motivation

I Did It! Reflections on Achieving What Once Seemed Impossible

possible_imageOn Sunday morning I ventured out with two other women, Anita, whom I’m training for a half marathon with, and Julie, whom I know from my 10K training group last winter and who is now in Anita’s half marathon group at the Running Room.

The run was an LSD–short for “long, slow distance”–20K at a leisurely pace with 10-1 run-walk intervals. We committed to a pace that was supremely conversational.

That meant 2.5 hours of chat.  Within the first breezy, chilly 5K of the morning, Julie told us about a friend who completed an Ironman this summer. So impressive!  Hardly imaginable. “But she always knocks herself down by saying she finished near to last,” Julie said.

You know how sometimes you hear a thing and it makes something in your head go “click”?  I heard myself in Julie’s friend.  Not the Ironman part. The part about knocking myself down.

I ran a 10K race!  But I could have done it faster.

I did an Olympic distance triathlon! But I almost came in last.

Even though I tried to be positive whenever I blogged about my races over the past little while, and I always ended on an upnote about how “at least” I did it, I’ve never truly allowed myself to soak in the magnitude of my physical accomplishments over the past little while.

The closest I got was my birthday post, where I talked about how far I’ve come since we started the blog. But I don’t think even there that I fully appreciated what the two Olympic distance triathlons actually mean for me.

It’s not about where I placed. It’s about finishing what I started.

Here’s some perspective:  Sam re-posted my first 5K race report from two years ago (October 2013).  The day I did that 5K, 5K was the longest I’d ever done! I felt nervous as hell–and the race didn’t even have timing chips!  I’d been running less than a year and the very thought of ever doing triathlon was about as remote the possibility that I may one day climb Everest (ZERO–no desire and I don’t understand why people do that).

When I dipped my toe into triathlon with my first Kincardine Women’s Triathlon in the summer of 2013, it lit a fire in me, but Olympic distance?  Impossible.

But that impossible goal supplanted my pre-triathlon fittest by 50 goal of running a half marathon. I re-jigged my training, started swimming with a coach, and even joined a triathlon club.

Before the snow from our polar vortex winter of 2014 melted, the impossible began to come into view.  I told my coach that was the distance I wanted to train for. I made public declarations about my intention.

When I was at my computer, instead of working, or even procrastinating from work on Facebook, I read and re-read websites detailing the summer events within driving distance of London.

By the time the first flowers of spring were in bloom, I’d committed to Bracebridge in August and Lakeside in September. For me, paying the money meant no turning back.

I trained.  And trained. And trained. I hauled myself out of bed for 6 a.m. swims in Sharon’s Creek.  I forced myself to ride the road bike (here is where I would normally add in some kind of complaint about how much I detested it and how little progress I made, but I refuse to go there today). I ran as early as possible to avoid the heat of the day.  Once, I came home from work at noon and did a brick workout to test my capacity to run in the noon heat just in case I ever happened to be doing that on race day (and I did, in Bracebridge).

So that’s triathlon. And I’m feeling awesome that I did it.

About running.  Back in the spring when I did the 10K in the Forest City Road Race, I watched the half marathoners with awe.  It seemed unfathomable to me that anyone would be able to complete 21K.

Then, after a little coaxing from my friend, Anita, the goal just didn’t seem all that out of reach.  She wanted someone to run the Toronto Waterfront Half with her on October 19th. I checked my calendar.  Available. I signed up (remember: once I pay, I’m there!).

With just over a month between the Lakeside Olympic distance and the Toronto half, I had a month to shift my attention to running. I love the long chatty runs. But a couple of weekends in a row I had to do long ones — 18K — by myself. And I did.

Which brings me to last Sunday, on our leisurely 20K, chatting and watching our pace and logging the distance one step at a time.  What once seemed impossible had the character of an unhurried coffee date with friends. Yes. 20K. Like going for coffee.

I’m really liking this thing–this thing of doing the impossible.

What have you done that once seemed impossible?  I’d love to hear about it! If you can’t think of something, how about making a decision to work towards a new, seemingly impossible goal?

You’ll feel kind of pumped once you do it.