Finding Success and Joy Through, Failure?

A couple days before Memorial Day 2013 a challenge was put together. It was simple, log 100 running miles between Memorial Day and Labor Day. If you do not meet the mark, you get to choose your favorite charity and make a donation.

I was a bit remiss at first. I had run many times before but 4 miles was the longest, I knew I would have to push past 4 in order to get this done.

It started off well, I got in some miles here and there and started seeing major achievements broken. I use Runkeeper to track all of my runs and it would tell me after each one how I was breaking PR’s such as distance in a week, distance in a month, elevation PR’s, calories burned, etc. I was super pumped and thought I would be able to crack the 100 mile mark.

Here I am though, on the last day and alas, I am at a couple feet shy of 70 miles. I knew over the past couple of days it was going to be impossible for me to make the achievement. I went so far as to map out what I would need to do.

On August 18th I had done my longest run to date, 7.85 miles! It took me roughly 1 hour and 43 minutes. It was a rough run to say the least, but I pounded it out. I was sweaty, drained, my legs felt like lead for days afterward, but I thought for sure at that point I had this challenge on the ropes.

Back to mapping out my impossible success. I would have to do two 18.86 mile runs, back to back. Not the same day, but one on Sunday and the other Monday. Again, up until this I had run just shy of 8 miles at a clip, so doubling that and then some created some serious doubt, and I knew I was not going to make it.

I got down on myself Saturday night, really down. I felt like a loser. I felt like an utter and complete failure. I had accepted this challenge and should have been able to finish it!! I felt like I was letting down everyone that was cheering me on the whole way.

Then I realized why I had accepted this challenge in the first place, and that was to challenge myself. When I look at the stats on RunKeeper since I started using it, which was September of 2011, I see a total of 169 miles ran. Now from time to time I didn’t add in many of the runs I did, but on paper it says 169 miles. That means from September of 2011 until June of 2013 I did 100 miles. That is roughly 1 year and a half it took me to log 100 miles. I am not a runner, that proves it. But from Memorial Day 2013 (May 27) to Labor Day 2013 (September 2) I logged just shy of 70 miles. That’s a couple days more than a 3 month time period.

After much reflection I realize I did defeat the challenge, the one I set for myself. I was 30 miles shy of matching the amount of miles it took me a year and half to log, in just over 3 months. Maybe I am a runner after all.

So, rather than risk injury or whatever, I decided my last 3 miles of the challenge was going to be one that I enjoyed. Not just for the challenge but for the pure enjoyment of the run. My son, Alex, has done runs with me from time to time. I asked him if he wanted to head out on this one for me and he accepted. Running those final 3 miles of the challenge I was filled with much more than defeat— I was filled with joy. I was reveling in the fact I could share this moment, this run, with my son. I could see his eyes on me, the way he looked at me filled me with pride.

A big congratulations to all my teammates from the New England Spahtens who not only accepted this challenge, but completed it. And for those, like me, that did not “finish it” in all reality, you guys killed this thing to. We all have something to take away from this. We never quit, we may not have hit the mark, but we never quit and saw it through the best we could. I admire all of you and look forward to challenges like this in the future.


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