Bucket lists, dream boards, New Year’s resolutions, journals, Pinterest. Most people have a place that they keep goals they want to accomplish in their lifetime. I was always a “list” person. I used to write lists of what my lists were and keep them all organized in a binder. I was doing “extreme listing” before anyone ever dreamed up “extreme couponing.”
I started my “Life Goals” list when I was in 8th grade. Life Goal #1, “Marry Justin Timberlake.” Come on, I was only 14, and I truly believed that I was going to marry him. The really funny part is that I didn’t change that goal until I graduated high school. Aside from my somewhat delusional #1 dream, the rest of my goals I made back then stayed on the list until I crossed them off: Move to Florida (2007), live on the beach (2012), travel to Europe (2005), go to Hawaii (2011 & 2012), graduate from college (2007), see the ball drop in Time’s Square (2005 & 2006), go on a cruise (2007, 2008, & 2010). Almost all of them had to do with some form of traveling.
By the time I graduated from college, I needed some new life goals. Thankfully, I began to incorporate a little fitness into my life. In 2008, after watching the Summer Olympics, I added “Run a Half-Marathon” to the list. After I finished my first half-marathon in January 2009, I changed the goal to “Run a Half-Marathon Every Year.” In 2011, when I was running up the side of a volcano crater on my honeymoon in Hawaii, I felt like I could run forever. (That “run forever” feeling was long gone at about mile 24 of my actual marathon ha-ha) That morning, I mentally added “Run a Marathon” to my Life Goals list. When I got home to my physical list, “Run a Marathon” officially became Life Goal #8, preceded by Life Goal #7, “Quit my Job.” (Also mentally noted while in Hawaii, and accomplished 2 weeks after I returned from my honeymoon!)
I began 2012 knowing that this would be the year I would train to run a marathon. To give myself plenty of training time, I began officially training in June, with the Space Coast Marathon being in November. I would love to say that I was pumped up and believed in myself the whole time but that just wasn’t the case. Some days of training, especially during the summer, felt like torture, while other days I felt burnt out with running all-together. Other days I felt like having super-sized fries and a jumbo milkshake for every meal, however, I refrained. I had kind of a mantra that I would say to myself on the days that I didn’t think I could make it, “Not every run will be easy or feel good. If running a marathon was easy, everyone would do it.” Reminding myself of this reality helped to keep me focused on the task at hand. I took each training goal one day at a time, and I tried to think of the 26.2 mile goal as just another day of running.
When the day of the Space Coast Marathon arrived, I had worked up quite an anxious feeling in my stomach, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from myself. While I had previously run 3 half-marathons without stopping, I didn’t know if that would be a possibility during a full marathon. I still wasn’t quite sure how people ran for several hours at a time without using the bathroom! Figuring in bathroom stops and stops to stretch, at the very least, my goal was to take no longer than 5 hours. As soon as the marathon began, the anxious feeling disappeared, replaced with nothing but adrenaline. I ran the first 13.1 miles pretty easily with no need to stop, and I still felt great. In my mind, I kept waiting for “the wall” that is very common in running long distances. At mile 20, I was still going strong, and I couldn’t believe there were only 6.2 miles left. I could feel every muscle in my leg working and begging for a break, but I had to keep going. The vision of lying down in the grass with my brand new Space Coast Marathon towel after I crossed the finish line kept me going for the last few miles. At mile 23, I told myself that if I could make it 23 miles without stopping, then I could make it another 3.2. When I hit mile 25, I told myself it was all or nothing, so I started to speed up. By this point, I just wanted it to be over, I wanted my medal, and I wanted a huge bucket of Gatorade dumped on my head, like they do to the coaches at sporting events. So I ran harder and faster than I ever had before, and I crossed the finish line. No bathroom stops, no stops to stretch, just straight running for 26.2 miles.
4 hours 24 minutes and 22 seconds: The amount of time it took to complete Life Goal #8. I achieved this goal far beyond my own expectations, and I surpassed limitations that I placed on myself. It wasn’t easy, and it certainly didn’t feel good the whole time, but I did something that many people will never achieve. I am an actual marathon runner.
I say all of this to encourage each one of you who are reading this. You really can achieve whatever you set your mind to. (Unless it is to marry a celebrity…I wish you luck on that one!) I had dreams of traveling when I was young and dreams of moving somewhere that I loved. It didn’t take much to accomplish, just a plan of action and determination to achieve what I wanted. Once I finished my original goals, I added new ones, and now, I am crossing them off my list. With 2013 quickly approaching, stop and think about what you want to accomplish in your life. Make a list of resolutions, goals, dreams, wishes, whatever you want to call them, and start crossing things off your list. You will feel so empowered with each goal that you accomplish.
Top Songs from my Marathon Playlist:
“Titanium” David Guetta ft Sia
“Price Tag” Jessie J
“Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” Journey
“War/Fanfare” Vince DiCola, Rocky Soundtrack
“Training Montage” Vince DiCola, Rocky Soundtrack
Ashley Shih has lived on the Space Coast for the past 5 years, and she can be seen training for marathons by the beaches of Brevard. Her goal is to share the ups and downs of her fitness experiences with readers, in order to help them with their lifestyle goals. Please email her with questions or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/ashleyerinshih.