Silver Linings

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As a runner, I’ve had plenty of “runner injuries”…stress fractures, tendonitis, torn meniscus, and strains and sprains of all grades.  What I’ve never had though is a broken bone.  Even as a kid, I never broke a bone. Keith was a rough and tumble kid and was always in a cast of some sort but not me. Well, I guess 40 isn’t too late.

Keith and I headed out for our run last Friday. We had debated whether or not we wanted to go then (it was 5 degrees) or wait until Saturday afternoon when I got off work. I really hate to put runs off so we decided we’d suck it up, bundle, and get it done. We knew we only had a few hours to get our run in and get home in time for Georgia’s acupuncture appointment so we decided to run the Wolf River trails instead of Shelby Forest. These trails we’ve done hundreds of times so we know exactly how much time it takes from point to point which makes it easy when you’re pressed for time.

We were about 1.5 hours in to our run and Keith was in front. I was feeling fine. Was a few minutes away from refueling, felt plenty warm, had my headphones in, and was enjoying the completely desolate trail.  I was headed down a short but fairly steep downhill when all of a sudden, I was falling. It happened so fast, I’m not sure if I hit a root or a hole or what but it was very unfortunate that it all happened on a downhill because gravity was not my friend. I landed with all of my weight on my left knee and at the same time, felt (and heard) my right ankle break.  I’ve had ankle sprains that have taken me to the ground but I knew right away this was different. The pain was different and was severe.  I knew I needed to get to the car quickly but also knew we were 1.5 hours away and that was if we were running!

I was trying not to panic, as was Keith, but herein lies the dilemma of what to do if injured on a trail. It’s not as simple as sitting down and calling someone. I knew that it might take us twice as long to walk back to the car, assuming I could walk at all…..that would be 3 hours! Fortunately, Keith was thinking more clearly and knew we weren’t far from the Greenline (the trail we were on goes under the Greenline) so he thought that might be the best bet.  I was a little panicked that we were headed the opposite direction of the car but I also knew Keith was thinking more clearly than I was.

In Keith’s defense, he offered to throw me over his shoulder and carry me out but I am stubborn and my adrenaline was kicking so I was just on a mission to get out of the trail. We tried the whole arm over the shoulder thing to get me out but it’s tough to walk 2 wide on a single track trail! It’s also hard to limp on both legs!  Thank God my phone still had a little juice so he got in touch with my sister as we were walking out and she was able to come get us.  She met us at the Penal Farm, just off the Greenline. It took us about 40 or so minutes to get to where she could get her car to us. By then we were both pretty cold but I kept telling myself it’s as if i was already icing my ankle and knee 😉  This was my first silver lining.

Allison drove us to our car and we went straight to the urgent care. Runners are notoriously stubborn and I’ve never gone straight to the doctor but I’m very fortunate that I did.  Although I immediately told Keith that I thought my ankle was broken, the pain in my knee was almost worst so I was beginning to question if I was just being dramatic. :0

After x-rays, the final diagnoses was better and worse than I expected. I assumed I had torn my meniscus again and probably sprained my ankle.  It’s actually quite the opposite.  On the knee, the doctor feels it’s nothing more than a severe bruise behind the cartilage. Yay, can’t bend my leg and severe bruising behind the cartilage! Definitely better than a torn meniscus. Silver lining #2. The right ankle though is broken.  What a f*&King bummer! It is however a non displaced break which is much better than a displaced break. Silver lining #3.

So, in came the nurse with the dreaded boot.  Hate the boot but, they are allowing me a boot so they can re-xray in 2 weeks rather than casting me, cutting the cast off and recasting.  When I heard that a cast was an option, suddenly the boot became my friend.  Silver lining #4.  The nurse was apologetic as she was fitting me for the boot…how awful they are and bulky.  As someone who has had these in the summer when it’s a thousand degrees, I’m just happy it’s cold outside. Silver lining #5.

I’m beyond pissed, bummed, depressed….name it and i’m it…that I had such a fluke accident.  It’s like the time Keith bent to pick up the paper and threw his back out and was in the bed for weeks.  There’s no rhyme or reason to why it happened.  I just had the perfect fall.  Thinking I would have scored a 10 in a downhill, ankle breaking fall!  Yay, me.

