“Dream big and dare to fail”

Dare to fail. What a concept. How often do we avoid trying things, not because we’re afraid of the challenge but because we’re afraid to fail? This could have been true of my dream to run the Boston Marathon – well, not so much running the race, qualifying for it.

For those who don’t know, the Boston Marathon isn’t one of those races a person just signs up for and gets to run. Everyone who wants to run this prestigious marathon (unless you’re a celebrity, wealthy or have some inside info I don’t know about) has to first qualify to earn a spot. I’m not sure when I decided I really wanted to run the Boston Marathon but about three years ago is when I remember starting my quest to qualify.

Two years ago, I made my first attempt to qualify at the 2013 Fargo Marathon. I didn’t change up my training or nutrition from years past and it was hot and humid on race day.
The outcome: I failed.

Last year, I attempted again at the 2014 Fargo Marathon. I focused more on speed work but didn’t change much else with my training, nor did I change my nutrition. I ran the best and hardest marathon of my life, enjoyed it and improved my previous PR by several minutes.
The outcome: I still failed.

That moment you realize you just qualified for the Boston Marathon.

That moment you realize you just qualified for the Boston Marathon.

This year, I attempted a third time at last Saturday’s Fargo Marathon. I pushed my speed work runs and my long run schedule, and made overall tweaks to my training plan. I committed to leg workouts every week – heavy leg workouts. I cleaned up my nutrition and focused on quality foods and supplements that would support my training and properly fuel my body. I sought out more outside advice from reliable sources and did more research on my own. I practiced my running strategy for marathon day with every longer run throughout my training.
The outcome: I succeeded.

On Saturday, I achieved my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon in a time of 3:30:49 (a sub-3:35 race is what my age group needs to qualify). I’ve struggled to sum up the feelings and emotion in a blog entry. I always assumed, if I ever did qualify, I’d know exactly how to describe it. Easiest blog I’d ever write! Not so much. Sure, words like ecstatic, proud, relieved and happy came to mind but I could go on with words forever.

I decided, rather than talk about how I feel now that I’ve achieved my goal, I’d use my journey to a BQ as an example. An example of how you can’t let fear get in the way of trying to achieve something big. I don’t mean that to sound like a really lame After-School-Special and I know it does. But I’m being serious!

Was it a dream to think I could ever qualify for this race? Absolutely. If you had asked me seven years ago, after I finished my first full marathon in something like 4:18 and change, I would have laughed and said that was never something I could do – but I’d still love to run another marathon.

This guy - he always believed I'd succeed. #lucky

This guy – he always believed I’d succeed. #lucky

When I decided to go for the BQ, for the third year in a row, was I afraid I would fail a third time in a row? I was terrified. I’ve never been so nervous for a run. But I wanted it so bad and, when I thought about not doing it at the start of my training this year, something inside me told me I had to. That it was worth it to try again. When I failed the first time, I learned. And I got better. When I failed the second time, I learned. And I got better. Even if I failed a third time, chances are I would learn something. And I would get better. Part of it came down to my determined attitude. The other half, a simple cost/benefit analysis. The outcome of succeeding would be the best thing and the outcome of failing? Well, it wouldn’t be the worst thing!

What dream have you gone after, knowing you could fail? Or (and you can be honest!), what dream have you held back from chasing because you were afraid to fail? Post a comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311. Then, face your fears and try! After all, what’s the worst thing that could happen?


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