You know how sometimes, you can plan for something, work at it a bunch, and still have it fall flat on its face?
That was me this time last year.
I picked the Tillamook Burn Trail Race as my first 50K distance race. It's beautiful, or rather....brutiful. With over 7000 ft elevation gain and loss over 30 miles of lush old growth forest, I really had my work cut out for me when I found out I had gotten a spot from the waitlist for this race.
I toed the line last spring, started strong, but then a few hours in, the terrain started to eat me alive.
I realized around mile 16 that my finish was in jeopardy. With each mile completed, it actually started to feel like the finish line was moving away from me. There was a 5pm cutoff for the race. I was dangerously close to going over time. The final 1450ft ascent before the finish, I knew it was over for me. They let me through the last aid station so I could complete the distance and cross the finish line. My family was waiting there for me, and it didn't matter to them that I missed the official time by 14 minutes. It really only mattered to me.
Turns out it mattered to me a LOT. Way more than I understood until the past few weeks.
I took the fitness attained from training for that race and churned it into the next race, and the race after that. I volunteered at other races and got inspired.
I went to grown up up running camp and highlighted my areas of weakness so I could hone those skills and become a better athlete.
I cross-trained when I could (read: grabbing those 5-10 minute slots to kettlebell, stretch, squat, handstand, lunge, or whatever!). I ran in the rain, the mud, the snow, the ice, the numerous mini-landslides, in jeans, pajamas, snow gear...to make it happen. For me.
I studied the Tillamook Burn course this year and chunked it down into 8 sections. I set time goals for each checkpoint.
Do you know what? It worked. I finished 38 minutes faster this year, and the day was a pure joy. 365 days and a lot of work later, I finished that bad boy.
Set goals, huge goals, and work towards them every day. Work it into your day. Stay focused. It's important to me that my kids see me doing this valuable self-care, even though I'm balancing parenting them and seeing my patients. Be patient. Do many small things. I promise, it's worth it.
The sweetest finishes sometimes take a long time to get to.