I ran my first marathon on October 3, 2004 at the age of 43. I’d been a casual runner my whole life, but always thought that running a marathon was something “other” people did, and certainly not something an old fart like me could even consider. In 2003 I was working at North Dakota State University when a colleague of mine, Joe Mike Jones, mentioned in casual conversation that he had run two marathons when he was in his 40’s. I knew then that if Joe Mike could do it, so could I.
As I learned how to train for a marathon, I discovered the biggest barriers to accomplishing this goal were between my ears. It’s amazing what your body can do once your mind gets with the program. I learned a lot about how to train from a good book by Hal Higdon, but I learned the most from two very gracious women that let me crash their party and train with them. They taught me much of what I know today about how to prepare for a marathon.
I really enjoyed that first marathon, so much so that I set a goal to run 10 marathons before I turned 50. I pursued my goal with determination and ran my 7th marathon in May 2007 and my 8th marathon in June of 2007, only two weeks apart. That summer I was training for marathons 9 and 10 when the wheels feel off my bus.
For the next three years, I struggled to run even 5 miles, never fully recovering from the effects of my injury. It was very discouraging, but I never gave up, never quit, never lost hope. Even though my body kept telling me “game over,” I always believed that I would eventually find a way to recover and get back on track.
I ran my 9th marathon on December 4, 2011 and just completed my 10th on April 29, 2012. I’m already 50 now, so technically I did not accomplish my goal, but that’s not the story I’m telling myself.
My 10th marathon was The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, and it was an extremely well organized and very moving event. Race day was warm, humid, and rainy – very challenging for a heavy runner like me – so I was totally wasted by mile 20. But as I struggled through those last 6.2 miles of the race I reflected on how thankful I was to be alive and healthy, and I was equally thankful that I was able to participate in a tribute to the 168 innocent people that lost their lives to domestic terrorism in my home state of Oklahoma on April 19, 1995.
It took me 7 years to accomplish that goal. My next goal is to stay healthy and continue running at least one marathon a year until I am selected via the lottery to run in the NYC Marathon (I don’t see myself ever qualifying for the Boston Marathon). I did not get selected this year, but hopefully sometime in the next few years I will get selected and have a chance to accomplish this new goal.
In June, I’ll start training for The Biz Johnson Marathon in October 2012 .
What’s your goal accomplishment story? Have you struggled through difficult circumstances to achieve a goal that really mattered to you? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!