer hospital, by all those who were survivors, loved ones, and newly diagnosed, it became clear we are ALL in the race of LIFE — and I was ready to start this amazing journey for myself (and my inner runner).
My First 10K
When I thought about my next challenge, I realized my runs needed to be for a cause or something I felt very strongly about. Soon after, I received an email about a 10K run for the Fallen Soldiers. As a wife of a two-time veteran and having a lot of involvement with the military, I took on this challenge, but I did not train or prepare.
On the day of the race, it was hot as we ran along on the black top with cars passing us. Having entire squadrons of ROTC cadets running by shouting cadence, each of us wearing a bib with a photo of a fallen soldier — even some carrying battle buddies on their back — I found my purpose.
I made it to the farthest mark I had ever run, 3.1 miles, and I thought about stopping, “Why should I run further than a 5k? I've never run more than this, much less double the distance.”
I was still running for the purpose and for the cause and others. It was then I realized why I should I keep running — it was for me. I completed the 10K (which is the equivalent to 6.2 miles) and I ran the entire time. My legs hurt, I was thirsty, hot, and PUMPED! Wow, I had done it!
Training for a Half Marathon
After the Fallen Soldiers race, I decided that if I can run a 10K, I should try to run a half marathon. I knew it would require training and planning. As I calculated my plan, my thoughts drifted towards “ I don’t have time” and “that seems like a lot of time away from my family because it will at least 4 days a week of running anywhere from 3-13 miles.” I had never run more than 2 days a week and, at the most, 2 or 3 miles at a time. This would take discipline and dedication. Was I ready to commit to something like this?
Well, the answer is — I am now 6 weeks into my 12 week training schedule and the most I have now run in a week is 15 miles, with my longest distance being 6 miles, and my fastest mile being 9:06 (not bad for someone who was not a runner 6 weeks ago). Are there days I don’t want to run? Absolutely, but the sacrifice outweighs sedentary evenings that are now filled with a 2-4 mile run. My son plays competitive soccer, so I run the fields. It set an example for him as well that I too am dedicated to myself and my well-being.
I will be honest, making the commitment is sometimes a struggle, but I am working to make this a lifestyle and habit change. I have also shifted my perspective on my runs. I was fortunate to come across this Ted Talk about perception and crossing the finish line. There is so much you can take from it not just for running, but in everyday life — our stressors, challenges, nutrition, and lifestyle. If I can change our perception and look from various angles to create a better outcome, I am definitely up for that challenge!
I will be running the Best Damn Race half marathon on Saturday, February 7, 2015 in Safety Harbor, Florida.
I challenge you to find something that you can find purpose in doing for yourself. Maybe it is walking 5 minutes a day, meditating on the patio after a stressful day, getting some beginner yoga tips, drinking more water, cutting out sweets, making better food choices, or getting enough rest.
Make the challenge achievable, and be proud of yourself for the little mountains you climb along your journey. I will share along the way and may have yet another challenge up my sleeve after I accomplish this goal. Stay tuned, and remember — you can do all of these great things for yourself and focus on your OWN purpose.