Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Looking ahead to 2011

2010 brought about a whirl-wind of adventures for me. I started out the year not knowing what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and having a lot of questions about who I am. Throughout the year my husband and I successfully made it through many difficult challenges, and really begun to have a clear picture for our future for the first time. While I wouldn't say that we have the rest of our lives mapped out, we both found ourselves seeking comfort that greater things are ahead and that we are truly blessed to have one another.

For as many great moments I have experienced this year, there were equally as many moments where I found myself being challenged beyond what I thought that I could handle. I think that one of the greatest realizations that I have come to this year is that the moments of success and joy which we all experience in our lives are not what develops and shapes us into who we are. Rather, it is the difficult moments when we feel as if we have nothing left and simply cannot go on that mold us into unique individuals. My biggest challenge in life is to be grateful for every moment that I have, even the difficult moments. It has always been easy for me to feel overwhelmed in the heat of the moment and to forget that I am capable of anything that I desire. This year I have been able to allow myself to step back from a difficult situation and really take it for face value. I will not be the greatest at everything that I do, I will not have the correct answer for everything, my words will not always be filled with wisdom, nor will my heart be constantly be filled with love and kindness. I am an imperfect individual that is constantly growing and learning, just as long as I allow myself to do so. It is nearly impossible to achieve great successes at everything, furthermore if I was successful at everything that I would be dull, unchallenging, and lack any type of meaning.

I run because I enjoy it, not because I have to break records and achieve amazing feats. That being said, just because I enjoy the challenge does not mean that I will always attain great successes. This year I made my venture back into marathon racing. After many injuries an other odd impalement's which impaired my running in the past few years, this year I felt like my body was once again able to withstand the grueling demands of marathon training.

I spent basically the entire year in training mode for various races, all of which were leading up to the Chicago Marathon in October. I begun my race season with the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle 8k, ran the Soldier Field 10 Mile in May, completed a few 5ks over the summer, had one successful and one not so successful half marathon, and spent January through October training for one complete the Chicago Marathon in 3:15.

Based on the above picture, I think that its fairly obvious how my plans turned out.

While we are busy planning and preparing ourselves for the future, life is busy teaching us otherwise. Overall my training was fairly successful. I was the fastest, strongest, and fittest I have ever been. Mentally I felt like I was prepared for anything. Turns out that I never felt so defeated in my life. The weather that day was particularly warm, I had been experiencing stomach aliments for several weeks leading up to the race with race day proving to be no different, and I had put so much pressure on myself that I had to achieve my goal that I begun to unravel a bit on race morning. All the time I spent logging countless miles in the summer heat, the late mornings spent in the gym lifting weights, the nights when I opted to go to bed early rather then spend an evening on the town with friends, all my preparations went out the window.

To be a successful at anything in life we have to understand that sometimes we will be beaten down, dragged through the mud, and left for dead before we can achieve greatness. I would be lying if I said that I was not severely disappointed with myself for my 3:38 finish for sometime. It took me several weeks to be able to look at what I did accomplish and really be proud. No I did not finish in the time that I wanted, but hell I finished a a time that is still quite fast for a majority of people. So what my stomach hurt like no other during the race, that it was "hotter then a fish fry" and I consumed way to much gatorade, and who cares that I ended up walking quite a bit in the second half. I finished what I started, and there is always room for improvement in the future.

This year I have defiantly learned that while I do want to be constantly improving as a runner, it will not happen every race. It has taken me many years to finally feel okay with the fact that PR's don't happen every time I race. With all the hard work and dedication that is put into preparing for a race it is easy to get caught up in what one is actually trying to achieve. A PR is a really special thing that comes by every once in awhile, it is a magical thing that we are rewarded with when all of the stars are perfectly aligned on race day. There are so many uncontrollable circumstances in life, and sometimes our efforts may fall short of our expectations, but that does not mean that we are a failure.

My major life lesson this year is that I am grateful for all of my opportunities. There may be times when I may fall flat on my face and feel as if my efforts were a disappointment, but thats not the important part. Its more important how we deal with the setbacks and upsets then how many successes we have in life. As long as I have the opportunity to experience life and new things, I will be eternally grateful for all triumphs and short-comings. I will always have the opportunity to embark on new challenges, and I for the first time in my life feel extremely anxious about seeing what the future holds.

I look forward to more moments of silliness with my dogs.

I look forward to building more memories with my husband, and experiencing new things together on our adventure.

I also look forward to experiencing more moments of pure bliss, where I feel completely loved and fulfilled by all the greatness that I have in my life.

2011 will be a year of great changes for me. I have boatloads of things that I want to experience with a new career path ahead of me. I am looking forward to putting 2010 behind me and closing this crazy chapter of my life and starting a new one. Who knows what next year will hold for me, but I am to experience it all.

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