Yes I Can Challenge Myself

Although I’d been running races for about 4 years, “Yes I can” was not a phrase that regularly crossed my mind during half marathons until the 2017 Colfax Half Marathon. I’d always psych myself out between the 8-10 mile mark. Even if I hadn’t actually bonked, I would start doing the math in my head to calculate my finishing time if I were to walk the rest to justify the more frequent walking breaks.

I was stuck in the 2:20ish time frame for the half marathons I was running. I’d had a breakthrough where I finished under 2:14 at the 2016 RNR San Antonio half, but more so than “Yes I can” I credited my success to it being a sea level race when all my others were at mile-high altitude or higher.

Toeing the line at the 2017 Colfax Half, I was determined to be mentally strong to ensure I had a great race. A few weeks prior, I completed a very hilly half in my usual time range so I knew I was in shape for the flat course. I also purchased a bracelet that said, “She believed she could so she did” – this became my mantra for the race.

As the race started, I saw my paces were under the 10-minute mile mark...I freaked me out. I never ran halfs under 10 minute pace and was often closer to the 11 minute end. I tried to slow down but the faster than usual half marathon pace was what my body wanted to run so I went with it.

When I reached the turn that put me on the long stretch of race on Colfax Avenue, the test began. This stretch of road was where I started walking the last two times I ran the race. But this time I still felt great – both mentally and physically.

As always, I started to do my running math around mile 8. My initial goal for this race was to tie or beat my personal record I had set at sea level but my math didn't allow for walking breaks. I looked down at the pace I was averaging and how long I’d been running and realized I could get under 2:10 if I picked it up just a bit!

I kept repeating to myself a combination of “You got this”, “She Believed She Could So She Did”, and “I can do this”. The 2:09:17 official finish time confirmed what I kept repeating to myself during that race.

Clearing that mental hurdle in the half marathon has helped me tremendously in all areas of running now. It showed me I can excel at long distance races but also made me push more in shorter ones. I PR’d the 5k and 10k the month following that race. And, I am no longer afraid in my training or in races to push the pace. Seeing that improvement and knowing that I can achieve my goals has led me to want to challenge myself and get faster.

This year I ran Colfax again. Starting off with the “Yes I Can” mentality, I made a bet with my dad that I would beat my 2017 time. What were the stakes? He’d buy me new running shoes. I collected on the shoes with a 2:06:24!

So what’s next? More scary impossible goals because Yes I Can break 2:00 hours in the half. Yes, I Can run a marathon. Yes, I can create a consistent cross-training routine. Yes, I Can do whatever I set my mind too and I learned that thanks to running.

*For more from Kalie, you can follow her on Instagram.