I am bummed that I can’t run some upcoming races I had planned but I’m just even more determined to do everything I have to do to get back out there….even if that means sleeping in this damn boot and walking with crutches, neither of which I am finding to be very easy.

I’m beyond grateful for Keith.  I can’t imagine how stressful it was for him knowing that we were so far from the car and I know I wasn’t doing anything to make it any less stressful (thinking crying probably wasn’t all that helpful). I’m also grateful to him for all that he has to take on for the next several weeks since I can’t drive, walk, or really even stand.  I am very fortunate he is as wonderful as he is 🙂 Thanks, KR, you’re still my favorite person.

2013 Recap

I got an email from Nike Plus a few weeks ago with my 2013 “year end review” and it got me thinking….what in the world did I do in 2013?  It seems to have flown by.  Going back and looking, it appears that if it didn’t involve running or dogs, it didn’t happen 😉

A quick glimpse into my year:

January, 2013:

* Looked for Scout, day in and day out! After 2 weeks, Scout was found

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* Found Tallulah

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* Ran Swampstomper 25k

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February, 2013:

* New Orleans Half / Full Marathon with the group!

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* Ran Sylamore 25k

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March, 2013:

* Germantown Half Marathon with the group

* Volunteer day at Tunica Humane Society

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April, 2013

* Hells Hills 50k

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* Bark in the Park

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* 7th Anniversary

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May, 2013:

* MIM Triathlon w/ group

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* Oliver was found on a group run

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June, 2013:

* Dragonfly Tri w/ the group

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* Gearhead Triathlon w/ the group

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* KOTH w/ Keith

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July, 2013:

* Mighty Mite w/ the group

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* Full Moon w/ Keith

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* Picked up Stogie (Olde English Bulldog foster)

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August, 2014:

* Keith’s 40th

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* USAT Nationals w/ Keith

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* Stogie to his new home

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September, 2013:

* Cooper Young 4 Miler

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* Mexico

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October, 2013:

* Winnie moved in (foster bully 🙂 )

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November, 2013:

* My 40th and Georgia’s 10th birthdays

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December, 2013:

* St. Jude cancelled

* Party!

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* Star Runners Half Marathon

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I’m sure I left plenty of important things out but this pretty much sums up my year.  Dogs and running. 🙂

White River Marathon – Guest Blog

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Guest Blog by Anna Ritz

Aaaaaaannnnnnnd 26.2 is done! What an incredible experience, and perhaps even fun?

The White River Marathon for Kenya is held in Cotter, AR, a small town just outside Mountain Home in the Ozarks.

“Wow! I’m really impressed that you’re going to run your first marathon in the mountains!”

It wasn’t quite that impressive – the course is flat as can be, with two out-and-backs along the river. Except for a steep downhill for the first 1200 meters, there is no elevation change to speak of. (No, we don’t even go back up that hill.)

It’s a small race – 700 people combined for the 5k, half marathon and full marathon. It was flat and fast, attracting those hoping to qualify for Boston. A friendly and low-key attitude appeals to ultra- and trail-runners who want a quick road race. And being relatively cheap with flexible registration and packet pickup attracts the 50-Staters and Marathon Maniacs.

Race day brought temperatures in the 30s and 14 mph winds – not the conditions we trained in! We were able to stay warm in the school cafeteria where the race had set up camp. A short walk to the starting line, a quick prayer and a not-so-quick rendition of the national anthem later, then we were off!

Leg 1: We headed down the hill (and I was passed by almost every. Single. Person.), but I did my best to maintain my very slow first mile pace. Made a few friends along the way, and was in high spirits and on pace, or just under, through the first turnaround.

Leg 2: I felt great and left the running buddy I had found. I realized I was a minute or two ahead of where I should be (time-wise, not pace-wise), but maintained my pace. Had a moment where I wondered if this would come back to bite me, but just kept going. I even had time to hit a port-a-potty, and still cruise into the half-way point a couple of minuets ahead of schedule.

