Yep, I’ll admit it. I’m one of those OCD Perfectionists that enjoys writing something on a to-do list AFTER it’s been already completed just so I can scratch it off. What can I say, I like having visual credit of my accomplishments and I want the satisfaction of marking it off.
This year has been the year of unplanned accomplishments; it’s been one right after the other. But the funny thing is that I am the biggest planner you will meet; I don’t make a lot of decisions on a whim. There are pro/con lists and lots of research and preparation and hard work to make things happen. But as I wrote about earlier in the year, the best things in life happen unexpectedly.
This past weekend I ran a half marathon. It was not planned. I wrote about my fitness goals this year, here. Running a half-marathon was not on the list.
My goals for 2016 were about enjoying the journey and not focusing on PRs (it’s been a pretty great journey so far). Then somehow I did an 8 mile run (my long runs are only 5 miles) and I finished at a PR pace. It felt good; it felt right; it was easy. A couple of weeks later I did a 10 mile at the same pace. To be honest I don’t know how it happened. I had taken off an entire minute per mile for these runs. I figured it would be nice to see how another half marathon would go and I signed up.
Let’s rewind for a second and talk about my past race experiences. In 2011 I ran my first half. My goal was 2.5 hours and I finished 2:29:36, just under my goal. I swore I would never run another long distance race again (lie #1). Fast forward to 2.5 years later and I ran a full marathon in 2013. My goal was 5 hours and I came in just over at 5:03. Again I swore I would never run another long distance race (lie #2).
So here I am 3 years later, almost right on schedule, doing a long distance race. But this time it’s different. This time my mind had already been stretched to the idea that I can run 13.1 miles. This time I’d not trained/prepared nearly as much as I had for the prior races. This time I wasn’t really stressed, until the night before. I went to bed at 9pm but I couldn’t sleep. I was nervous I was going to get lost on the route. The race was only in its second year and was still operating in a grass roots stage. There were maps that were handed out at each check point, but I was incredibly nervous that I was going to spend more time trying to find my way than running.
It was pretty flipping cold at the start of the race, but I’d rather be cold than hot. I started out wicked fast. I hate running in crowds of people and wanted to separate myself from the herd of people. That probably wasn’t the best thing to do, because I ran into some breathing problems early on. There were plenty of volunteers at each turn to guide the runners. My fear of getting lost was quickly diminished.
There were two separate parts of the course that went through the Cary Greenway. The first part on the greenway wasn’t too bad. I’ve ran through that part of the Bond Park before. The second part was on the western part of Cary, near 540. I was not familiar with that part of the greenway. It felt like that part of the race was never going to end. I think it was from about mile 9-12 that we were on the greenway, but there were no mile markers the entire race. This is the first time I’ve run a long distance blind like that.
My goal was to break the 2 hour mark. That didn’t happen. BUT I did finish 11 minutes faster than the last time I ran a half marathon. It was nice to not be stressed about a race this time. It was nice to enjoy the journey and train some. I feel like Crossfit has made me a better runner. My legs don’t get as sore/tired after a long run compared to an intense Crossfit workout. Crossfit has definitely helped my endurance. I don’t know how else to explain the increased speed on my training runs.
So what has this year of unplanned successful adventures taught me? It’s taught me a lot, but I still don’t know how to be someone who doesn’t plan, who doesn’t bust their ass to achieve a goal, who doesn’t put everything they have into going after something? I don’t know, because it’s the COMPLETE opposite of my personality. How you find the balance to just let shit happen? I don’t know. Because I DO know you don’t get anywhere sitting on your ass wishing and hoping certain things would happen. It’s unbelievable how the things that aren’t on your radar, that aren’t on your to-do list, creep into your life and magically unfold. At the same time it’s unbelievable how some things you dedicate countless time and effort to, and you’re left with nada……
I can tell you I’m not a sit back and let shit happen, kinda girl. It’s just not who I am. I’m a direct, blunt, go after what you want, ask the question, kinda girl. I’d rather get a “no” answer and know that it’s not for lack of trying if something doesn’t work out. So although I’ve found more balance in my life, and I can appreciate the journey more than I use to, I’m still busting my ass on my goals in life. But I’m finding time to tackle the unexpected opportunities that coming knocking on the door.