Thursday, March 24, 2016

BHAG Update : Letting Go of a Goal, Self-Worth, and Redefining

Planning. Goal setting. Taking action.  Pushing boundaries.  This is what I do, pretty much all day every day.  This drive is in my DNA.  Back in late October I wrote a post declaring my Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  I wanted to compete in a 12 hour trail race in June, and I wanted to put in a performance that would put me in the top 5 women in the history of that specific race.  I was committed, passionate, declared my intention, and moved forward exactly according to plan.

Phase 1 was literally flawless – I got to the point of 20 milers feeling very comfortable, no muscle strains, no burn out, no tightness, just fluid movement that was highly enjoyable.  Phase two of training started on a good note with added speed work and continued strength building in the 20+ mile range.   Things were great…. Until they weren’t.   A cold turned into a lung infection, which turned into 9 days in a row of fevers, and ended in walking pneumonia. 

At this point, I’m down three and a half weeks from training, and am restricted for at least another 2.  That’s almost 6 consecutive weeks taken out of the meatiest part of my training plan.  My intention was to be a contender for the top spot in my race.  Looking at my current situation, and my other running goals later in the year, I have made the wise choice.  To pull out of the 12 hour event. 

It literally didn’t even occur to me until yesterday afternoon that this may happen.  My blind faith and trust in my body and training kept me unwavering mentally, until I saw my lung x-rays.  Apparently lung infections aren’t something to be fucked with, and strong willed me can’t even force it to clear up any faster.  Seemingly, I do in fact have limitations. 

The 45 minutes following this realization weren’t pretty.  I was thinking things like ‘Now what?  Who am I if I’m not thriving inside the structure of a training plan?  How do I define myself now?  Am I now considered ‘basic’?  Will my crew be disappointed?  I invested months into this already – how do I let that go?  Who the hell am I if I’m not striving for running greatness and making it look fun?’ 

I’m glad I gave myself a window of time to brood, be pissed off, and ask the deep dark questions of myself that most people don’t say in the light of day.  I realized how closely I tied my identity and self-worth to my running.  I realized how much I like to be in the role of running super achiever. 

Why run Ragnar with 12 people when you can do it with....3?
The danger is that running is something that can be taken away in an instant – because of a health issue, injury, accident – anything.  Running isn’t who I am, it’s just one of the things I do.  One of the many things.  I couldn’t see that clearly when I was reacting to the hard decision I made, I just knew I was intensely disappointed.  I felt like I had just broken up with someone I still really liked.
After having a night to sleep on it, and waking up with a clear head, I’m at peace with my decision.  I know it’s the best thing big picture.  I may not be able to run 20 milers right now, but here’s what I CAN do.  Run every other day, work on strength training and flexibility.  I can focus on my next goal, which is helping pace a friend at the Western States 100 June 24th and 25th.  I can study the course, encourage my friend in his training, and allow myself the rest I need to be 100% again.

And most importantly, I can work on identifying myself as more than just a runner.   Identify and honor those things that truly define me. Not get caught up associating my self-worth with the activities I participate in.  The miles I run don’t make me a good person, they don’t change the world, they don’t make a person feel loved, and they’re not my last thought at night when I think about what really went right that day. 

Thanks dear friends for all the kind words I’ve received – you all clearly know how important my running and training is to me.  And thanks to this adversity I am reminded that though I love to run, I’m not just a runner.  I’m a dreamer. A lover. A giver. A creative. An athlete. A thinker. A leader.  And a student.    


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