I knew in January 2017 that I was meant to run a marathon. It is what I am supposed to do, my calling, and my greatest ambition. That month, I crossed the start line at my first marathon, the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon, but I did not finish. At mile 12, after shedding a few tears, I climbed into the bus that carried me to the finish line. On top of the freezing temperatures, I had shivered for hours before the race officially started. I was not mentally or physically prepared for the unexpected low temps. Florida was experiencing a cold front. That morning, it was 32 degrees with a real feel in the 20’s, and I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and a rain poncho. My entire body ached, and my muscles were finished before the running even started. I learned a lot from this race and have made huge strides in improving, but until now, I had not thought about the most important take-away from that day.
Sometimes we just aren’t aware of how badly we want something until we no longer have it. On the bus headed for the finish line, I knew in that moment that it would not be my last marathon. It took me failing at this race to realize how much I whole-heartedly wanted to finish a marathon and earn that medal. I have always been taught to never quit when the going gets tough and to persevere toward something if it is really what I want. A year later, I crossed the finish line at the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon, shortly after finishing the Space Coast Marathon in November.
If I had not failed in Disney, who knows if I would have went on to run marathons, but I do know that everything that happens to us has a purpose. This weekend, I completed my 2nd Space Coast Marathon and 4th marathon and PR’d by 15 minutes. I was hoping for a faster time, and even though it was a fun and challenging experience, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that I did not meet my time goal. It is easy to believe that goals are made just to be reached. It’s natural to beat yourself up because of a lost opportunity, to think you did not live up to your potential. If I had not made that promise to myself after Disney DNF to run AND finish a marathon, I would not have had all the amazing experiences that I had in these past two years. I would have not run a 20-mile long run in the snow (and completely loved it!), or completed the Rock n’ Roll Nashville Marathon and went to a free concert, or I may have never started this blog.
Goals are not made just to be reached. They are made to be worked towards and embraced. Even when we fall short of fulfilling our dreams, there is still a lot to gain along the way – amazing experiences, valuable life lessons, and LOTS of joyful miles. It is not always about the destination, but the journey to get there.
“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy of life lies in having no goal to reach.” – Benjamin Mays