2012 was the year I won my first “big” race, the Rite Aid Cleveland Half-Marathon. It was also around that time when I started learning how to believe.
I barely made it home that morning as incoming traffic for an afternoon ballgame forced me to work the clutch repeatedly with late Spring temperatures rising well above 90. Confusion was high as black flag conditions forced the race to shut down early and nobody knew I had won the half because of the 10K finishing concurrently as well as the distance I had put between myself and the second runner.
While I knew the effort was good, I wasn’t happy with the result as I had set my goal on breaking 70 minutes. I came in 39 seconds short and after an extremely brief interview with the newspaper I fell into my normal routine of eat, rest, and prepare for the next one. My mom didn’t recognize the effort either; I will never forget her saying “what’s wrong with you?” as I struggled to sit up while finishing my breakfast at home after the race.
I ran 52:24 for ten miles during my build up for that race; that result gave me confidence in my ability to transition from middle distance to distance and run a decent time on the roads. It was a surprising result and I remember telling my coach from college and enjoying the feeling of achieving something I hadn’t expected to happen. I went into Cleveland with a full head of steam and it was the first time I ever stood confidently at the start line next to all the other runners.
Over the course of many races and “failures” to achieve my goals, I slowly learned how to believe in myself. I realized I was stronger over hills. I realized I could lead and push the pace when the group was lagging. I fought through workouts well over my head with people I had no business running with, but I was stubborn. I never quit. I kept showing up and putting in miles and meeting the right people who helped carry me along my journey.
I could share many tales of my short experience with running but I’ve learned it’s best to look ahead and continue to challenge yourself with new goals, people, and ideas about how to be a runner in the community. I love being around other runners and I’ve decided it’s my passion to help serve and grow the running community. Runners can be a very self-deprecating tribe full of comparison and doubt.
My challenge for all runners is this: when are you going to start believing in yourself?
Good luck and best wishes to everyone racing in Indy on Saturday. I wish I could be there but I will be eagerly waiting to see how your story unfolds. Take a big risk for me.