When I started this blog, I planned to write about running and sewing. Since then, it's largely been sewing-focused, but something happened today that drove me to write my first running-focused blog post.
Earlier today, I dropped out of the Big Sur International Marathon between mile 14 and 15. I had struggled for the previous half mile, and had two very sharp muscle spasms at mile 14 and I realized that I had a choice between soldiering on and hoping to make it to the end (or mile 21 for the major sweep) and risk permanent injury or admitting that something was wrong and taking myself out at the med stop after mile 14. I chose to take myself out.
I was perfectly comfortable with my decision while waiting for the SAG wagon and on the ride back to the finisher's village. However, when my cell phone got service back forty minutes later, I was flooded with texts and notifications of my friends and family wishing me luck on the marathon. Since Big Sur doesn't have cell service, I had been incommunicado since 5AM. As soon as the messages started coming in, I lost it. I bawled. I made a race official bawl. Just writing this blog post, I'm tearing up. It was the first moment I regretted my decision and the reality of it set in. To be honest, my biggest fear while training for my first marathon was what people would think of me if I failed, rather than the marathon itself.
So, I did what any social media-adept millenial would do: I posted on Facebook. I admitted my failure, my gratitude for the well wishes, and my apologies for disappointing my friends. I didn't expect responses, but to my astonishment, I received love and comments from nearly 50 of my friends, some of whom I had no idea knew that I was running a marathon.
I'm a Type-A perfectionist; I don't really fail at things. If I don't think I'll succeed, I never try. For me, failing the marathon was notable for a number of reasons:
My experience got me thinking: why don't we let ourselves fail more? I learned more from failing today than I would have if I had succeeded. I learned about myself, my limits, and my fears. I learned how to control a panic attack alone in the middle of nowhere. I learned that while I can be beaten, I cannot be broken.
Pardon my Brené Brown interlude, but what would happen if we all challenged ourselves to do something that we had a high chance of failing at? I truly think that we'd all be more humble, hopeful, and work harder. We'd be less scared of the unknown and we'd reach our amazing potential.
I think maybe we are afraid to fail because of social media. (This is awkward for me to admit, since I'm a social media professional.) I know it sounds obvious, but marathons are hard. Half marathons are hard. 10Ks are hard. 5Ks are hard. In our running-event heavy society, we sometimes forget that. How often do you see someone post a picture of them and their medal on social media compared to them admitting that a run didn't go well or that they failed?
Here's my challenge to you: do something that scares you. Let yourself fail. Document the process. Share it. Grow: it's the only way we'll get better and evolve. As for me, I fully intend to try Big Sur again next year, if the marathon lottery gods smile upon me. If not, I'll be doing the 21-miler and conquering Hurricane Point.
How will you fail?