It was a beautiful day last Friday. The temperature settled in the 70’s and the sun was out most of the day.
Today, just three days later, I write to you from the comfort of my couch. Why? A snow day. Yes, you read that right. 70 degrees three days ago, enough snow to shut down school today. Growing up in Niagara Falls, NY and now living an hour and a half east in Rochester, NY, I’ve grown used to the temperamental climate in late November. It’s not uncommon to experience all four seasons within a day or two.
During this three-day stretch of shifting temperature and increased precipitation, I managed to coordinate my weekend run directly at its climax. I’ve been training for a half-marathon for a few months now, and have enjoyed the challenge of stretching my runs further and further. This past weekend I was looking to hit the 11-mile mark. I even entertained the idea of flirting with 13.1 if my body was up for it. I suited up, stretched out and headed out the door in shorts and a t-shirt. It was Saturday afternoon, and the weather still carried the warmth that Friday had. I figured I would be more than comfortable as my body worked up a sweat for the next hour and a half or more.
Boy was I wrong.
As I pushed on through the first few miles, I could see the clouds begin to darken. I thought to myself, “A little rain can’t hurt.” Wrong again. As the rain started to come down, the temperature took a dramatic shift downward as well. Remember, I was out there in a t-shirt and shorts. I would say it was about 45-50 degrees and the rain made it feel even colder. That wasn’t even the worst problem: I was only about 4 miles into my run. On top of that, I had routed my run so that it would take me as far away from my apartment as possible before turning me around to head home. So, I’m 4 miles away (and counting) from my home, running through rain bordering on hail. At that point, I had two options: call my wife and ask her to come pick me up or finish what I started. I decided to carry on and run all the way home. I had to talk myself into continuing with every 100 ft or so, but I kept on moving.
There were certain moments when I could feel my arms vibrating from their affliction to the cold. The closer I got to my apartment, the destination that would yield my 11-mile goal, the more imperative it was that I finished. The most challenging part of all came in the last mile. The little voice from MapMyRun delivered the message of “10 miles” and almost simultaneously, a hail storm came raining down. I kept running because I knew I was SO close to home. As I approached, that MapMyRun voice had yet to deliver the congratulations of “11 miles” in my ears, so I actually had to run past my warm, comforting, dry apartment to reach the 11-mile goal. I finally heard the good news through my headphones and threw my hands up. I was done. I had reached my goal, and I had a warm apartment waiting for me.
I feel that this particular run can serve as an incredible allegory for life’s ambitions. My run started with great expectations. The weather was perfect. My goal was lofty but achievable given my training. There was nothing but promise ahead as I ventured out. But then, the weather turned. Doubt reared it’s ugly head. Should I keep going? Am I going to make it? Is this even worth it? Why keep going when I have a perfectly comfortable, warm apartment to get home to?
If you’ve set goals in your life, this has surely happened to you. If it hasn’t, it eventually will. You get started with the fire of ambition, courage, and zeal because you’re starting something you’re excited about. Unfortunately, the world often doesn’t offer easy passage to new goals no matter how ambitious you are. There will be obstacles. There will be frustration. The weather will turn.
When it does, you need to remind yourself of why you began in the first place. Why do you want to succeed? Why do you want to grow? Why is it important to you? If you keep your answers to these questions close by, no obstacle will be enough to stop you. It may slow you down, it may cause you to change course, but it won’t be enough to let you quit.
Don’t let your obstacles make you turn and run for your comfort zone. Create a new comfort zone. One where you’re comfortable with being uncomfortable. That is where you grow. That is where you change. That is where you succeed.
I wasn’t going to let the freezing rain or the miles ahead let me seek the comfort of my warm and cozy home. I pressed on because 11 miles was the goal and I wasn’t going to be satisfied until I got there.
I got there. I froze my ass off in the process. But when the weather turned, I kept moving towards my goal. I hope you do the same.
Until next time,