I really wanted this post to be a celebration about goal achievement. In this case, I had set an ambitious but realistic goal toward finishing the Bolder Boulder 10K Race in under 60 minutes at a time when I probably couldn’t finish one in less than 65 minutes.
So, I ran, a lot, for three months. I ran sometimes up to 10 miles at once and some 9-minute miles. My runs lasted for about six to eight hours per week, and I don’t even like running – I haaaate feeling winded. Pretty much everybody I knew heard about how I was going to finish in under sixty minutes. I was determined to get this goal under my belt.
I really wanted to be able to show you that if you set a plan, and follow it diligently, and believe in yourself, that you could accomplish anything, Rah Rah, Go Team! Furthermore, I also wanted to be able to make my mark and say “Hello World! Look at me! I’m a goal achievement wizard! I’m fit and healthy, and I’m not the old me (That used to weigh 100 more pounds) anymore!” I’ve also let this race beat me once before, because I didn’t make my goal last time, either. I really wanted to finally beat that stupid race this time. I also thought dedicating myself to this race would help me take off some weight that I’ve recently gained. And don’t believe for a second that I didn’t also think about how my race results are going to be on the internet for practically eternity, and also about that Facebook post I would write after the race. (Vain? Yes. But True? Still Yes.)
Well…None of that happened. I finished it in 61:31 – not less than 60:00, and I didn’t lose a single pound in three months.
I heard the sixty minute timer chime off in my headphones while I was still far enough away that I couldn’t even see the finish line, and that’s when I knew. That I had Failed at achieving this goal. With a Capital F. And the amount of time I spent preparing, obsessing, planning, thinking about how to make this happen, was all wasted. And I was embarrassed, too.
I finished the race 90 seconds later, and ran to a side railing to recover, because I was a total mess. Not just because I was physically spent, but also knowing that I just missed my goal achievement, and was nauseous on behalf of both counts.
Also, I’m pretty good at countering negative self-talk these days, but I won’t lie, there were definitely some jabs thrown in at myself about how I was still fat and out of shape and how “normal” in shape people are able to run 6 miles under 60 minutes without any problem at all and despite all of what I’ve put myself through, I still wasn’t one of THOSE special people who are able to do the beer keg stands, run through the slip and slides, and STILL finish in under 60 minutes.
So now what?
The best way to get over a bitter disappointment is find the silver lining on the dark cloud, and just move forward with a new focus.
The most important realization for me was that I pretty much tried my best/hardest. Maybe had I followed a different race strategy, I could have had a better result, but I did execute my race strategy as best as I could. It just didn’t happen to be enough. I didn’t leave very much physical effort on the table.
Then I saw that there were 526 34-year old women in this race, and I finished 123rd in that group. So, in the top 25%.
Then I thought about how the race was on Memorial Day, to commemorate those that not only couldn’t run the race, but couldn’t run the race, because they weren’t alive anymore, because they gave their lives in service to their country.
It then occurred to me that this race also had wheelchair participants in it, meaning, people that couldn’t run the race, at all, wheeled their way through it. When I ran it, I had two working legs with no injuries or physical disabilities, past or present, to get in my way.
You know what else? I ran the race faster than I did in 2015, after training for it for five months. (That time was 65:09). And that was after Failing Couch to 5K, which was a running program that told me I was supposed to be able to run 5K straight in 9 weeks. It didn’t happen, by the way. It took 12 weeks, and I had to repeat the last third of the program. But somehow I wasn’t a failure then, so why was a failure now? I wasn’t even able to run a mile straight, at any speed, until November 2014.
And last but not least, I was able to remind myself that if I have a goal, and a plan I have faith in, that I can stick with that plan, no matter how unpleasant it gets, or how much it scares me.
By the way, nothing in my life changed for not having met that goal. Life went on. I went to a BBQ afterwards. People went to work the next day. The world continues to turn.
I had a second crisis of confidence when I went to go plan this post out though. Because I started reading some of the back posts I’ve written about goal achievement. And then I started to feel like shit again. Because I realized I have gotten so far away from the stuff I believe in.
Because here are the things I have told you to do, that I failed to do myself:
- Give myself credit for what I DID accomplish
- Clear my mental blocks. Self doubt plagued me. I didn’t actually really truly 100% believe I could do it. Even a week before the race, I was saying, “I hope I can finish in under sixty minutes.” Rather than, “I WILL finish in less than sixty minutes.” and talking about how I have failed to run this race before, and how I have let it beat me before. It was so bad that I had people in my life CORRECTING my own defeatist language that I was using, several times.
- Got way too attached to the outcome of this endeavor.
- Let the outcome of this endeavor determine how I felt, giving it too much power over my life.
- Didn’t keep anchors in my environment to keep my eye on the prize.
- Being too hard on myself and not realizing that Doing something is better than doing nothing
- And finally, just because something doesn’t go your way, doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It just means try something else.
Sometimes it can be challenging to manage your mindset, and as I’ve clearly shown, I’m definitely not a pro at it. But the rewards of doing it are are a happy life well-lived, and it’s something anyone can do and achieve, with enough effort.
So, it’s time to forget the past, and just go forward.
I’ve signed up for a half-marathon in late July. I’ve never run that distance before. My goal is to finish it in under 2:15. But, I am battling two overuse injuries in my shins and piriformis muscles all of a sudden, so I’m forced to take time off of training. And the race is less than 2 months away. I don’t know if this fat, injured, out of shape girl can manage it.
But, I’m going do it better this time, at least mentally.
- I’m going to be happy just to finish.
- I’m going to finish that half marathon without stopping to walk a single time.
- It’d be nice to finish it in 2:15, but it’ll be fine if I don’t. It’ll be a personal race record anyway.
- I’m happy to just be running it with two other wonderful people and embracing being a runner running a half marathon, even if I’m a slow runner.
- As such my half marathon time won’t defeat me, reflect upon me as how much of a successful person I am, and I am one of the “special people” despite how long it might take me.
- At least I’m running a half marathon, which is way more than many people can say, and that’s something to celebrate in and of itself.
- Lastly, here I am trying to do something different, and better, and in a new way! Like, feeling fear and replacing it with curiosity and excitement instead.
If you’ve ever been disappointed with yourself, I hope hearing this little story helps you feel a little better, in whatever way that might be.