Dare Greatly in 2016

My Half-Marathon Story of Failure

1.10 Miles

This fall I finished the Chicago half marathon. With over 15,000 other runners in downtown Chicago, I was one of the few “athletes” who trained and fought to get to the finish line, get a big medal, lots of fanfare, and a deep sense of accomplishment. Want to hear more about it?

I don’t either.

Chances are like me, you may feel like you’re barely able to make ends meet and simply survive. Rather than share pictures of me hitting the finish line and sharing “what’s possible”, I wanted to share with you something different: my failure.

The Beginning

My daughter Grace and I after a triumphant 5-mile run.

My daughter Grace and I after a triumphant 5-mile run.

Last spring my daughter and I began training. I was an exercise for both of us in developing new disciplines in our lives. I was to submit myself to her and build the discipline of running/exercising. She was to submit herself to me to build disciplines of organization, helpfulness, and – well – discipline.  My first training run I ran 1.83 miles.

1.83

My lungs were on fire and my body felt like it was going to stop working. At that moment, there was no way I could even dream of running 13.1 miles – Not even close. I didn’t even make it back to my house running. Gasping for breath and with my legs hurting, I limped home defeated and discouraged.

Three days later I ran 1.84. Two days later 2 miles. A week later 3.5. A month later after building some confidence, I could only run 1.1 miles. The week before the race I was supposed to run 10 miles. I made it 6. Then finally, I hit the finish line after running 13.1. It was an inconsistent experience. No big finish. No big reveal. It was a training season with more downs than ups.

Daring Greatly

I’m a huge Brene Brown fan. My wife has read all of her books and I usually read them after the fact. Coincidentally, as I was taking the train to Chicago for the race, I began reading Daring Greatly. Brown uses a famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt as the inspiration for the book:

It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

To Resolve, Or Not To Resolve?

As I enter this new year, I need to remember that 13.1 is nice, but giving 100% for 1.83 is just as courageous. I think sometimes my most courageous runs were the ones where I didn’t feel good, where my back was aching, where I was tired, and when the weather was 90 degrees with 1000% humidity and aim for three miles and only make it 1 mile. Maybe the more courageous runs were when my daughter and I weren’t together but when I ran alone in less-than-ideal conditions.

It’s the beginning of 2016 and I’m not really a “resolution-guy”. I don’t know why. But this year I’m re-thinking the art of the resolution.

  • I’m 30 pounds overweight.
  • I’m inconsistent in reading the Bible regularly.
  • I’m inconsistent in journaling and prayer.

Basically, I’m inconsistent. Honestly, I’m a mess. But I think rather than trying to resolve to lose 30 pounds, read my Bible, journal, blog, pray daily, and a bunch of other commitments, maybe what Theodore Roosevelt and Brene Brown are trying to say to us is: Just get in the game. I need to lose 30 pounds. I can’t think that far ahead. But today I’m choosing to drink 64oz of water and not eat a half of a pizza and wash it down with a half-dozen Christmas cookies. I’ll read my Bible for 5-minutes and pray a bit. I’ll just focus on today. Look for my win today. And if I don’t make it, I’ll try again tomorrow.

Rather than looking for the picture-perfect finish, consider joining me to simply look today for your 1.83 miles. What is it? Don’t necessarily look at the 13.1. Look at today. This hour. This moment. Maybe 2016 is the year for you to dare greatly. Just get in the arena. Don’t worry about conquering it. Maybe the win for you and I this year is just to begin.

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