Leg 3: half-marathoners finished, and I turned around to do it all again. I came across Kevin, who ran with me for a couple of minutes until my next walk break. When he turned back, I considered having a meltdown, and spent a couple of miles telling myself that the marathon is a stupid distance. I told myself I felt bad, so I did feel bad. I was concerned that the excess speed from the second leg had caught up with me, and was convinced I had blown my race.

Then I told myself I didn’t care. My first goal was to reach The Wall at mile 20 and feel good about being there. My mantra became “Trust the training. Follow the plan. Feel good at 20.” By this point, I was a minute and a half behind where I should have been at each mile marker, but starting to feel better.

Leg 4 (final leg!): just after the last turn around, I hit mile 20 and felt fine, but was ready to ditch my 8 ½ minute run/1 ½ minute walk routine (my legs were done with that particular running pace). I tried a 4/1 for a few intervals, but it wasn’t much better.

Finally, around mile 22 (still under where I should have been, according to my paceband), I decided to completely forget about my goal time, stop looking at my watch, and just finish and feel good. I started a form of fartleks, alternating short distances of faster runs and walks. I counted driveways and electric poles, doing anything I could to will myself to the finish line and be done. I wasn’t going to make my goal time, but I knew I would be happy with my finish.

Best of all, I passed at least a dozen people during the last 8 miles or so, but not a single person passed me. (Keep in mind that there were only 230 marathon finishers, so a dozen is a fair number of people.) These were all people who flew past me down the hill in the beginning. They weren’t looking so hot, but I felt great.  I even passed a woman with the .2 left! I was done, finally done.

The cherry on top? I somehow made up 4 ½ minutes in the last 4 miles and beat my goal time by 3 minutes.

Trust the training. Follow the plan. Feel good at 20.

Way to go, Anna!!  You showed incredible discipline and restraint and finished strong!  Perfect race!!  BIGGEST congrats on your awesome accomplishment!  I can’t wait to run this race next year.  Can you imagine if 20% of the field were Star Runners?!  Let’s do it!

San Antonio Marathon – Guest Blog

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Guest Post by Rebecca Cortese
It was not intended in God’s plans for me to run in “normal” conditions on race day. But then again, I never thought I would ever run a marathon!
This was my first ever marathon and I’m so happy I joined Star Runners 7 months ago to embark on this crazy journey.
Roughly 3 months prior to my race we had a long Saturday group run of 18 miles. It is a day that I will never forget because I hit a major wall due to the heat conditions (90 degrees) and only a few hours of sleep the night before (thanks a lot fire alarm!) It is also a day that prepared me more than I ever could have imagined for race day.
I arrived in San Antonio 2 days prior to race day and temperatures in the morning were averaging in the low 50/60s. Perfect! The temperature was a little higher on race morning, a humid 68. Still, I was pumped and raring to go and my family was there to cheer me on, including my sister who was 10 corrals ahead of me running the half.
I took off- the first 13 were amazing- I was averaging about 20 seconds ahead of each split, ensuring I had a slow enough start. It was when we split from the half runners at about mile 12 that I started to really feel awesome. I knew I was feeling great and was ahead of my time (thinking in my head) “Star must be so proud!” I also didn’t want to let my Star Running buds down- so good so far.
It was at about mile 18 that I really began to worry. I felt a MAJOR increase in temperature, not to mention there hadn’t been any shade since I passed mile 15 and I knew it was going to be all mental from this point on. I got to mile 20 and we entered this park that was paved and in wide open sunlight. I began to notice my surroundings- ambulance golf carts passing more frequently, more people walking than running, people camped out underneath what ounce of shade there was- underneath the interstate overpasses.
Mile 22 I walked a great bit. My body was sluggish and I found myself chugging Gatorade, water, and downing salt packs. During my extended walk break I passed a man that had to be in his 50s. He knew I wasn’t a happy camper- no one was at this point. He told me that this race was his 37th marathon and that by far this was the worst. Encouraging! I told him this was my first and he told me to keep going- to imagine myself crossing the finish line with a chocolate milk. I like this guy! I then took off- I thought about everyone rooting for me back home and at the finish line. I thought about the hot, humid day in Memphis when I hit the wall. I thought about Genna and Stephanie running that day with me and afterward telling me that if I could get through that day, I could get through anything. I thought about my husband who, on the day I hit the wall, walked the last 3 miles with me to my car just so I could finish. I CAN DO THIS! (I was saying his to myself out loud- talking to myself- anything to keep me going.)
I approached mile 25 and I knew I wanted to run the last one in. I turned to a lady next to me and asked her if we had crossed 25- she said yes, about a half mile ago- S#*%!! I took off and I made it to the .2 where I saw my family waiting (sweating) and cheering me on and I dug deep and sprinted to cross the finish line. Immediately I began to cry because I knew I hadn’t met my goal but then I realized- I finished. I. Finished. At the end of the day, that 110% meets my expectations because I accomplished what I never thought I could. Later that night I learned that within a span of 15 minutes the temperature had climbed 8 degrees to a staggering 89 (while I was around mile 20). I also learned that later in the day they were actually re-routing people to finish, cutting off 3 miles so that they wouldn’t be running any longer in the heat. They also moved the race to the first weekend in December for next year – I am going to run it again to prove to myself I can run a “normal” race.
Thank you to everyone in the group, especially my marathon training buds, the ones that kept me going through all of this- through blisters, tight legs, sweat, tears, and laughs- we did it! Most importantly thank you Star & Keith for supporting and teaching me to complete this race. You have made me the runner I’ve always wanted to be and for that I am forever grateful. Go Star Runners!
Isn’t it crazy to read this post about awful heat as we sit here waiting on an ice storm!  Rebecca, I could not be more proud.  You were the definition of perseverance.  Marathons are tough and marathons in unexpected heat are crazy tough.  You were awesome!!  You are awesome!

