Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Drive

I can't really believe it, but after yesterday morning's run, I am "done" with my training for the Utah Valley Marathon. I ran 9 miles yesterday morning - a three mile warm up, 3x1 mile (6:24, 6:26, 6:15) and then a three mile cool down. I was pretty happy to hit that 6:15 mile, especially after the tough track work out the day before.

I had six easy miles this morning and there is nothing left before race day but shorter, easy runs and some strides. I have a post coming soon with my hopes and goals for UVM and reflections on this fairly short, but pretty dang awesome, training period.

I got the below question in an email and thought I would answer it here.

"So the question is….  you must be a very competitive person by nature.  How did you go from not running at all to running the high mileage you're doing now?  How did you convince yourself that you needed to qualify for Boston and keep setting personal bests?  That's an amazing turnaround….  what planted the seed?  Why didn't you just settle (like me) with running low mileage just to remain fit?  Just interested how it all started.  I just cannot imagine myself running that kind of mileage…."

First I need to say that I am not really a very competitive person. I am a very driven person though.  I have always been that way - if I am going to do something, I want to do it well. Really well. Not better than anyone else, but to the very best of my abilities. I graduated from high school fifth in my class of about 500 kids, with a generous scholarship to college. I always had straight A's in school. Whether I was showing horses, playing violin, or babysitting, I was dedicated and committed to doing the best I could.

Again, I have never really had a strong desire to beat others, just to getting the most out of myself that I can. I have always wanted to be good at what I do.

When I started running just over three years ago, it was because I was looking for a new "tool" to help me lose weight. I never, ever imagined I would enjoy running, and I really never, ever imagined that I would be any good at it.

I have written about how hard that first run was, but how hooked I was from that very first day. For a while I settled in at running three miles a day, five days a week. I remember telling my dad that three miles was the perfect daily distance and I couldn't imagine running more than that regularly. Ha! That didn't last long.

Then I ran a 5k and found that I really enjoyed racing. Then Josh and I decided to sign up for a 10k and we both loved it. Then I ran on a Ragnar relay team (and trained hard for it). Then Jenny and I decided to train for and run a half marathon. Then I decided to train for a full marathon, thinking it would be a one-time thing that I crossed off my bucket list. Each time I fully enjoyed the new challenge, the training, the reward, and the sense of accomplishment. Each time I finished satisfied, excited, and ready to push myself a little further.

When I ran that first marathon in December 2010, I just knew I had found my distance. We had not finished the short walk from the finish line back to the hotel before I told Josh and my parents that I wanted to do another one. I couldn't stop smiling. I wanted to run another marathon because I loved the training. I loved the actual race. I loved the challenge. I wanted to train better. I wanted to race faster. I wanted to see how good I could be at the marathon distance.  I truly enjoyed the 5k's, 10k's, relay races, and half marathons, but in my heart I knew that day that I am a marathoner.

I ran my first marathon in 4:15. After that, the first goal I set for myself was to run a marathon in under four hours. I signed up to run the Salt Lake City Marathon in April 2011 and stepped up my training. Sure enough, I ran a 3:57. I was on cloud nine. For the first time I realized that I could set goals, train for them, and achieve them. I remember thinking there was NO way I could shave another 20 minutes off of that time and qualify for Boston, but that thinking didn't last long either, and I decided to train for it and see what I could do.

Four months later, I qualified for Boston on my first attempt with a 3:32, and two weeks later I bettered my PR to 3:28.

Early this year I decided I wanted to try to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials.  Just like when I decided to try and qualify for Boston, I know that hitting that qualifying standard will NOT be easy, and that I may not succeed. But I want to try, and I am willing to put the work in to do my best to make it happen. I love the training. I feel great.  I have the BEST support system. I am able to train without having a negative impact on the rest of my life. I am very much enjoying the journey.

When I set out on that first run three years ago could I have imagined that I would one day be running 90 mile weeks? When I was struggling to finish a mile without walking, and when I was dead last in our little group of neighborhood moms who ran together, and was slower than a 12 minute pace, could I ever imagined that I would be able to run miles in the 6-7 minute range? When I ran that first marathon could I ever have dreamed that just over a year later I would decide to set the goal to qualify for the Olympic Trials?

Heck No.

But the desire to push myself to be the best runner I can be has been there from day one. At first that meant running two miles without walking. Steadily my goals and dreams have increased along with my mileage and speed. I think a big part of it is my nature to push myself and my drive to do the best that I possibly can at what I put my heart in to. I also believe that running is a talent that took me a while to discover, but is God-given. That also makes me want to make the very most of it.

I am driven. I am determined. I am committed. I am faithful. I am a runner. I am a marathoner.

I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to encourage my kids and others to do the same. I want to see how good I can be at doing what I love. I want to squeeze the best out of myself that I can.

That's why I do what I do. :)

“When all's said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it's not so much which road you take, as how you take it.” - Charles de Lint


“Try and fail, but don't fail to try.” - Stephen Kaggwa


“Whatever you are, be a good one.” - Abraham Lincoln

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

“When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” - Helen Keller

and my favorite -

"Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

23 comments:

Julia said...

ahhhh. this spoke to me LOTS. i also think im very driven and it drives me crazy to not give a 100% but i think as of late...i struggle following a plan because then i have a way out if i fail. but i really liked what you said about setting the goal and trying...focusing on the "try" aspect rather than the "might not make it" aspect. but along the way you might realize you were capable of your goal and much much more just because you tried. i am going to try and take this attitude into my new training plan. i want to start thinking like that...i already feel a sense of feeling more empowered and excited just changing my thinking that little bit. thank you for this!

