I am entering my last week of training for a half marathon. About a year ago, I decided that taking on this endeavor would be good for me. Good for my body, good for my soul, good for my psyche. In four short days, I will hop in the car and drive to the beautiful town of Carlsbad, California and participate in the Tri-City Half Marathon. I have been training really, really hard. In fact, I think that this is the hardest I have ever worked on any goal in my entire life. It is certainly the most active I have been in my adult life. I downloaded a plan that I put on my refrigerator so that I could see my progress. I checked off each day as I went. I did the short runs, I did the long runs, I did the cross training. I did active recovery with my trainer each Sunday instead of taking a total rest day. I upped my water intake, I watched what I was eating so that I could properly fuel my body. I did research on hydration chews to help me have energy, I talked to endurance athletes and running coaches.
I did all of the things.
I did everything right.
And, I am going to fail.
I am still going to participate. I will complete the race by crossing the finish line by foot, but I am going to fail. As hard as I have worked and as much effort as I have put into this process, I am still not at the place where I can actually run a half-marathon. I can walk and run it, sure, but my goal was to run the race and I will not live up to that expectation.
And that is totally okay.
We live in a world who believes that failure is a bad thing. Or, at least for ourselves it is a bad thing. When the people that care about me read this, they will think to themselves “Jessica, it is okay,” “you have worked so hard and that is worth something,” “all that matters is that you try” or something similar. Right? That is probably what you are thinking right now, even if you don’t know me. Especially for something as massive as trying to go from never running further than a mile to a freaking half marathon, right? But we don’t usually give ourselves the same grace that we give others when we fail. Because we have decided that failing makes us less than. But that is not the case. The process of setting a goal and working towards it has so much value and there is GROWTH in every failure. It is the failure that makes us human and it is the growth that makes us uniquely us.
And I learned some lessons in this failure. Both about myself and my worth as well as my ability.
- My body can do so much more than I ever realized. I have never been a “runner.” And I always thought that it would be impossible for me to be one. Even when I was younger and was participating in track and field, it was always as a thrower. I thought it was necessary to have a lean, gazelle like figure to be a runner. But you don’t have to look any particular way. My body can do it, too. I just have to start. And guess what? When you run three times a week-you are a runner.
- I have the ability to set a goal and stick to it. I have been training for this for a loooooong time. Never in my life have I stuck to something (besides school) that required me to dedicate time on a regular basis without an immediate result. But here I stand, one year later, still working at it. And you know what, I will probably keep trying after this race is done.
- I don’t hate running. Don’t tell anybody I said this, but I almost like it. Not that I get great joy out of pounding the pavement, but I do enjoy the time for me. I do enjoy the endorphins that are created. I do enjoy the routine of getting up each morning and having something tangible to complete that serves my relationship with myself.
- Podcasts are awesome. Seriously, I never listened to one podcast before I started training for this half marathon and now, I am OBSESSED. So much so that I have even started my own podcast! I always thought that running without music would be miserable because everyone I know runs with music, but I have learned that music does not help me. In fact, it prompts me to run faster than I should (dang that beat) when trying to go a far distance and tires me out-which is actually counter productive for what I am trying to do. So, I tried podcasts and am now enamored.
- What works for other people does not have to work for me and vice versa. As with number 4, I had assumed that because other people run with music, that I had to as well. But that did not work for me. And my friend who has run distance for most of her life? Can’t run with podcasts. And we are both totally allowed to do what works for us.
- It is okay for me to spend money on myself. During this process, I dropped some change on a nice pair of running shoes and some quality work out gear. And it seriously made more of a difference than I ever realized. I, like so many others, am always looking for the deal and will buy a less quality thing if it is half the price even though I know that it will probably not last as long. In this process, I bit the bullet and spent some money and I am so glad that I did because it made the process so much more enjoyable-and I am worth that.
So, this Sunday, I am going to slide on my super expensive running tights, lace up my super expensive running shoes and get my self to the starting line at the crack of dawn as the sun rises over the ocean. A really long time after that, I will fail my way across the finish line. I hear that the reward is a banana and a Gatorade (although your girl is celebrating with pizza afterwards) but the real reward is different. The real reward is the growth that has occurred in my relationship with myself over the course of the last year. With each step, I have gotten myself closer to all of my goals even if the ultimate result of this race is that I am the last one to cross the finish line. Probably while they are taking down the banners and cleaning up after everyone who finishes before me (please make sure you save me a banana!)
I am going to fail. But I am going to try any way.