Guest Blog- Philadelphia Race Recap

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I hope y’all are enjoying these race recaps as much as I am!  All of you writing them, thank you!

Philadelphia Marathon Recap by Laura Beth Gabriel

Disclaimer: I’m normally not an overly sentimental person, but this article, much like a marathon, is a little emotional—especially towards the end J.

It is with sore legs and a full heart that I write this race recap.

My Philadelphia Marathon experience was not an uncommon one. My first half felt great, I started to lose steam around mile 18 or 19, and the last six were worse than a big, red beet on top of an ice cream sundae. I’ll let you know about the miles (you’re welcome), but I want to tell you about what was going on inside my head—because I think that’s what means the most during a marathon.

I started off with a rush of adrenaline (try starting off slowly while the Rocky theme song is playing) and a pace that was a bit on the fast side. I’m normally a slow and steady runner, but I was hoping to cross the finish line at 5:00, and I knew that every second mattered.

My first ten miles felt great. I kept my run pace at 10:30 or better (though not much better), and I tried to walk as quickly as I could on the walk “breaks”. The weather was cool and overcast, and I had Stephanie Molz beside me. Stephanie had just finished the Dublin Marathon a few weeks prior, and was dealing with some back pain, so we lost each other at a water stop around mile 14. I was on my own.

I hated losing Steph, but I know I wasn’t the best running buddy that day. I was watch-obsessed and not very talkative. This was a very different experience from my first marathon where I ran with a group and only wanted to cross that finish line. I had a goal, and though I knew I wanted to reach it, I didn’t realize just how much I wanted it until race day.

Miles 15 through 20 weren’t too bad, either. The route contained two out-and-backs, so in a span of five minutes, I saw both Matt (my husband) and Stephen Molz (Steph’s husband). As much as crowds help, nothing beats seeing a familiar face. Seeing them both still running strong perked me up and helped me maintain my 10:00-10:30 run pace.

Then I hit mile 20…

Around mile 20.5, a girl came up to me while I was on a walk break and said, “No! Don’t stop now! I’ve been following you for a while, and you can’t walk yet!” I explained that I wasn’t quitting, I was doing a run/walk, and she was intrigued. We talked for a while, which kept me occupied until mile 21. Thanks, random inquisitive stranger.

