Thursday, December 5, 2013

Reverb 13: Prompt 5 - Challenges

Prompt: Did you take on a new challenge in 2013? Was was it? Are there challenges you deliberately avoided? What do you want to do to challenge yourself in 2014?

I love challenges. And not just in the "Challenge Accepted!" sort of way, although I do. My mom did a great job of teaching me to overcome obstacles, or "challenges" by saying little mantras like "Challenges and opportunities!" - meaning that things aren't hard for the sake of being hard. Any challenge we face becomes an opportunity to succeed, to become stronger, to make the next step a little less brutal. Things do not get easier right away, and I learned to stick with (out-stubborn, if you will) some of the crummier things I have come across.

And it's because of this attitude that she's taught me, I certainly do my best not to avoid any challenges. And I can't think of any that I've avoided this year, or that I was able to avoid. Avoiding things doesn't make them go away! The bills won't, the personal problems won't, the health challenges won't go away.

I have done a few things to challenge my health this year. For example, I took my second attempt at running a half marathon. This was a huge challenge for me given (1) I really hurt myself the last time I tried and (b) I am not really an athletic person. This half marathon also included a fundraising aspect to benefit the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. And putting myself "out there" is an added challenge. Countless strangers across the internet, including many of you, and the support was incredible.

But the thing is, I learned to love running. I took my time with the schedule. I tried to get back on track and the mileage ticked up almost easily. Soon I was up to 3 or 4 miles at a stretch. As the weather warmed, I made it up to 5, 6 and 7 miles at a time. I made it as high as 8 miles this round of training before I re-injured myself. It wasn't even fun like a gravel trail. I was warming up with the running group, heading up a long hill. I was focusing on my chi running form, letting the music guide my intervals as needed. One step - I was great. The next step - failure. Okay, well it's not like I failed, but my body did. Which has always been an emotional challenge of mine - finding the balance and better defining "failure". Can I have really failed if my body simply wasn't ready? Can I have failed if I didn't have control? Well, I made it to the half marathon. I walked it - which was a physical challenge in itself - I didn't quite feel like I "succeeded".

For 2014, I'm trying running again. I'm starting over. From scratch. Even if I feel like I can go further or faster (which I don't), I'm starting over. I got used to the "Runner's High", to the alone time with my thoughts and my music, the selfishness I needed to set the time aside and get away (this is not something I'm usually successful at). Last year I had a high mileage count for this year as a resolution. I didn't make it. Is that a failure? How can it be if I wasn't physically able? It's a question I ask myself a lot.

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