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Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate running - it's boring, it's hard, it just sucks. Yet, a few days ago I completed my first half marathon! :) So, how does someone who despises running find herself running 13.1 miles? I may hate running, but I love challenging myself. Especially in the physical sense. It wasn't until my early 30's that I really began challenging myself physically. I had always worked out, but I usually just did the same stuff, and I never really pushed myself beyond what I knew I was capable of doing... Then I took on the challenge of my first Figure competition, and everything changed. For the first time I took on a goal that I initially thought would be just a physical transformation, but in reality it was more of a mental transformation. Some may look at competing and think it's just someone trying to look good in a bikini, but for me it's not about that at all... It's all about the mental determination that it takes to push yourself to achieving a goal, as well as an elite level of physical fitness. That mentality has rippled into other areas of my life other than the stage, in my personal and professional life, and other physical challenges including a Tough Mudder and now a half marathon! Something that has been on my "bucket list" of goals for years, but I never believed that I would get around to doing.... Until one day, recently, I decided it was time to cross it off the list. I found an 8 week training schedule, and I signed up! I hated the training, but the race was a blast! During every long training run I would get to the end and feel like I was dying... like I couldn't possibly run one more stride, but then the next week I would go a longer distance! So, even though I dreaded my upcoming running day each week, I did have a sense of accomplishment after it every week - which was great motivation to keep going. I am not a runner by nature, so I had to dig deep into my mental fortitude and push myself beyond the limits my mind had previously set for myself. How did I do this? I didn't give myself the option of not completing the scheduled run. If I was scheduled to run 8 miles, I ran 8 miles... then 9.5 miles, then 11 miles.... Finally, on race day, I did the complete 13.1, AND my competitive nature kicked in and I did it in a much faster time than I was striving for! The mind will quit WAAAAY before the body will. The one thing I've learned from taking on these physical challenges over the past few years is: To accomplish any goal (physical or otherwise) all it takes is the mindset of "there is no stopping until this goal is complete"... There may be failures or roadblocks along the way, and alternative actions may need to be taken, but not getting to the finish line is never an option on the road to success.

I'm proud of myself. I can now officially check this off my goals list. I completed it in 2:01:49, which averaged 9:18/mile. (my goal was a 10 minute mile or less) I got 6th in my age group, and 29th female overall (out of approx 260 runners). Pretty damn good for someone who hates running... If I do say so myself. ;) Up next is my 2nd Tough Mudder in 2 weeks, and then I will give my body a bit of a break and pull back on my training intensity a bit, while I decide what my next challenge/goal will be. I want to take care of my body while I continue to challenge myself. I hope I never run out of goals to strive for, because that is how I know I will continue to improve myself- physically, mentally, spiritually.

If you're stuck in a rut (in any area of life) - pick a physical challenge for yourself - a 5k, a pull-up, an obstacle race - anything. Push yourself until you reach your goal. Don't give yourself the option to quit. You will thank yourself when you have completed it, and it may inspire you to try other things you didn't believe you were capable of doing Trust me. ;)

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