Just Do It For You
What is your impossible goal?
That’s the question I’ve been challenging the Badass Lady Gang to answer and then chase since I decided to chase my own impossible back in 2016.
DARE TO FAIL! I’ve screamed from the rooftops. THE ONLY WAY YOU FAIL IS IF YOU FAIL TO TRY! I repeat over, and over, and over, and over again.
I do my best to lead by example. My first attempt to BQ, I didn’t make my impossible possible. And my second try derailed me so hard, it took me months to recover. I didn’t even make it to race day on my third try. And after two and a half years spent learning and relearning about doubt, pain, injuries, pushing my limits, and believing in myself, I’m now three weeks away from my fourth attempt to make my impossible possible.
My relationship to running and my impossible goal is deeply personal. I started running because I didn’t really know what else to do. I was drowning in grief and I didn’t really know what to do with my life. I was struggling to take a step forward because I was paralyzed by a fear of failing.
And that is precisely why such I’m a huge advocate for chasing impossible goals. Impossible forces me outside of my comfort zone and rethink the way I challenge myself or what I think I’m capable of. Impossible helped me understand what failure actually looks like and to my complete and total astonishment, it had nothing to do with falling short of your goals.
Which is easy for me to say now that I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’ve seen first hand how transformative and life changing it can be to set a goal that you truly don’t believe you’re capable of achieving. And it didn’t just start with this crazy journey to try to qualify for the Boston Marathon, it really started in 2010 when I committed to this goal of losing the 75+ pounds I gained after my younger brother Scott passed away.
THAT is a goal that felt impossible. For decades, I’d unsuccessfully dieted or starved myself in an attempt to lose weight and keep it off. And for the first time in my life, I wasn’t trying to lose 10-20 pounds. I was fighting to get control of my life again and adopt a true healthy lifestyle change.
No one knew except for my Mom and the Professor who taught the Nutrition course I elected to take to fulfill a science credit. Eventually, I had to tell close friends who noticed I never wanted to go out to eat or that I brought the same salad and roasted vegetables to eat for lunch and dinner.
But I didn’t want anyone to know. I lived in constant fear of the story I made up in my head of how they felt sorry for me because they knew I’d never lose the weight. Or that they’d judge me if I had something they didn’t think I should be eating.
It was exhausting.
But eventually, weeks turned into months and months turned into a year and for the first time in my life, I’d actually made a goal that I truly didn’t believe I was capable of accomplishing possible.
And a year later I became a runner and did it again when I ran a half marathon. And then a marathon.
Then my impossible became breaking 2-hours in the half and 4-hours in the full. Both took multiple attempts and even though I doubted myself what felt like every single step of the way, eventually, I did it.
But chasing my impossible and trying to BQ was different. The reason I wanted to share the journey publicly was because I wanted to show the transformation. I never was able to relate to anyone’s stories when I was trying to lose weight or break 2 in the half. No one was talking about what it was like to set a goal they didn’t think they were capable of and then failing multiple times before making it happen. We didn’t see the frustrations, the fears, and the heart break first hand. It was always the after story. We heard about it after it happened.
But something I didn’t anticipate when I decided to launch BQ or Bust was the pressure that would come with chasing a goal I didn’t think I was capable of publicly.
The beauty of BQ or Bust was that I was totally ignorant to what was in store. I’d never really done speed work or had a race plan going into a race. I’d kind of showed up and did my best to believe in myself. That was hard enough! Suddenly, I had paces I had to hit that I didn’t even think I was capable of holding for a few minutes, yet alone for an entire half marathon.
IT WAS TERRIFYING. AND EXHILARATING. AND LIFE CHANGING.
But there comes a point on your journey where impossible stops feeling impossible and actually starts to seem kind of possible. Maybe it’s taken years. Maybe it’s taken months. But eventually, the crazy roller coaster stops racing between super high highs and really low lows and starts barreling towards your finish line and for me, that’s been the scariest part of the ride.
Because for me, the second impossible starts to feel possible, that’s when the pressure of “WHAT IF” starts to set in.
When you’re chasing impossible, you’re protected by this insurance policy of “THIS IS PROBABLY NEVER, EVER GOING TO HAPPEN SO WHY NOT TRY AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS?”. IT’S LIBERATING. You literally have nothing to lose!
Until you start to think you do…
The second you put your goal out there, be it online or to people you care about, we attach stakes to them. We start to forget our ‘Why’ and the moments that inspired us to try and see what happens when we dare to fight to put our strongest foot forward day after day after day after day. And instead, we start to focus on what happens when we fail. We’re invested. We finally believe that we’re capable of more than we ever thought possible, and yet for so many of us, suddenly, it feels impossible to give ourselves permission to succeed. Or envision success instead of failure.
And some us start to self-sabotage.
Or limit ourselves.
Or we start to give into the fear of failure and figure out how we can step just far enough outside of our comfort zone without really going for it and seeing what happens.
Maybe it’s running your first half marathon. Or marathon. Breaking 2 in the half. Maybe it’s breaking 4, 5, or 6 in the full. Maybe it’s qualifying for Boston or the Olympic Trials. It doesn’t matter what your crazy dream is, making impossible possible doesn’t just require your best effort every single day. It means that you have to figure out how to actually believe in yourself.
