As I crossed the finish line, I knew it was over. Not just the end of a 26.2 mile journey, but the end of a quest for an elusive goal that I had been pursuing for what seemed like eternity. I checked my watch and realized that I had accomplished my goal of a personal best in the marathon as well as a time that would qualify me to register for one of the most prestigious and historical marathon races in the nation – The Boston Marathon!
I am still trying to comprehend the significance of accomplishing this major goal that has been a pursuit for me for several years. When I survey the years of struggle and successes, my mind immediately is drawn to the journey to get here. Training for a marathon requires a lot of time and investment both mentally and physically. The journey is filled with success and setbacks. There are moments of elation and excitement coupled with anxiety and angst. There have been times where everything went right in my training only to be faced with adverse weather conditions on race day. There have also been years where injuries popped up at the most inopportune time, and I had to run with an injury and persevere to the finish line only to find out I came up a few seconds short of the goal.
For this Fall and Winter racing season, everything came together to be one of my best racing seasons yet! As I have grown older, I feel blessed to have become faster and, hopefully, somewhat wiser in how to approach this journey and quest of attacking the marathon distance and attaining a Boston Qualifier (BQ). Any goal worth accomplishing will always demand persistence and resiliency, and I feel like this journey demanded my absolute best when things were going well and when things took a turn I did not expect.
As you think about the goals you have set for yourself this year, make it a focus area to learn from the journey to get there. Because of my past “so-called failures,” or falling short of accomplishing this BQ goal, I learned so much – about things to do and what not to repeat – and finally put it into practice. That is why the journey is so important. It can teach us things about ourselves and helps reveal our identity and true strength. The journey helps us to understand processes, habits, techniques, and tactics that allow us to perform at our best. The journey also makes us appreciate the people along the way who help us maximize our potential and achieve our goals.
The journey is helpful only when we become aware of it and engage in it wholeheartedly. The pursuit of any goal can become all about the goal and dismissive of the process to get there. When we do that, we miss the moment to grow, develop, and, ultimately, help others to achieve this same goal. We forget what got us here and do not leverage it to help us grow and improve.
At the end of the day, I am incredibly excited about achieving a BQ and the possibility of running in the Boston Marathon. As elated as I am about accomplishing this goal, I am just as thrilled with the journey of the Fall racing season, accomplishing 4 PRs and some age group placements in warm-up races, and finally putting into practice all that I have learned about training, recovery, nutrition, and taking care of my body. In a future blog post, I will outline some things that I did and that were extremely helpful to me to accomplish this goal.
For now, my challenge and encouragement to you is be present in the journey of this current moment as you pursue meaningful goals this year and beyond. Don’t forsake the journey to accomplish your goal. Embrace and engage in the process to become your best!