As the mother with two daughters, I constantly told them that their futures were limitless and that they were strong, creative, and amazing young ladies. I banged that drum so long and loud that I think they got the message as they are now young adults and leaving my home to start their own lives. Unfortunately, I didn’t always “walk the talk” because the image I held of myself was too often shaped by my fear of what other thought (or might think) of me. It’s still a struggle to overcome the perceived judgments that other may make about me, but I’ve learned that I am responsible for my own happiness and am the only person who can set limits on my dreams and what I ultimately achieve.
When I set out to run my first 5K, I’m sure nobody thought twice about it. No grand achievement to be sure. When I ran my first half marathon, it probably got some attention but naysayers likely figured that I’d reached the limits of my ability. When I became a marathoner, I’d be willing to bet the critics abounded with their judgments that I was “too slow” or “wasting my time” – or, quite possibly – any number of less polite remarks. However, when I started running ultra marathons and even finished my first 100 miler, I have no doubt that tongues wagged and the incredulous question was asked, “Who does she think she is?!”
I’m not the type of person who likes to attract attention – especially any sort of negative attention. Frankly, telling my running stories is uncomfortable for me because I still worry how I will be perceived. However, I willingly accept the risk of being misunderstood and criticism for being boastful if it reaches even one woman who chooses to make a positive change in her life as a result.
Here’s the simple truth: I love running and motivating other women to run. It’s rewarding to see a passion ignited. But it’s not really about running at all. It’s about overcoming your fears, allowing yourself to believe you are capable of some dream much bigger than you dream today, and not being afraid to fail as many times as it takes to realize your dream. The reason I feel the need to share my stories is to demonstrate that, if I achieve more than most people have judged me capable of accomplishing, then you can, too.
I’ve been told by a woman who read my book, Running Inspired: A Journey to Finding Inner Greatness that they’ve been inspired to go back to school to pursue education she’d put off. I was told by another lady that her book club read my book and all the club members agreed to take it the next step to be accountable to one another to find something they wanted to improve in their own lives and work on it. It’s stories like those that absolutely make my heart sing and let me know that my stories are worth sharing and can help others find their hidden inner strengths.
So I’d ask you to answer this simple question: “Who do you think you are?”