Suz and Allan said...

I too was really touched by this post. When it comes to running it's not necessarily my competitive drive that pushes me but the desire to do the best I can. I feel that people have a hard time remembering that their best is not comparable to that of others. Do what you can with what you have and leave it all out there. You can't ask for more than that!

misszippy said...

I totally relate to this. So many people assume I am super competitive. I am, but with myself and the clock. It'a always about seeing what I can do--that's the driver.

In your case, you've set the big goal and have the smaller goals along the way to get you there. This weekend's marathon is just one step in the journey, as have been the others leading up to it. You've done all you need to do to get where you want, so it's yours for the taking!

Adrienne said...

You hit the nail on the head with your perspective on "driven vs. competitive". Driven people seem to look more inward and strive for excellence, not winning.

You my dear, are ready for another milestone in your journey, no doubt you'll go out and give it your best!

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

wow what a great insight to your thinking! it's interesting because as much as I adore running and i really only run for myself, I don't have the same drive to keep bettering my time...i loved seeing your thoughts on in it and definitely a reminder that we all come to running for different reasons

Anne said...

However, when all's said and done, not all roads lead to the same end.

Kathy said...

Fantastic perspective! You are such an inspiration! I'm a late in life runner (3 year runniversary coming up in August) and working towards my first sub 4 marathon. I NEED to hear stories like this ... keeps me pushing harder!

Jen@runfortheboys said...

Yes! Being driven vs. being competitive...very good points and something I hope we all embrace. To compete with others can leave us feeling undeservedly proud (if our "competition" doesn't push us to perform to the best of our ability) or with unwarranted disappointment (if even our very best effort falls short of those whom we label "competitors")...the best and most important competition is against ourselves.

Well, unless you're in a 50 yard dash with your BFF....and she smokes you.

He Runs, She Runs, We Run said...

I love your words " I found my distance".

kathrynellen said...

Thank you for inspiring all of us. I started running more "seriously" (i.e., more than my 3-mile limit) about 8 mos ago, and you have really kept me going. I have my first half marathon on Saturday. Wish me luck!

Sybil said...

This really spoke to me, as well. Thank you! I am driven AND competitive. You didn't say too much about it in this post, but I suspect you aren't terribly hard on yourself, either. Sometimes having big goals mean we don't always hit them 100% of the time.

I am on that same path of figuring out my distance. Every time I ran a race I would tell myself I needed to go farther. 5k then 10k then 1/2 and now I am starting to train for my first full. I am progressing really well, and it is definitely because of my internal drive to see what I can do.

But I also have aspirations of finishing higher in my division at races. It is tricky right now trying to go longer AND faster without totally burning myself out or injuring myself!

angie said...

Love this! You explained perfectly why a lot of us keep pushing ourselves. Not to beat others, but to be the best we can be. I'm excited for you to race your marathon. Best wishes for an awesome race!!!

Terzah said...

I'm so glad your training cycle went well--you sound refreshed and ready!! By the weekend you will be chomping at the bit.

I loved seeing your running story summarized this way. Thanks for the ongoing inspiration, my friend! I'm looking forward to seeing your quest unfold still further.

Anonymous said...

Love this post!! Thank you- I have been a hot mess with my 3rd marathon coming up on sat- but reading this I am feeling calm! Thank you! I find myself running against myself- I am such a goal oriented person!!! Carol- WV

Kristen Lawrence said...

You have an amazing story and I can't wait to read the recap after you pull off an equally amazing marathon! Nice mile splits by the way :)

Gracie said...

Yeah, you're a machine. A machine with drive :) I really admire all you've worked so hard for!
PS - my first marathon was a 4:15 too!

coach dion said...

had a laugh at your video from the other day... I was watching it on my phone, so it was a bit jumpy...

So I'm going to have to win the LOTTO and came and run with you!!!

Anonymous said...

Erin- thank you for being you... I love it, I am so grateful to have met you this year... you embody and embrace the spirit, the spirit of being driven, go for it!!! xo
Terri Rosen

SWMom said...

I love this post! You continue to be the best running role model for me! I'm in PT for my old knee injury that's giving me trouble and I'm unable to run the 10K trail run I have been planning for :( but I'm not giving up and I'm running the 5K if it kills me! I thought of your determination in my re-start of running and completed 2.5 miles the other day. I'll get there eventually, I know it. I wish you all the best fast marathon wishes for your upcoming race!!!!! Can't wait to hear about it!

Canuck Mom said...

I LOVE YOUR ANSWER TO THE COMPETITIVE QUESTION!! I get asked that a lot and I am not competitive either. I am just determined as well. I have always been this way when I take something on. If I take it on I am going o do it to the best of my ability, no matter what it is. That is why being injured sucks for me because it slows me down and I can not do what I need to, but I realize being determined also means accepting these moments and allowing my body to speak.

Ugly said...

Everyone can become a Pole Vaulter if they set the bar at 3 feet....

What separates runners from other folks is the determination and drive that most Americans dont have anymore....just excuses....

Thats what I like about the running community in that it is positive driven and done so by all ages....

Good luck to all running in Utah....

Beth said...

You explained this so well, I totally relate about the driven vs competitive part. I love the feeling of accomolishment from the training and ulimately the race itself.
I had a marathon planned that I was hoping to BQ at this past Sunday, but my son was admitted to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy the day before. It's hard to have so much built up and ready to race and then have to put it on hold. I'm frantically searching for what marathon I can do next. I wish I could get into the Utah Valley Marathon this weekend, too bad it's full!

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

You are an amazing woman and just perfectly described the natural progression of running for some.