They say that 87% of people let the fear of failure keep them from being successful. EIGHTY SEVEN PERCENT. Is that number not terrifying? So much untapped potential. So many people so close to their dreams that come up short. What if…failure wasn’t even on the table? What would we be capable of then? What would this WORLD be capable of? What dream would you chase wholeheartedly without looking back?
Last fall after a year of training harder than I ever have before, I came up 3 minutes short of a Boston qualifying time…not once but TWICE in one month. I was devastated. I let my fear take me over. How dare I make such a lofty goal for myself. Who do I think I am? I was a middle of the pack runner on my JV Cross Country team in high school. I could barely break 8 minutes for a 3 miler most of my life. I ran my first marathon at a 10:30 pace. Runners like me don’t qualify for Boston. All sounds like things people in that 87% would say right? I was one of them for far too long.
Slowly but surely, I worked on that poor attitude this year. I read countless books on building positive mental power and had done some serious self reflecting. What was I so scared of? My own head, that’s what. Convincing myself I am worthy has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. Ironically, I heard this 87% quote on the way to my marathon this past Saturday morning as I went after my dream goal of being a Boston Qualifier one more time. That line hit me right in my stomach. So much that I replayed it several times before I got to the race. 87% of people let the fear of failure keep them from being successful. All I could think of Saturday was the number 13. I will be the 13% today. I WILL.
Despite my good energy and confidence all week, on race morning, fear still snuck in. My strategy for race day was to play it very safe. The last two marathons I ran last year, I had a goal of keeping an even pace the whole way through, but my legs gave out way too early. My running style is more of a negative split which means starting off slow and then picking it up and finishing strong. So I decided that is the race I would run, MY race. I stuck with the 3:40 pace group for the first 12 miles, which was probably a little longer than I should have because I was scared to take off on my own. But I left them and made my way to the 3:35 pace group. Mile 23 I then left them, turned up my music and went for it. A mere half mile later, I got two ridiculous cramps in both my calves. Shortly after that I hit a huge wall. Words do not do justice to describe a marathon wall, the best I can do is tell you it feels like you have a thousand knives just sitting in every inch of your leg. It hurts. I was really hoping I was going to be lucky and avoid one of those for this race. Not so much. All I kept thinking was “you are the 13%, you are the 13%, YOU ARE THE 13%, just keep moving.”
I had all these visions of how this last mile would feel as I approached my goal, I thought I would be on cloud nine, I saw myself smiling and jumping as I crossed the finish line. Lets just say that was not quite the scene. Because I was cutting it so close and because I was in so much pain, I could not focus on anything else except moving one foot in front of the other as fast as I could. I had no time to slow down, no time to skip, every second counted at this point. My last mile I felt like I was sprinting, but I was probably not even holding a 9 minute mile. When I crossed the finish line at 3:34:54 I collapsed immediately. I had nothing left. Nothing. I was so overcome with emotion, I could not even register the people around me. I could not believe I pulled it off. With only six seconds to spare, talk about stressful.
I was a little disappointed that it was such a close call, I really had hoped to feel stronger and finish in the late 3:20s but I FREAKING DID IT. We are all capable of amazing things. But we have to overcome that fear. Fear is often disguised as excuses or as self doubt, fight it off. What I would give to go back in time to my high school and college years, where I often never felt good enough compared to my talented teammates. I use to day dream about the day I would be in a race or out on the soccer field and have somebody say, “wow look at her, she is a good athlete”. I wish I knew what I know now. It was in me all a long, I just had to tap in to it. I had to stop being so scared.
The amount of support I have received on this journey, has been overwhelming. It has brought me to tears several times, it has humbled me time and time again. I am such a lucky girl to be so blessed by so many supportive people. It is a scary thing to share such a big goal with others. It means they will know when you fail. But it is one of the strongest tools to keep yourself accountable. It kept me from walking at mile 25. It kept me going to my dreaded track workouts week after week. It got me here. Thank you. Stay blessed in the mess 🙂