April 17, 2012

Learning the Hard Way - Make it Count! #HAWMC Day 17 @wegohealth

I guess it's obvious now that I fell out of the WEGO Health Activists Writers Challenge after only a week. I'm proud of myself for trying at least. I made it 6 days! It was a lot of fun, but sometimes stressful too.  I definitely learned that my issues with perfectionism get in the way of my writing. In that short time, I came to realize that I don't need to write a thesis every time I sit down to write a blog. I can have a single idea and write for 15 minutes about it. I can post an inspirational quote that is hitting home with me on any given day and relate it to what is happening in my life.  The writers challenge is still ongoing of course - today is only April 17th and I hope to at least jump back in for a few days a week.

At the end of the first week of this writer's challenge, I was promoted to a management position at work and one of my cats, Mollie (13.5 years old) was getting very sick. My brain was such a mish-mash of excitement for my promotion/accomplishment, fear and worrying about how to help my poor Mollie who was in more pain than I ever care to witness any of my pets in EVER again, topped off with guilt from not staying committed to the writer's challenge. My focus for the last week has been on adjusting to my new role at work, carrying for Mollie who was diagnosed with Spondylitis and requires medication twice daily (talk about stressful!!!), racing (more to come in another blog soon) and getting ready for our Galloway program's very first 10K training program kick off!



Today's WEGO writer's challenge topic is to write for 15 minutes about a lesson you learned the hard way.  I am learning a lot about my writing style and how to open myself up to presenting information differently through this writer's challenge; but not in a "hard way" per se.

Daily prompt: Learned the Hard Way. Let’s take a look back as we seek to go forward. Some of the beliefs we hold play a significant role in our lives today because we learned them the hard way. According to human nature, we will make mistakes throughout our lifetime. However, more important than the mistake itself is what we do when we realize we have stumbled. Sometimes, it is tough to address our slip-ups and move ahead. But it’s necessary in life. So for today’s prompt – what’s a lesson you learned the hard way? Write about it for 15 today. Was it challenging to revisit mistakes you have made? Does the lesson you learned then, help to explain some of your actions today?

My first and hopefully only "Did Not Finish" at last year's 2011 Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN is a biggie for me. And yes, it still sits in the back of my mind, even though I've completed 2 full marathons and several half marathons since then. It was the first full marathon that I attempted to "race". I had an aggressive time goal. I trained harder than I ever had in my life for many months. And it all backfired in mile 21. When I dropped out with less than 4 miles to go to the finish, I was a physical and emotional wreck. I knew (and felt) from the minute I woke up that morning that something about me was "off". I didn't feel like eating before we left for the train that would take us up to the Start. What's worse is that I shrugged it off! Who does that before a marathon when PRing is a goal?!?! Me. In hindsight, I had too much going on in other areas of my life and did not appreciate just how much it was all impacting me. I couldn't even run a mile the week leading into the race because of my low energy and total lack of motivation - and I STILL didn't let myself adjust my race day plan. Stubborn. Stubborn. Stubborn.

Despite these warning signs, I went out too fast, failed to adapt to how I was feeling that morning, and ended up in a military medic truck in mile 22, crying, barely able to walk on my own with a faint, irregular heart beat. I blogged about the whole experience and included a lessons learned section. This is one of my major purposes for writing the race recaps. It's not all about celebrating successes, it's about taking a hard look at your race day strategy. Did I prepare enough? Was it too much? Did I stick to my race day plan? What worked? What didn't work? How can I use this race experience to better myself for the next one?

Each race is a learning experience. No course is the same. No race on the same course is the same. This is part of the beauty of running and racing. The journey is one of strategy, learning about and listening to your body and staying flexible (and confident) enough to make adaptations to your plan when you're feeling AWESOME and also when you're feeling not-so-awesome.

While it is sometimes difficult to look back at these mistakes, without exploring the outcomes, the experience is, in my opinion, wasted. The lessons I learned absolutely explain some of my actions today. I fuel up before a long run - even if I don't feel like I need it - and I share this with our running club members. I've learned to back off during a run and even throw in an unplanned rest day at the expense of not meeting my weekly mileage goal if my energy level is dipping too low. No more forcing workouts when I could just be enjoying a run!  After all, if I can't get to the Start feeling strong and healthy, I haven't prepared myself to run the race I showed up to run.

Ultimately, learning lessons "the hard way" is, for me, often times a sign that I'm extending myself beyond my limits....or at least what I perceive to be limits (self-imposed, you could say). I want to push harder, but that plan was too aggressive or maybe not aggressive enough. If I'm not not stumbling or making mistakes, I'm staying in my comfort zone. And while I think that is okay for a while, I must bust out of that zone to make forward progress - it's not always going to be pretty, or smooth or even consistent. But from each try will come a lesson. And with each lesson, there is growth.

I'll end with this fitting quote from Thomas Edison:


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