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Editor’s Corner: Never Count Yourself Out

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My Lesson of the Week? Never count yourself out.

A little back story: I’m currently training for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. When I first put this race on my calendar, my goal was to break 3:15 (my p.r. is 3:18). However, after a shaky start involving a 14-mile training run that included a lot of walking, sitting, cursing and tears, I made some serious goal modifications. Well, as long as I finish, I will be happy. . .

Because it was motivated by this, my revised goal felt icky.

Last Sunday, I had an 18-mile long run on my schedule, and I was terrified. Hoping for moral support, I asked my friend Christine who’s currently training for a marathon herself if she would go with me. She told me that she was doing the Florida Beach Halfathon that morning. Afraid that I wouldn’t be able to finish 18 miles on my own, I signed up for the race thinking that I’d run it as part of my training run with 2.5 miles before and after.

The Florida Beach Halfathon takes place here. Pretty nice, right?

As I drove to the race start in the pitch dark, I could still feel the sinking feeling of self-doubt in my stomach. I shuffled through the 2.5 miles I had planned before the race, and chatted with some friends at the starting line before finding my spot way back in the pack. “I’m only doing this as part of my training run!”  I explained to someone right before the gun.

Starting in the dark.

When the gun fired, the lead women took off. I can’t believe how fast they’re going, I thought to myself. I could never keep up with that pace. I let people fly past me as I slogged out from the starting line. The first mile went okay, the second the same, the third was okay to. . . Around the sixth mile I realized something—I felt pretty good! This came as a total shock. Hey, I’m half way done, I thought. I can push the pace a little bit.

I started running a little faster…then a little faster. I began to pass the same people who had blown by me at the start. “You look great!” I heard one spectator say. “Keep it moving!” While race photos prove I looked less than great, I felt awesome, and I kept chugging toward the finish.

Coming down the final stretch, I was so happy. I was almost done, and there had been no walking, no cursing and no tears. “Go!” I heard someone yell. “You can break 1:30!” I sprinted it in and crossed the line in 1:29:54— a new half marathon p.r., and a second-place overall finish.

Christine crossed a minute later, and we went out for a 2.5-mile cool down, making it 18.1 miles for the day.

Christine (left) ran a P.R. too!

The fact that I was able to achieve this helped me remember: Never count yourself out. Just because there are some bumps in the road, doesn’t mean you’re not headed somewhere wonderful. Cleveland, here I come! (You can follow me and my training at @JessieSebor).

Sweaty, sun burnt and very happy.

I want to know. . . When have you surprised yourself?