Beyond Disappointment Runs Hope

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” – J. Rohn

How many times in life have you had to deal with things either not going the way you planned or not turning out the way you had hoped it would. If you ask me, too often. In the typical everyday scheme of things, life seems to be full of disappointments; from unemployment to sickness to death, it can be overwhelming and downright depressing at times. Add the running dynamic and things get a bit more dicey. Not only do you have to deal with life’s everyday disappointments, but now you have those that come along with the sport as well. How do we do it?

At the beginning of the year, I made a list. Remember those new year resolutions/ goals..yep those, well mine were particular to running and on there were a few pertaining to achieving new times and running new races. Mainly , I wanted to qualify for Boston next year, by which I mean run Boston next year, and frankly though I knew they weren’t interchangeable, I really didn’t consider not getting in if I qualified. You guys know what happened with that – major disappointment. But I survived, had to live to run another day right? In any event, I’m thinking… Ok, I still have Denver, my fun, exploratory run, which I’ve been looking forward to for sometime now, only now it’s also not happening. After much thought and strategizing, it seems more prudent to run a marathon that will allow me to re qualify, which is what I must do to run Boston 2016. Dreams of high-altitude (not really), rolling hills, fresh air, scenic route, adventure, and meeting new runners aside, I must now channel and redirect that energy and enthusiasm to achieve a bigger dream.

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Disappointment, I accept as a part of life. As a part of my running life, I find it a bit harder to manage – but manage I must. There is no where one can hide really. No runner plans on injury before a race after training so hard for so long, or on not finishing or qualifying or making the cut. Or what about falling sick, having a bad race or race cancellation (as was the case with the ING NYC Marathon 2012). These are not plans a runner makes, on the contrary, we do everything within out power to ensure we have the opportunity for a successful race: we train long and hard, sacrifice time, money, energy and give up so many things to make our dream happen, and to be honest, it happens as often as it doesn’t. So really 50/50 is not so bad but the over-achiever in me wants a higher percentage in my favor.

The key to overcoming and managing your disappointments, come as they must, lies in your perspective and in your hands. You see, our ability to choose what we do with what happens to us or even around us will ultimately determine our attitude and shape our actions. Choosing to put a positive spin on things, to see the light at the end of the tunnel, to take the good and leave the bad is a choice we have. This choice can either absorb us or absolve us, it can either makes us or break us, destroy us or build us. We get to choose. Each time I am faced with disappointment, I choose hope; I choose to motivate myself to try harder, to run faster, to be more diligent and more determined. It works for me.

The Philadelphia Marathon comes up on November 23, it’s my next hope for Boston 2016, where I hope to qualify with a faster time than before. I hear it’s a fast and pretty flat course, there should be some advantage to that. The weather will also be much colder, hopefully more cool than cold, but this is my reply when disappointment comes, I plan another race, I train a little harder, and mentally prepare myself to achieve what is inevitably a tougher goal the second time around. I never give up. Quitting is never an option.

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Fall In Love with Running this Fall

imageI am the eternal optimist. Let me tell you right off that I haven’t always been this way; times past, I have been quite the critique and complainer, what some people call.. high-maintenance, but a couple of years ago I made an important discovery.. my Aha moment if you will. I figured life is full of disappointments and dread but juxtaposed to this is its wonderful surprises and beautiful things.. depends on who’s looking and from where; remember my “perspective is everything” mantra? You see, battling disappointments can be a consuming past-time, who has time for that, so I decided to lean on the side of beautiful things as I really don’t have time for much else. Fast forward today and finding out yesterday that I missed the cut off 1:02 under qualifying mark for Boston 2015 by 22 seconds.

After the initial dread and tears which lasted a few minutes, I cannot allow for days as others who’ve described their past experiences, I smiled. Because I’m proud of me. Proud that I qualified within my first year of trying and that I came so close. While I’m in solidarity with the 1,946 other qualifiers who didn’t get in, I have so much hope for next year. Now to be honest, it is no easy feat to qualify: the sacrifice, commitment and hard work, that went into doing so is a testament to running excellence and is reason enough to be proud of your achievement. For some though, it might be impossible to do so again.. It is for those that my heart goes out; that you will never know the reward of your effort. May it be enough that you qualified. For others like myself, we know that runners never quit. It is the indelible spirit that unifies us, that we will train harder, run faster, do better and we will RUN BOSTON.

So tears aside, the race goes on and there are some great races all over the country to choose from if you’re going ahead with trying for Boston 2016 right away. Just so you know, the qualifying window opened last week, so all qualifying races that you run from here on until next year can count. I’m playing around with ideas such as Philly, New Jersey, Marine Corps DC or Anthem Richmond Marathon; all in beautiful Fall and with good courses to do a fast time. Whichever you choose, don’t forget to make sure it’s a qualifier.

The best things about running in the Fall season is nature and its transforming beauty. I heart its colorful changes, musicality and cool sunshine. And I get to do it from beautiful New York, oftentimes, in lovely Central Park. Therefore, it was only fitting that I ushered in the season with a 12 mile exhilarating run there two days ago. I felt so buoyant, so hopeful, so filled with wonder then and even now. I hold on to that, not allowing the disappointment of yesterday to steal my joy in today and in the promise of some beautiful Fall runs.

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The Miami (Famous) Marathon

I review this race with mixed feelings; excitement, disappointment, heart and some regret, but with a pretty cool medal! 

IMG_4193I think I have a lot to learn about races, expectations, course differences, weather inhibitions and a host of other tiny seemingly unimportant details that are in reality super important, so don’t judge me too harshly as I already did. Plus, this was just my second marathon.

In all fairness the race wasn’t bad, but it was long, hard on my foot and quite warm.  I’m careful not to say hot, as I had feared it would be much hotter than it actually was.  Somehow it was 78 degrees and not breathing fire and gosh, was I ever so thankful.  Heat aside, I had major shoe issues with my right foot.  You would think the injury right? Wrong.  I made sure to wrap my ankle, wore my ankle sleeve and heel inserts to take care of my still-recovering injury but went and added insult to injury by running in a pair of sneakers I had never run a full marathon in.  After mile 13, every right step felt like I was stepping on a sharp object, by mile 18 I was super ready to remove said sneaker and run bare-footed.  I held off only because I didn’t want to spend time, better spent running, taking my shoe off.  I shouldn’t have minded that, as I pretty much ended up walking when it became near impossible to run the last few miles and I had to run-walk to the finish line.  My bad, my fault.  As with New York, I had such high hopes for this marathon as it was so scenic and a new course too; I should have been in my element and ace it. On the other hand, I have a pet peeve with running prolonged stretches without variation.  This race had quite a few of those, which of course was made worse by my shoe aggravation and the heat.  Nevertheless, help came in the outpouring of love and support from those cheering on along the route and those who handed out fruit, power bars, wet rags, ices and had their personal spray stations going on, these are the people who make my run possible and worthwhile.  It’s the essence of running that I’ll always appreciate and love; people coming together in recognition and support of and to encourage those who step out and take a chance at something great.  Then there was the brief but timely, just-like-God, shower, which couldn’t hurt and cooled things down some.  We, on mile 21, were thankful.  But if I was feeling sorry for myself, it all ran away, when I got within the last 100 meters and had the opportunity to help a fellow runner complete his last steps to the finish to claim his medal and me mine.

I promise you, not a day goes by that I don’t learn something and as it turns out there were a lot of lessons learnt that day. Lessons that I’ll take with me on my next race, The Rock and Roll DC Marathon, next month. You see my eye is still on the prize: Boston 2015.

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