Celebrating milestones, gaining marathon confidence

According to Facebook, last year at this time I was shoveling ice cream into my person as I returned from completing Esprit Montreal, my first Iron Distance race while two years ago, I was on my way back from Canada after completing my first 70.3 race at Muskoka. Apparently, I embrace fall challenges. This makes sense since fall is my favorite season. Why not embrace big events when I feel most alive?

A year ago, I was giving my friend, Larry, bunny ears on the Ironman run in Montreal.

Of course this fall, my challenge comes Oct. 2 when I run the Wineglass Marathon. It will be my second standalone marathon since running Buffalo two years ago and my third overall, counting the marathon in my Ironman last year. My performance goals are modest by most standards, but I’ve had a difficult summer when it comes to performance goals. Circumstances have dealt me conditions not conducive to running my best race in my three other key events of the year. Given a healthy body and ideal weather conditions, I don’t just think I can hit my desired outcome, I completely believe I can do it.

And perhaps that’s the most important bit of growing I’ve done this year.

When I say it doesn’t matter if I actually hit my “goal time” in two weeks, that does not mean I won’t try. It doesn’t signify a lack of caring or effort or usher in an attitude of complete and total surrender. Instead, what it means is that I won’t be defined by the outcome. Who I am is not defined by my average pace and finishing time on that day. Who I am is created and expressed in each moment of each day, and who I am is constantly changing and evolving through new experiences. I still have one more long run before my two-week taper sets in, but already I know: I am prepared to run the marathon I have envisioned. There is excitement and confidence in that.

But as I prepare for Wineglass, I’m going to take some time this week to celebrate Montreal and Muskoka. Those were milestones for me, events which I never dreamed of completing. Those were accomplishments I thought were outside of my personal definition. But as I stepped outside my comfort zone, I started to change the way I see myself. I see myself as an athlete and as an adventurer. I find the joy of life in the experience, in the possibility, not just in the outcome. Sounds simple, but it’s not. We’re a performance-based, numbers-driven society and I too have my moments of being obsessed with quantification. But I’m starting to break out of those narrow definitions and settle into the confidence which comes from living — from allowing what I do to flow from who I am. Facebook’s flashback of what I was doing at this time the last two years reminded me of this shift in my thinking, allowing me to celebrate the anniversary of milestones as I look forward to creating another.

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