There is a book I read to my daughter sometimes called, “The Most Magnificent Thing.” The gist is there is a little girl who decides she is going to build the most magnificent thing, but each time she tries, it’s not quite perfect and she gets more and more frustrated. Finally she explodes because it isn’t working out how she wanted it to…and I see a little bit of myself in that tiny little cartoon control freak.
My most magnificent thing was my summer running challenge, #100milesummer. I ran a mile every day for 100 days starting on Memorial Day and ending today. In that time period, I ran a total of 135 miles. I improved my time from a starting pace of 13:18 per mile, to an average of 10:20 a mile with a PR of 9:54. I ran outside, on treadmills, at the gym, at the track, on a boat, and in a foreign country. I ran in the dark in the morning and in the dark late at night. During my lunch breaks, after work, in between activities. I ran in the rain, through sprinklers and in 80% humidity. In the 100 days, I battled shin splits, back spasms, a very weird mid-summer mystery flu, bronchitis (what the hell is wrong with my health y’all?!) and foot numbness. I even overcame the dumbest injury ever of dropping a ceramic bowl on my foot and slicing it open in an ill-advised midnight snack attempt. But I ran. I ran every day.
Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking I would get out of this when I started, but here are the things I learned.
Perfection is not attainable.
I set parameters when I started that I wouldn’t walk at all. All running, no excuses. So when I had to stop because my calves cramped or I needed to catch my breath, I felt I had failed. I had let myself down. I was not strong enough. I was incredibly hard on myself. It took the mystery illness on the 43rd day for me to give myself a break. My whole body ached and I vacillated between freezing and burning up. It felt like the worst hangover ever without any fun drinks or loud stories to go along with it. I dragged myself up to the treadmill and just did the best I could. And sometimes the best you can is enough. I walked more than I ran, but I did run. And as soon as my watch buzzed one mile, I was back to my den of misery.
On tonight’s last run, I really wanted to get my fastest time. I didn’t get there. I ran a 10:13 mile and felt a twang of disappointment, but then reminded myself that I had just run a mile for the 100th damn day in a row, so suck it self doubt.
Accountability is key.
While almost every run was done solo, I did have a partner in this thing. My husband agreed from the beginning to run every day too. Due to schedules and kids, we rarely ran together. For what it is worth, shout out to the super fit/annoying moms who run with jogging strollers on the reg. That is way more work than I signed up for. Every single time I wanted to quit he wouldn’t let me. Sometimes he served as a real chipper annoying guy who smiled and pushed me out the door or pushed me up the stairs to the treadmill. Other times he let me lament, stew, storm off and come around to it on my own (do I sound like the best person to live with or what?!). While I have a lot of self-motivation, I have moments of weakness just like everyone else. I need to be pushed. He pushed every time I needed it. It made me love/hate him more.
And to be perfectly honest, because I stupidly announced this challenge on this blog and on my Facebook page, I felt a sense of pride to keep going. I’m probably too proud for my own good, but I do not want to be seen as a quitter. I think pride is one of the seven deadly sins, but I’m not positive. I never finished the movie, but I think Brad Pitt did not like something in a box, the details are murky. Anyway, pride may be a sin, but it is also a hell of a motivator.
There’s No Excuse for That.
I see the excuse, “life happened” written all the time. It is weak. Yes, life does happen. But it is 100% your choice what YOU do with the aftermath. Sleeping in, skipping a workout, indulging in drink or food, walking when you should be running…all of those are choices. I tried to quit no less than 30 times. And I had at least 20, “Pull yourself together” talks with myself. But the ability to do it was always there. Always.
I’m so far from the epitome of health. I have so much further to go. But I made the choice to carve out time dedicated to my health every day for 100 straight days. It takes planning and manuevering and sacrifices, but it is easily doable.
So, what’s next?
I have no idea. None. For the last several weeks, I’ve had the running commentary with Husband that I had x-number of days left and “then I’ll never run again!” And he very judgy-like would say, “That’s not the goal of this.” Whatever Motivational Maury, I do what I want!
But I did have a friend ask me recently, “So what are you going to do with this?” And I don’t know. I want to set a goal of a half marathon to do in honor of my best friend who died. It’s a scary endeavor, but I feel like I owe it to her. After she got her bone marrow transplant, she told me once she was well she was going to run a half marathon. I promised her I’d do it with her. We talked about Phoenix. Oklahoma City. Austin. San Diego. Her response was, “Why don’t we do them all? Why limit ourselves?”
And you know what? Maybe that was the purpose of all of this. Why limit yourself when you are so much more capable than you ever imagined.
Reaching this goal really was the most magnificent thing.