The History Channel wrapped its second season of Alone, a show where ten contestants are dropped off on their own in a specific portion of Vancouver Island. Contestants had to build their own shelter, hunt their own food, adapt to the changes of the weather, and deal with the elements of living in the wild. Not surprising, the most challenging factors for the contestants were their battle with hunger and the isolation that surrounded the rugged beauty of the island. What was most evident for me was the way each contestant responded to the challenges. Patience and positivity were the most powerful weapons to battle the demons that crept in when the novelty of the experience wore off. It was the contestant who remained calm and tackled what would be a disappointing outcome (high tide, no fish on gill net, pelting rain, wet shelter, missing family members) with positivity that won the ultimate prize. The show was a personal reminder for me of how powerful and positive remaining calm and staying focused can be for your overall health and achieving a personal goal.Not being able to run has been challenging, and I will not pretend that is has not affected me psychologically and emotionally. But I am not going to dwell on self-pity and I am tackling each day with an appetite to remain active while recognizing that running is not the only physical activity my body can perform. Not training for a specific race or having a set running schedule has given me the opportunity to spend extra time on activities I enjoy, like reading. I didn’t learn to read until I was almost eight, and it wasn’t in my native language of Spanish, it was in English. I moved to the United States a month before turning seven years old. When my mother registered me for public schools, I was placed in the first grade because the district felt first grade was more appropriate given I could not speak, read, or write English. There was a part of me that wishes I would have been placed in the corresponding grade based upon my age, but I get the rationale. When I learned to read, it was ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL! Even better, once I learned all of the letters of the alphabet and their corresponding sounds, I was able to read in both Spanish and English. In high school, I added a third language, French. Although I cannot say I am proficient in French, I can say I am capable of reading and understanding the French language comfortably. Extra time has also allowed for me to take off on weekends without worrying about putting in a long run. And with the purchase of our RV, we have been taking advantage and trekking off to the beautiful pockets of nature Oregon has to offer. Finally, I have been entertaining and hosting family members for the past month, which has kept me busy and given me little time to think about missed running opportunities. Staying busy has made the month of June and July fly before my eyes, and in a way, it has made Summer felt really short. Fortunately, I have three and a half weeks remaining before I return to work, so I am planning on soaking up every a second of what’s left and make the most of it. What I will not be doing is counting down until I can run again. It will happen when I am ready and I don’t want to rush the healing process.
If the path to success is non-linear, then I’m trekking on some serious curves! What happens when you are driving on a curvy and winding road? You slow down, remain focused, and continue driving without doubting your destination.
In October of 2014, I decided to register and train for the journey of running 26.2. The path to my 21 week marathon training started in December, and I was completely dedicated and faithful to my training for 16 straight weeks. Because my training had been so solid, all I could see was a straight road leading to Hayward Field, the finish line of the marathon. However, exactly four weeks ago yesterday, right smack in the middle of a sprint session, I ripped my plantar fascia, and my plans for Eugene took a massive detour – or as I now see it, I got a massive flat tire, didn’t have a spare, and had to be towed to home to get a new one. The injury forced me out of the Eugene Marathon, a decision that was hard to accept. In the last four weeks, I’ve had plenty of time to pose and sometimes answer questions that attacked my consciousness.
Definition of Success
Five weeks ago, I would have defined success as “crossing the finish line mentally and physically strong.” Mentally strong was measured by my ability to push through the physical pain without ever putting myself down if struggling. Physically strong was supposed to have been measured by the time in which it took me to cross the finish line. In my case, it was supposed to have been in under 4 hours and 20 minutes. When neither were going to happen, I felt like a complete failure. Rationally, I knew I wasn’t, but at the moment, when my heart was filled with so much disappointment it felt like I was going to asphyxiate, it was hard to believe I wasn’t. It’s very clear to me now I was placing greater value of strength and success on the symbolism of the marathon rather than the person running the marathon – me. These last four weeks were about discovering my inner strength. **I’ll tell you what, the most difficult and critical time to believe in oneself is when believing in oneself is the only way to dig yourself out of a hole! And what a catch 22 that is!
What dawned on me and only failed to recognize until Tuesday afternoon was that I have been living the definition of success with each workout I have completed despite my heartache and disappointment. No, I wasn’t running, but the perspiration on my back and forehead were a testament of mental and physical strength, which was my definition of success for the marathon to begin with! Whether it was a simple or challenging workout, the small feats of achievement have been a measurement of success!
Viewpoints and Pit Stops
There have been countless times when the family and I have embarked upon a road trip with a specific destination in mind and our travel times have been extender beyond our initial calculation. We’ve made pit stops at rest stops to empty our bladders, or fuel stops at gas stations to fill up our tanks and grab a sugary snack. Sometimes, we’ve had to stop due to illnesses and other times we’ve stopped because we have stumbled upon viewpoints we’ve never experienced. The viewpoint stops are always our favorites, because the views leave indelible images engraved in our hearts and minds. Which brings me to my point. I saw Eugene Marathon as the ultimate destination rather than a viewpoint that was part of the journey to success. When I couldn’t run the marathon, it felt as if my road came to an end I had lost my way.
Since hindsight is 20/20, it is now as clear as day that I approached my training with an erroneous perspective. Subsequently, I’ve made it a point to view my upcoming races as viewpoints rather than destinations.
- Ragnar Relay – I’ll be running Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay in June! It will be a one-of-a-kind experience for me given I don’t know a single one of the 11 females I will be joining. The best part about this race is that all 12 of us are in it for the sheer love of running! At the time I joined the group, I inherited the shortest legs of the relay and found it a smidge disappointing, but since I won’t have much running when June rolls in due to my injury, it actually works to my advantage!
- Catherine Creek Half-Marathon – This super fast half-marathon will take place on the first Saturday of August in Union, Oregon. This was the half where I was able to earn a sub-2 time, and I’d like to return set an even faster time. Because the first 5k distance of the half is a gradual descent, you are practically guaranteed a PR! Plus, the entrance fee is only $15 and the half is capped to 60 runners! All of the funds go to support the track and field program for the local high school.
- Marine Corps Marathon – I will get to run in Washington D.C. and see historic places that me proud and honored to live in such an amazing country. But what will be most meaningful to me will be to run a marathon that is all about the organization that introduced me to running: United States Marine Corps! This is a viewpoint that I’m quite certain will take my breath away! My husband is also running it, so I’ll be able to share the views with him.
The Eugene Marathon will take place this Sunday, Mother’s Day. I’m planning on spending the day with my daughters by eating a hearty breakfast, indulge with some frozen yogurt, and have a picnic at the park. It’s not how I had planned it 7 months ago, but there will always be a 26.2 viewpoint ahead of the road. The times with my girls are opportunities I cannot miss.
How are you spending your Mother’s Day? What is your definition of success? How have you faced the steep curves in your journey?