Prepared to Fail

Tomorrow is the Sacramento marathon (also known as California Marathon, or CIM).

I am not really a runner. Yet, I love to run. The solidtude. Steps on the ground in a rhythmic pattern. Letting your mind wander. The runners rush after a good jaunt.  I just wasn’t built to be a long distance runner. But that hasn’t quelled my enthusiasm for it.

I have two prior (failed) Marathon attempts, both three years ago. Midway through my training I got some pretty harsh tendonitis that benched me. A little over a year ago I sought out a highly regarded Orthopedic surgeon who I was sure could get me back into running. After my evaluation, he told me his best advice was to lay low a year, possibly two, do light stretching and exercises—maybe aquatic!—but to do nothing running related. Was basically a lot of “you know, tendonitis is tricky…not great blood flow there, slow to repair, there’s just really not a lot you can do…” Upon my request he reluctantly made a physical therapist recommendation. I still remember how hopeless I felt leaving his office.

Instead (of basically doing nothing) I found a physical therapist who got me jump started. I remember on my first visit asking him if he could help me run again, with the end goal being a marathon. With some optimism he said yes. Part of what I needed was some physical help, and he used an amazing (and painful—like bring-you-to-tears-painful) technique called Graston Therapy that made a huge difference. But he also gave me some hope.

So fast forward 1+ years, I’ve now been training for the Sac Marathon for four months, supplemented with Crossfit a few days a week, and have been following the Paleo diet consistently and have dropped a few pounds. At worst, I am in decent shape. But even still, I’m lacking confidence for tomorrow.

So up until this moment, I have given myself an out for tomorrow’s race so that if I don’t finish I’m okay with it. And myself.

In other words, I’ve set myself up to be okay with failing. Which is not really like me at all, but this dang marathon has evaded me for years and I’m quite a bit humbled by it.

It manifests through a lot of ways, by how I share with others that I’m “trying” to run the Sacramento marathon and simply “hope” to finish, to my latest series of internal conversations this morning about how the cold I caught this morning and lousy running weather all make it more understandable if I “try” but don’t complete it.

Why have I done this? It’s protective. If I finish, then I still feel good. But if I don’t, well, then I won’t feel so bad because I’ve been hedging all the while. It’s pretty primitive, really. And I’m kind of a sissy for doing it. Because all I’ve really done is reduced some of my determination, and increased my risk of failure.

Hours ago before I boarded my flight from the East Coast to Sacramento, by way of my hometown Dallas, I realized what I’ve been doing psychologically over the past four months. And in an instant it totally changed my context and beliefs. Because, a) I’m not really a sissy, and b) I don’t quit stuff, and c) I should have enough mental mojo to fix this deficient thought pattern.

So here’s where I am now, and I’m not deviating from it for one minute.

Tomorrow, I’m going to run—and finish—the Sacramento marathon.

And, here’s the real stretch for me: I’m going to run it in under four hours.

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