A few weeks ago, I panicked and found myself looking for an emergency exit. The pressure was starting to materialize and I was struggling to wrap my head around where I was at in my training and what my finishing time would be when I crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon.
The real reason I was panicked was because I knew I was about to go to a Nike photo shoot where I’d not only have to admit my impossible goal, but possibly have it plastered around New York City and social media.
What if I fail?
I’m probably going to fail!
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I FAIL?!?
Not only will I have to get those sympathy hugs from my friends and family, but there might be billboards and social media videos blasting my impossible goal to BQ to the world!
I WAS SHOOK.
Luckily, this isn’t the first time chasing impossible has thrown me into a panic spiral and I know how important it is to reach out for help whenever I feel pressure or forget my why. So I reached out to one of my Project Moonshot coaches Rebeka Stowe and the guy who helped me embrace my identity as an athlete, Dr. Bob. I told them both that I was starting to lose sight of what I was doing because I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and I didn’t know what to do.
(ALRIGHT! The truth is, I emailed Rebeka asking her to tell me what I wanted to hear and she was like LOL, let’s talk about what’s actually going on. Then, once I get a better understanding of where your head is at, we can set your A, B, and C time goals.)
I still don’t know what my A, B, and C time goals will be.
And that’s OK.
BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW HOW MANY TIMES I HAVE TO LEARN AND RE-LEARN THIS BUT IT’S NOT ABOUT THE F*CKING TIME.
It really isn’t.
I know it isn’t.
But the second I start to doubt myself, I associate failing with a finishing time. And we all know that failure is failing to give your personal best effort. Period.
Everything we do and dream shapes the lives we want to be living. By setting an impossible goal and then setting out to see what you’re capable of, you’re living your best life. You’re not settling. You’re not stuck wondering what if. You’re actively fighting and working to become the strongest version of yourself possible.
But that’s not to say that it’s all sunshine and rainbows. The road to impossible is a tough one. It’s full of fear and anxiety. And that anxiety is the thing that makes us stop trusting our hearts and our dreams. It makes us question whether we’re doing the right thing. Or if taking risks is worth the set-backs, road blocks, sacrifices, and heartbreaks. Or the doubt. OH THE DOUBTS.
But the answer is yes. Because you don’t know what you’re capable of until you try. Our limits are constantly changing. But you won’t be able to overcome those fears and anxieties until you trust your dream. Until you trust your strength, courage, grit, and power. Making impossible possible doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not about making a game plan, executing it, and getting it done. It’s about embracing change and seeing what happens when you give your best effort day in and day out. Going with the flow. Adapting. Growing. Patience.
We have to think of our impossible goals like a dream. And that dream is the thing that gives us direction. It inspires and motivates you to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge the faith you have in yourself. Your dream and what you do to make that dream a reality is what helps you become the person you strive to become. To reach your fullest potential. And that’s not something you can just check off a list. That’s not something that’s tied to a finishing time or number on a scale.
It’s a life long mission to better your best and discover what you’re capable of.
After a week of just retreating and mind f*cking myself into a shame cave, Dr. Bob and Coach Stowe both helped me remember that my goal isn’t to BQ. My goal is just to see what I’m capable of.
When I set my goal to BQ, I did it because I didn’t think I would ever be capable of doing the work to qualify for Boston. Taking myself seriously enough to stick with it when training got really, really hard seemed impossible. And I thought I would quit. But I didn’t. I’m still fighting and most importantly, I’m still having fun.
I don’t know if I’m going to BQ. Qualifying for Boston, as of today, is still impossible. I just don’t know. No one knows. But all I can do is focus on what I can control. My attitude. My choices. What I’m actively doing to get stronger. And instead of feeling anxious every time I ask myself, “Am I good enough?” Ask, “Are you doing everything you can? Are you giving your best effort right now?”
The answer is yes.
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right.” - Henry Ford
I’ve been going back and re-listening to a lot of my talks with Dr. Bob both on the vlog and on my podcast and when he said that to me, I started laughing my ass off.
It’s incredible how quickly everything I’ve learned goes out the window the second I start to feel like I’m going to fail. And I know I’m not alone. So whenever you feel yourself questioning whether you are going to make your impossible possible, try to remember your why. Because for me, trying to BQ was never about the time. It was about having the courage to chase a goal that I didn’t think I was capable of.
I don’t know what is going to happen come November 4th. My biggest goal is to get to that starting line knowing that I’ve done everything I possibly can to be the strongest version of me possible. That’s all I want.
Chasing my impossible changed my life. It really has. I watch old BQ or Bust vlogs and the difference of how I talk to and about myself is incredible.
I don’t care what time I cross that finish line in. Just knowing how much I’ve grown over the last two and a half years makes it all worth it. This race is for me. Just for me. The fact that you all get to come with me is just icing on the giant sheet cake I’m going to consume the second I cross that finish line.
No regrets. No excuses. Just my personal best.
Then sheet cake.