I recently ran 50 miles for the time at the Antelope Canyon UltraMarathon. It was an amazing accomplishment and I am immensely proud of myself. As I reflect on this latest accomplish, I can’t help but turn back time to the first time I ran 4 miles where the dreams of being a long distance runner all began.
I was living in Clarksville, TN and I had been going out for 2-3 mile runs pretty regularly. The moment I decided I wanted to start going longer, the idea of going farther than 3 miles was daunting and terrifying. But I wouldn’t be deterred and I went out for one of my regular 3 mile routes. When I got back to the beginning, I shot down a different road to add another mile. I felt determined.
As I turned down the road, two old ladies walking their Pekingese were coming straight at me. I swerved and ducked around them and the yappy little dog. They called out, “Great job, how far are you running?”
I sang back, “I’m going on my fourth mile!! Can you believe it?”
These ladies didn’t know me from Eve. There was no reference for them to either believe or not believe that I was capable of this monumental feat. But I wasn’t speaking to them, was I? I was telling myself, proud and out loud, to make sure that I knew, beyond a doubt, that I was capable of such a feat. That fourth mile was a door that I busted open to greater possibilities.
The significance of this moment rises to the ranks of my wedding day, the birth of my children, and completing a 50 mile race.
At that time, 4 miles was epic, almost beyond comprehension. Today, 4 miles is as easy as walking to the mailbox. I have to push myself to new heights and new challenges to get that same sense of pride and accomplishment. But as I conquer new feats, I am grounded in the understanding that it all began with a single step and the courage to conquer a fear.
The courage to put on running shoes and step out for the time – I was terrified I couldn’t do it, but I did it anyway.
The courage to go to a running store to purchase running shoes – I was terrified they would laugh at the newbie, but I did it anyway.
The courage to register for a race – I was terrified I would be a laughingstock, but I did it anyway.
The courage to show up for a group run with strangers – I was terrified no one would talk to me or run with me and that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but I did it anyway.
Each time I had the courage to overcome a fear has brought me one step closer to where I am today. And it gives me the foundation to know that each time I face a new fear I have within me the courage to do it anyway.
Gary “Laz” Cantrell, infamous Barkley Marathons race director said, “If you are going to face a real challenge, it has to be a real challenge. You can’t possibly accomplish anything without the possibility of failure”.
Once upon a time, I took a risk to give running a try knowing that I could fail. Today it is longer and longer runs, running with stronger and stronger runners and most recently going to the gym to do strength training – but I seek out those things that scare me, the places I am vulnerable and try them anyways. Through these actions, I have proven to myself I am stronger than my fears, stronger than my depression, stronger that I realized. I surprise myself time and again and my goal is to keep surprising myself for a long time to come.
What are you afraid of doing for fear of failure? Whatever your answer…..put that at the top of your to-do list! The journey continues…..