At mile 21, the dull aches and pains became…not dull. I hadn’t thought of a power word to get through moments like this, but I did see something at work that stayed with me for the entire marathon. 

I work for ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and, while I don’t work directly in the hospital, I’m over there a few times a day—because that’s where the food is. A few days before leaving for Philadelphia, I went across the street for coffee. Walking through a hallway toward the exit, I saw a patient using a small walker. His dad gently took the walker away, and the boy had a panicked look in his eyes. His dad nodded at him and said, “You can do this. Just a few steps.” The boy moved one foot in front of the other so slowly that you almost couldn’t tell he was moving. He cried out in pain with each step, but his Dad kept assuring him that he could move without the walker’s support. I thought about that boy the entire race, but I especially though of him those last six miles. As much as I was hurting, I was healthy. And, for that, I am thankful. For that, I run.

For those of you who don’t know, the last few miles of a marathon are as mentally tough as they are physically tough. I thought of the young patient, but I also thought of others. I thought of Star, cheering us on and tracking our splits via the internet, making our pace bands, wearing all of her clothes to stay warm while we did sprints on the high school track. Her dedication pushed me through those last miles. 

I thought of Stephanie, who would tell you that she felt negative during the race, but is always the most positive and encouraging running buddy and friend. Her friendship pushed me through those last miles.

I thought of my parents and in-laws, who were tracking our splits even though they couldn’t have told you what a running split was (a tricky gymnastic act?) before we started and were now enthusiasts— even though they probably thought we were a bit crazy. My family pushed me through those last miles.

I thought of the other Star Runners. Rebecca, who was braving the San Antonio heat in her marathon that very same day. The Star Runners got me through those last miles.

Mostly, I thought of Matt. After we got married, we decided to make a change. We began running a few miles, and those few miles led to a half-marathon, followed by a full-marathon. Thank you, Matt, for being my support system literally and metaphorically every step of the way. I’m so glad we’ve made this amazing journey together. You inspire me, and I love you. You pushed me through those last miles.

To sum this up, I did make my goal—4:58 and change. While the Philly finish line could use a boost of awesome, I still felt grateful. And thankful.

Awesome race, LB!!

40

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One of my favorite “you’re 40” gifts, sent to me from one of my athletes (i love it so much, i thought i’d share 🙂 ) : (and the picture above because they’re my favorite people to bring 40 in with!)

40 Reasons I Love My Coach, Star:

1.       She loves running and teaching people to run.

2.       She is a runner herself.

3.       She put in the hours and training it takes to be a certified coach.

4.       She labors over coaching her runners and works seven days a week to support us.

5.       She sits out in the cold when we run even though she hates it.

6.       She never asks us to run a route she wouldn’t do herself.

7.       She helped me PR the Cooper Young 4-miler, twice.

8.       She helped me PR the St. Jude Memphis ½ Marathon twice.

9.       She helped me PR the Rock n Roll New Orleans ½ Marathon.

10.   She, in short, has helped me PR every race I’ve run so far.

11.   She trained me all through my second pregnancy and helped me stay strong.

12.   She worries over those who struggle as a former social worker.

13.   She has spirit, and spunk and snark (things I appreciate).

14.   She believes in the power of cross training.

15.   She believes and teaches ANYONE can be a runner.

16.   She won’t ever let me quit or slack in any way.

17.   She gets up at the crack of dawn to coach us even though she hates mornings.

18.   She helps foster a community of runners.

19.   She fosters said community be taking ridiculous pictures of us in the dark in running gear and then makes and emails out a team roster.

