This is the time of year when people start formulating goals for next year, make race plans and take time to reset. Naturally, I'm doing the same, reflecting on my year and what I'm planning next.
I started this blog in 2010 when I was training for my first marathon. I'd been reading blogs for years and after getting the running bug slowly added running blogs to my reader as a source of motivation and inspiration. Thinking it would be a great way to connect with others who were preparing for a first marathon, this blog started.
Somewhere over the summer of 2010, I had the epiphany that I should start a program to run with shelter dogs. It remained as one of the million ideas and dreams that bounce around in my head at any given time until this year.
That October I ran my first marathon and in November, it was time for a vacation that included a visit and volunteer time at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. The minute we arrived in Utah, I became quite obsessed over the beauty of red rocks. The photo from the header on this blog is from Utah and the dog was one of our 'sleepover' dogs. I've wanted to return ever since the trip and probably mention Utah at least once every 2 weeks.
Shortly after getting back from our trip, the Best Friends blog included a link to the closing speech from their 2010 No More Homeless Pets Conference. If anyone has 30 minutes to spare, it's well worth a listen (there are two parts). There is an inspirational running story in it as well as a very important (and true) message for those involved in animal welfare. I've watched this speech several times. It really speaks to me. The message of kindness and the manner in which the organization markets itself has been a very strong model and concept I believe others should pay close attention to.
As someone who has been somewhat involved in animal shelters and rescues for several years, I never felt I could find the right fit in any of the areas where I was helping out. At the same time, I still had the Miles and Mutts concept brewing.
Earlier this year, I went back and listened to that speech again when I was trying to get the program off the ground. Life is short, I want to make mine count. I want to be driven in my own pursuits, make a difference and do not lose myself along the way.
The first half of the year was spent focused, committed and following my heart in terms of running. I was in the best shape so far and clicking off races successfully, enjoying every minute of it. I felt proud, driven and most of all confident. The confidence I get from running spills over into everything else and that confidence is what allowed forge forward with the goal to make Miles and Mutts a success.
I was determined to complete Highlands Sky the best I could. It's one of those races I wanted to run since I started running. It's one that went from being a goal that seemed impossible to one that seemed possible. Getting in miles and training was not an issue and I made everything work with my schedule and life fairly effortlessly. My heart was in it and allowed my mind and body to follow in training and on race day.
Then, I signed up for a race not because my heart was in it but because I wanted to say I ran it. Running miles started to feel like a chore. I got sick, run down and stressed. I spent quite a bit of time on the verge of being injured as a result. My heart wasn't in it and the day of JFK 50 mile proved that 100%.
Next year, my goal is to run from the heart. It won't be to cross things off a list or say I've done it. I still want to improve, I still want to go longer, I still have goals. However, I don't necessarily need to do Race A or Race B because it should be the next thing to cross of my list.
Being able to commit more time to Miles and Mutts will be a focus. At times I feel like maybe I'm not giving enough towards it and wish I could do more. However, balance is a key to success and staying focused with the overall purpose is critical. I must remember that running is my stress relief and peaceful time and I simply can't do it all nor can I expect the program to be able to do it all.
When I look back at the last year in terms of running, the following moments stand out:
-finishing Highlands Sky, overcoming a fear and a 'There's no way' mindset
-the magic mile moment with Cricket, realizing the energy I was putting forth was worth it
-repeating Freedom's Run marathon, fairly easy and effortlessly, proving how far I've come
These were all moments that meant something more than just running some miles and checking something off the list. Life is short, so including running goals, they should count. A simple but powerful reminder that I need to come back to every once in awhile when I start to get too wrapped up in things I see going on around me.