Learning to Fail (or at least, be ok with it)

Running is one of the most physically demanding activities that we can do. It takes your entire body, working in perfect harmony, for everything to go as planned on any given run. More often than most runners would like to admit, things don’t go according to plan – nutrition, hydration, muscle/mental fatigue, and sometimes a combination of multiple factors can all throw off your running game.

For a long time, I let the intimidation (ok, fear) of getting everything perfectly right for 26.2 miles push me away from ever wanting to run a marathon. I was completely happy continuing to run halves and other, shorter races. Until I wasn’t.

Two years ago, I had just completed my first Ragnar Relay race – a 200(ish) mile relay, with 11 other awesome people – in which I had run 4 legs, for a grand total of 19.5 miles. I had never run that far before, and I was hooked. So, I thought, what the heck! Why not try for a marathon?

I trained, and trained, and then trained some more for the Portland Marathon that October. Things went really well for the first half of the race – I was on cloud nine. But then, the second half, or more specifically, the last 10k, happened. I won’t go into too many details, but it felt like my race had completely fallen apart. I spent that last 6(ish) miles, feeling like I had failed, because things weren’t going according to my plan.

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But, then I made it to the finish line, and realized what I had accomplished. The wave of excitement (and endorphins) about actually completing those 26.2 miles was like nothing I’d ever felt before. I fell even more in love with running right then, and knew that I’d be back for more.

Sure, I had “failed”, but running  is more about the journey than the end result. Would I have liked things to go according to plan? Absolutely. But, I’m no less of a marathoner, and no less of a runner, because of it.

Learning to be able to accept things not working out the way I want them to, and learn from it, is one of the most important things I’ve learned from running.

If you’ve read my blog posts from late 2016, you know that I spent the better part of four months studying for a big exam that I took in the beginning of December. It was the first of three exams that I would need to pass in order to get a professional certification that could help me advance my career.

I’ve been bracing myself for nearly two months now, waiting on the results to come out. I knew that I had done everything that I could to be successful on this test, and the results were out of my control, so, honestly, I was trying to not think about it too much.

My blissful ignorance bubble was burst today – the exam results were emailed out.  Unfortunately, things didn’t work out the way that I wanted them to. Despite all of my hard work, I didn’t do well enough to pass this time. I’ve taken this test before, with the same result, and while this wasn’t entirely unexpected, I’m still left feeling disappointed.

I haven’t decided what my next move is going to be, but I know that this result doesn’t invalidate all of the hard work I put in to taking this test. Not passing this test doesn’t make me worse at my job, nor does it make me any less intelligent.

Like my first marathon, I know I’ll be back for more – I just have to decide what that “more” looks like.

3 thoughts on “Learning to Fail (or at least, be ok with it)

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