20.   She emails us and beats us into liking each other for our own good (see above directory).

21.   She teaches us to believe in the uniqueness of every run and to respect every distance.

22.   She cultivates and appreciates strength and will highlight the power of an individual who achieves.

23.   She is a planner and follows through on every part of her promised plan.

24.   She speaks her truth…always.

25.   She obsesses about her runners…even following us online at races when not present.

26.   She pushes herself…learning to swim so as to better coach her triathletes.

27.   She brings her runners together… to drink…after they have earned those drinks.

28.   She answers emails and texts and calls even when we encourage her to ignore some.

29.   She married a runner and supports him fully.

30.   She beats safety into our heads for our own good.

31.   She freely shares tips and tricks and recommendations on all things needed to be a runner.

32.   She blogs to give us perspective, and encouragement and laughs.

33.   She is making Memphis a better, healthier place.

34.   She has impacted the health of countless lives.

35.   She is a passionate animal lover and encourages us all to be the same.

36.   She knows what is good for us even when we doubt ourselves.

37.   She pushes, but she also knows when to walk away.

38.   She passionately advocates for what she believes in and what makes us better.

39.   She is friends with her clients and truly cares about them.

40.   She taught me to be a passionate runner when I never thought I could be one.

GOALS

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Goal by definition is 1. The purpose toward which an endeavor is directed; an objective. 2. Something that you are trying to do or achieve

Nowhere in the definition of GOAL does it say that it is a guarantee.  It is something you are working towards, something that gives your training purpose but it is not a guarantee.

I believe in goals and place a lot of emphasis on goals, not only in my running life but in my life in general. I believe this is what motivates us as people.  Thomas Carlyle’s famous quote, “A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder”, is one of my favorite.  Not all of my goals are epic and life shattering but they’re still goals.  They keep me moving in a positive direction.

I have found that with running you must have a goal.  It sets the stage for your training.  It gives you something to reach for and gives you purpose on days you don’t want to train.  It keeps you moving forward.   “The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get, ” says Jim Rohn.  Having a goal teaches you discipline and sacrifice.  Goals teach you about yourself.

I have come across a few scenarios in my profession in which I feel people are really missing the point of having a goal:

1) “I raced but didn’t get my goal…(so I failed) or (my training didn’t work)” – Goals are not guaranteed and a missed goal doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard or train properly.  Goals should be tough to attain.  That means it’s a good goal.  That means it is something you have had to work hard to either attain or get near.  If you know that you put in 100% during training and 100% on race day, you just have to know that some days simply aren’t your day.

2) “I may not race (or I may quit mid-race) because I don’t think I can get my goal” – What?!  You’ll certainly never get it if you don’t try. This is one that drives me nuts.  Many professional runners will begin a race and if the race starts to slip from them, they’ll bail.  I get it when they are battling an injury and they have their career on the line but I don’t get it one bit when it’s about ego.  I know people who aren’t professional runners who live by this same attitude….”i’ve gotten behind, my goal is out of reach, i’m not about to walk it in…i’ll just quit”.

These people are absolutely missing the journey of the goal.  Why throw away months of training to let a little ego get in the way.

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” Bruce Lee

“Glory lies in the attempt to reach one’s goal and not in reaching it.” Mahatma Gandhi

I have probably missed as many goals over the past 12 or so years as I have met.  Having tough goals had made me a better runner and the journey to attain these goals has made me a better person.  I missed my most recent race goal by 19 seconds.  I never once thought about quitting and I certainly don’t blame my training.  I worked my tail off and I know I didn’t leave 19 seconds on that course so while I can’t say I achieved my goal that day, I can say I had the best race I could have possibly had.

One of my favorite runners of all time is Meb Keflezighi and he set the greatest example in the most recent NY Marathon.  Meb isn’t a runner like the rest of us are runners.  He is an Olympian, a front runner, a contender at the largest of the large races, and among the fastest American runner to ever represent the US.  He showed up to run the 2013 NY Marathon and at mile 19.3, he said he could not run a step further.  I can imagine the overwhelming majority of professional runners and a good number of rookie runners would have stopped all together.  Instead he chose to walk it in. What an amazing display of realizing that some days there’s more to racing than hitting a PR or getting your goal.  Sometimes it’s just about the journey.

Take a moment to watch this short video with Meb.  If you’re not already a fan, you will be. http://www.flotrack.org/coverage/250963-New-York-City-Marathon-2013/video/723689-Emotional-Meb-Keflezighi-after-NYC-Marathon-2013

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