Sure you got there, but did you earn it? (9-16-2013)

My half marathon date is about 5 weeks away, and due to the unforeseen circumstances of my last two weeks, I’m not where I should be in my training. I am, however, much more prepared this time than I was prior to my first one.

It may come as a surprise to most of you, but my goal for this half marathon is not to beat my first time. My goal has nothing to do with my time. Actually, my goal has nothing to do with the race day itself.

This half marathon is different for me. When I signed up for the first, it was a challenge I took on with a friend. It was “for me” in a sense, but I was motivated in part by having a co-conspirator. In the end, I ran the race alone, but that’s not how I set out. This time, however, it’s just me-or at least it was when I signed up. I researched, selected, and signed up for this half marathon on my own and for myself. So last time I began with a partner and finished alone, and this time I began alone and hope to finish with a friend.

My first half marathon was about the finish line. My goal was completion. Come hell or high water I told myself I would finish. This race is about the journey. I now know I can physically, mentally, and emotionally drive myself to complete a half marathon because I already did. The first time I cheated myself though. I didn’t train like I planned. I let preparation slide and lost sight of the race being a priority. My goal slipped away from me as the race day drew nearer.

I think it can be really easy to get caught up in the moment and lose sight of what drives you and what you’re working towards. I let other priorities come first and they weren’t bad ones (school, research, friends, sleep), but the priorities I chose did not set me up for success in this particular goal. Don’t get me wrong–on race day I could not have been more proud of myself for finishing, but in the pit of my stomach was this sense that I had not “earned” it. Sure, that day I tore myself inside out and dug deep and by sheer will power alone, I drove myself to the finish. I earned it that day, but I did not earn it with my preparation.

So that was and is my goal this time: the journey. I want to transform my life to focus this as a priority. This time I want my body to be prepared for the trial, and to not just finish the race, but rather earn that finish line. I have had my setbacks, and I’m still not where I had planned to be, but this time I have pushed my body and mind to a whole new level. This time rather than the race day shaping me, the journey has.
I guess if I really think about it, that’s how goals should work. They should be a journey. If you can reach a goal without changing, adjusting, learning or growing–without a “journey”– then what did you really accomplish? We should still set those goals. As I said previously, they help drive us in ways we can’t even understand. But maybe instead of only focusing on that finish line, we should pay more attention to the road we run to get there. I feel confident when October 20th rolls around that somehow, someway I will cross that finish line, but more important to me is the fact that as I run through that archway, I know that this time I earned it. With my hours, miles, sweat, tears, asthma, allergies, humidity, heat and sore achey muscles—I will have earned the right to finish this half marathon.

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