Let's Redefine Success And Failure
Running is really, really, really f*cking hard and honestly, it’s not something that I’m very good at. But that’s why I love it. I love how becoming a runner was so painful that it distracted me from everything that was happening in my life. I loved how amazed and empowered I felt after I survived my first half marathon. And I really, really love that running marathons has never gotten easier.
Running has an incredible way of kicking your ass and humbling you when you least expect it. Sure, it helps us cope and survive our day to day lives, but when I’m chasing a goal that feels impossible, I feel like I’m doing everything I can to become the strongest version of myself. And unlocking the confidence that I feel whenever I run outside of my comfort zone has changed my life.
And while that confidence helps me feel strong and empowered whenever I start to doubt myself, it’s true power lies in its ability to help me work through the heartbreak that comes when you fall flat on your face. I still believe that the only way you’ll fail is if you fail to try, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge how badly it hurts when you fall short of your goal and feel like you’ve failed.
I went into the London Marathon ready to make impossible, possible. I spent an entire year making sacrifices and running down my self imposed limits. And after twelve months of hard work, tears, sacrifices, smiles, breakthroughs, setbacks, more setbacks, and a couple thousand f-words, I finally got to a place where I believed in myself.
And then I got hurt.
A week before the London Marathon, my sports psychologist Dr. Bob asked me to redefine what success and failure meant to me. He knew I was struggling to come to terms with the uncertainty of my evil piriformis and TFL muscles which had both decided to wreak havoc on my final month of training. I knew there was a chance that I wasn’t going to get the race I convinced myself I deserved, and Dr. Bob was trying to help me remember that success wasn’t tied to my finishing time, but rather my effort. He told me that the only way I could fail was if I failed to show up to the starting line. And I knew he was right.
No regrets, no excuses helped me discover what it meant to run my personal best, whatever that meant each and every day. Sometimes it was a perfect, go hard and feel like an exhausted champion kind of day and sometimes it meant that I just had to do everything I could to not give up. Look, my race was a hot mess and I could sit here and try to tie a beautiful bow around the experience and “what I learned” but this is Oiselle and if there is one thing I owe the sisterhood, it’s my truth.
Hindsight is a tricky son-of-a-b*tch and now that I have it, I feel really embarrassed that when my hip blew up, I chose to suffer. I didn’t plan for the day I had. I had my A, B, and C goals. But the plan where everything goes to shit at mile 8 and I have to fight the urge not to intentionally trip over a curb so that I could quit without actually giving up? Yeah, I didn’t plan for Plan D.
I didn’t plan for the tidal wave of shame I experienced when I wanted to quit because I was embarrassed that I wasn’t going to run a Boston Marathon qualifying time. I didn’t plan to make long distance calls looking for someone to give me permission to quit. And I didn’t plan to meet Prince Harry and have my heart rate skyrocket uncontrollably once I discovered that he is charming as hell.
But it all happened and I’m still a little heartbroken and disappointed that I didn’t get to show myself what I’d worked and sacrificed so much for.
Dr. Bob told me that the only way I could fail was if I failed to cross the starting line. But after crossing that starting line and fighting the urge to walk off the course when I realized that my BQ wasn’t in the cards, I know now that quitting and failing to cross the finish line is the only way I could have actually failed.
I keep finding my way back to this quote that Professor Dumbledore says to Harry Potter in the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. "Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe."
My best friend and I were lucky enough to snag tickets to the play while we were in London and the second Professor Dumbledore spoke that text, I felt my stomach drop.
It’s so hard to find the courage to believe in yourself enough to try to make impossible, possible. But today, I realize that success isn’t black and white.
Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, and sometimes we get so damn lost that we realize we don’t even know what the hell we’re working towards. That’s the beauty of an impossible goal, it's not about the end result, but every step you take towards it. I’m not giving up on my goal to qualify for Boston. I’m just taking the time to get my body and soul back to the place it needs to be before subjecting it to that addictive pain and heartbreak once again. I know it won’t be long.
That BQ is finally just outside of my reach.