Monday, October 29, 2012

Having Grace... and goals.

I have always been captivated by the virtue of grace. By definition, "graceful" means to be elegant and beautiful, poised and dignified. Living life with grace can be simple when things are going the way we hope or dream, however, most often, we find ourselves seeking our hopes and dreams without ever feeling fully satisfied - we often never feel fully accomplished (as we shouldn't - that's part of the drive to always push ourselves to be better).  This thirst to achieve our hopes and dreams to our highest capabilities provides us with numerous opportunities to deal with failure and disappointment.  These are the times I find living with grace the most challenging.  How do we pick ourselves up and live with poise and dignity among our feelings of defeat or failure? How do we continue to push ourselves towards our hopes, our dreams, our greatest desires, even when we don't feel like we have it in ourselves anymore?

I wish I had the perfect answer to these questions.  But I don't... Not even close. Finding ways to live with grace, even amidst disappointment, is really and truly part of my journey in life. I would like to think that I have learned and grown at living more gracefully, but I also know, many of those lessons have come the hard way.

This past weekend I had my first real experience back at racing in quite some time.  It was the first race since I had begun to string together some solid time training; workouts, long runs, 40 mile weeks... I was nervous for the race long before I should have been.  I was hesitant and I doubted my ability. I lacked the confidence I should have had, and I lacked the guts I needed to put it out on the line.  After some honest reflection, I put myself in this frame of mind because I was afraid to be disappointed after so much effort. It's ironic to me because I had literally just finished three days of parent-student-teacher conferences where I looked students in the eye and confidently convinced them that risk and failure create bold opportunities for growth. Why couldn't I follow my own advice?

I approached the start line this weekend with a hesitant enthusiasm. I wanted to be in the game, but I was afraid to step to the line (especially in my newly donned Oiselle jersey... where I wanted to represent the team proudly and successfully). I was afraid to commit. I can honestly say that I pushed myself as hard as I could around Greenlake on Sunday. But when I finished I was discouraged, let down, fatigued, and worn out. I kept wondering how this could happen again. Why did I struggle to find success even when I had been pouring my heart into running 7 days a week? Why was it so hard to race well even when the joy of running was keeping me awake at night sometimes? Why was the one thing I cared about so deeply such a cause of frustration?

.... Because I was afraid to let myself find what I was capable of accomplishing ....

Even though I pushed myself as hard as I could on Sunday, it wasn't my best. By far. It wasn't my best because I wasn't ready to put my best out there yet.  I wasn't ready to let myself feel vulnerable and to set a goal. Even though I have my own personal goals engrained in my head (and I have for years), I wasn't ready to put them out there just yet.

Well... lesson learned - the disappointment came anyway.

Crossing the finish line was hard on Sunday. I knew that I was no where near finishing in a time that I know I was capable of reaching.  But I chose to find my inner grace and cross the line anyways (not that this was ever really a question... but metaphorically speaking). I gave myself five minutes to feel sorry for myself, and then I realized sulking about a bad race wasn't worth it. Rather, I knew I should be celebrating in the joy of my teammate who rocked it on the course and came away with a victory. Fighting the conflict of sulking around or living with grace, I tried to choose grace on Sunday, and I hope I continue to do so throughout my journey.

So... here there are. My running goals: 

- 5k: 19:30
- 10k: 44:00 
- 13.1: 1:29:00 

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