And what happens if you aren’t able to run the race?
Well, that won’t happen.
But, Talia, what if it does?
It won’t. Failure is not an option for me.
This was a conversation I had five months ago- a friend, knowing how dedicated I was, wanted to know how I would deal if my dreams never came into fruition. I wasn’t trying to sound arrogant, I was simply so damn adamant and sure of myself when those words graced my tongue. Why wouldn’t I be? I was training, putting in the time, and the work necessary to run 13.1 miles. I was also mentally dedicated and set on that feeling of accomplishment that I would feel in knowing that one year earlier I was unable to leave my couch due to a lupus flare. I guess that’s why I didn’t think twice when I said- that won’t happen.
But with a mere two days before the half marathon, I have come to the reality that- the race won’t happen. It can’t happen. So when do you allow yourself to embrace a failure, and view it not as much as a failure, but solely a setback in your ultimate goals.
I will tell you now that this wasn’t a rash decision. It was something I have been sitting on since right before Mexico. The dull pain returned in my left knee and it refused to go home. I tried to limit my running, increase yoga, decrease yoga, decrease running, ice it, heat it, icy-hot it, anything-it. I was angry and I felt defeated, hence my lack of writing. It left me with nothing nice to say so I decided to say nothing at all. Though I continued to run, the passion and excitement I felt when I found success in running was waning. I felt so close to my goals, but I recognized that obtaining my goal of a half-marathon would ultimately be a setback. Sure, I could do 13.1 miles, but I could feel that it would hinder my progress in the long run. As a lupus warrior I knew what I had to do – listen to your body.
(Sing to the tone of Bump and Grind):
My body, my body was telling me nooo, but my mind, my mind’s telling me yaaassss!
Well, mind, sometimes you aren’t as smart as my body. As I sat in defeat, near tears, and feeling like a total failure, John reminded me about a little story starring an ocean goddess by the name of Diana Nyad. In 2013, Queen Nyad, as I will now and forever refer to her as, became the first person confirmed to swim 110 miles, from Havana to Key West. And she did it at the age of 64. And she did it on her fifth try. Not her first, second, third, or fourth. But she was never deterred from her ultimate goal. Granted, the Queen herself was swimming 10x the amount I was planning on running, but what remained with me was this notion that she wasn’t discouraged from achieving what she set out to accomplish. Despite box jellyfish stings, sharks, and asthma attacks, she persevered. Initially, I felt discouraged for her, I couldn’t fathom the work she put in and that feeling of defeat. But now I see.
It is possible for failure to be an option. When we allow failure to become an option, sometimes we open ourselves up to greater experiences. Will my “victory” in running a half-marathon one day taste that much sweeter? Maybe. Maybe not. I can only say that I now can embrace what won’t be and do so gracefully. On Sunday I will be running my first 10K, and I’m thrilled.
So sorry to hear this news. But, think of it as not a failure, but a little delay. 10 km is still quite a major achievement! Sometimes, we are so focused on what lies ahead that we forget to turn around and view how far we have come. So, stop a little, look back a bit, and marvel at the wonderful progress you’ve made. Was it Edison that said the he learned hundreds of ways not to make a light bulb?. Good luck, take it easy, and appreciate the getting there. :-D.
Thank you for your thoughtful post! My friend was just saying this yesterday- literally saying, last year you couldn’t run a mile, look how far you have come. That’s the reality! It’s harder to accept the reality sometimes. At least I know in my future I have some more goals to set 🙂
And yes, it was Edison. I was actually going to quote him, but then I remembered how many of my students got so annoyed that I didn’t teach about Tesla that I felt guilty. There’s also a great ford quote, but the man was an anti-Semite, and hey, a Jews gotta do what a Jews gotta do. Can’t support his quotes in my blog. I pick my quotes with care 😉
Deciding not to run is always the hardest decision but it’s usually the right decision. It sucks but there’s always another race. Sometimes I find that I can’t see the wood for the trees – I so desperately want to run a race but really I need to look after myself so I can run for the next 20+ years. Take care. Enjoy your 10K!
So true. At first it was a sense of shame, then it was the sense of- this is about me, not about people’s perception of me. Now it’s about my running health in the future.
Thanks for the advice and support! I needed it!!!
I’m sorry you can’t do your goal distance this week, but well done for listening to your body. Too often we push through pain, so determined are we to achieve our goals and avoid ‘failure’ that we end up doing more damage. I’ve been there and not listened and as a result this year is the year of the marathon instead of the year of the triathlon. I hurt my shoulder, but I kept pushing, kept swimming and kept telling myself it would go away on its own. Two years later, I’m still unable to swim without pain :-(. So don’t see this as a failure, but as a success in listening to your body and doing what’s right. Maybe you’re not running a half marathon tomorrow, but in not doing so you’ll now be able to go on to run many more in the future 🙂
Thank you for the support. In hearing stories like yours I’m reminded about making the best decision for me. Definitely not the easiest. I knew it would be a setback in I did the half. Bummer! Thanks for the support. I really appreciate all that you said 🙂
Jerry Garcia once was challenged on his sloppy guitar play on a song once and his response stuck with me to this day. He said, “It’s just a note. If you miss it, you go on an play the next one. There’s plenty more”. Same thing holds true with half marathons. There will be more, you catch the next one. Maybe you sign up for one at the last minute when you are in a stronger place?
The thing about goals is that if there isn’t a meaning chance that one will fail to meet them, they aren’t goals, they are checklist items. The greater the risk that you won’t be able to achieve the goal, so much greater is the accomplishment.
Also, and this is most important. Never compare yourself to someone else. They have different circumstances. Be great!
Maybe it’s because I’m a teacher but I love analogies. And your example! and you can’t be more right, it’s never good to compare oneself. So why is it so damn hard not to?! Ha! As always, thanks for the support 🙂
It requires practice and vigilance.
Much luv to my little temple-going cousin of the South facing boardwalk.
Sorry to hear this. BUT, I think you are extremely wise for listening to your body. So many people don’t and that will always bite you in the hinny. I looked up lupus and um, that’s a very legit reason for holding off. There are a million races and I think it will feel so much sweeter when you actually get to enjoy the accomplishment! And it is not a failure, just an adjustment along the way. 🙂
It can be tough when your body won’t let you do the things your heart is ready to do. I’m sorry about your half, but I think you made a wise choice.
Thanks! I am STILL trying to acknowledge and accept that. I know I could not have done the half, but I’m not as proud of myself as I wish I was.