This got me thinking that I would love for 2012 to be the year that we ALL do something that we thought we could never do. How amazing would we feel if we challenged and pushed ourselves this year. It doesn't have to be about weight loss or exercise--it could be something completely different. I know my husband has been talking about writing a book since the day I met him. It would be great if he would finally challenge himself to get that first draft completed. Maybe you really want to take a trip to another country but can't afford to do it. Maybe this is the year for you to challenge yourself to find ways to cut back on other areas, like trips to Starbucks and eating out, so you can save enough to take that dream trip.
That being said, my blog is dedicated to encouraging people to live a healthier life, so I will focus on challenging you to improve your health and fitness this year by highlighting some of my friends who are good examples.
Yesterday, the Dirty Chicks, as my mud running friends like to call ourselves, ran a half-marathon through the Temecula vineyards. It was a challenging course in dry conditions, but add mud to the up and down hilly terrain and this made it one of the more difficult courses we had ever run. Kay and I had each run at least one half previous to this race, but this was the first half-marathon for Julie, Lesly, and Francie.
Julie is the more physically fit of us all. She has the physique of a well trained marathoner, but claims to be a non-runner. Kay convinced her to do this race, but Julie doubted her own ability to complete it. Prior to the last month, she had never run more than 6 miles consecutively. And while Kay and I trained through the creek behind neighborhood and ran the hills of De Luz in December and January, due to conflicts in her schedule, Julie was only able to join us for our one 10 mile killer training run. That being said, she sprinted and walked her way through the mud to a 2:18:47 finish, beating my best time of 2:19:36 by almost a full minute. She thought she couldn't do it, but she challenged herself anyway, and she exceeded what she thought she would be able to do.
Kay is one of those rare people who loves to exercise. She is up for just about anything as long as it gets her moving. If I told her I wanted to run 30 miles tomorrow, she would come join me and have a big smile on her face the entire time. This was not Kay's first half-marathon, and this was not her challenge for 2012. Kay is shooting to be a Half-Fanatic (finishing three half-marathons in less than 90 days), and she is also going to run her first full marathon at Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, in May. Since I, myself, don't feel ready for the full yet, I am so impressed by the way she is pushing herself to accomplish this already.
Lesly and Francie had run full marathons before our Temecula half yesterday, but Francie hadn't run a longer distance in years. She used this race to get herself back into the running game--and why not begin with a hilly, muddy course? Lesly is actually training for the LA Marathon in March--again, I am completely in awe of those that can run over 26 miles in one stretch.
Kristine, who ran the 5K yesterday, continues to challenge herself as well. She ran her first 5K with me in December (go to my 12/04/11 blog to see how Kristine inspired me that day), and she was able to beat her time by a full three minutes despite the rough conditions. She is working her way toward a half--I am looking forward to sharing more about her journey in future blogs.
I also have a few challenges on my plate for this year. I am running three major races in a little over a month--all difficult courses. Temecula will, by far, be the easiest of the three. The first weekend of February I will be running a half in Sedona, Arizona, that I think will challenge me in ways I have never experienced running. First, the entire race has huge hills. I have been training for this, but hills are my weakness. My calves and hamstrings complain for days after my hilly runs. However, the biggest challenge for me is going to be the altitude. I have never been great with high places--I have trouble catching my breath just walking let alone running. The elevation is at about 4,500 ft, and I will not be able to get into Sedona in enough time to acclimate to the elevation before my race. I am not thinking I will get a PR (Personal Record) here--I will just be happy to finish under 2:30.
And while Sedona will be a challenge, the race I am most concerned about is the Tough Mudder in late-February. I have shared that the whole reason I joined Crossfit was because of my weak upper body strength. The Tough Mudder not only has us running a difficult 11-mile course, we will also be faced with 23 of the most difficult obstacles imaginable--walls to climb, runs straight up steep hills, and, yes, the dreaded monkey bars...only this time some of them will be greased. I plan to spend a lot of time in cold, muddy water (click here to see the course map).
So this year I challenge you to join me and my friends by doing something you thought you would never be able to do. Set your goal, work toward its completion, and I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised by what you are actually able to achieve. Remember that the only time you will have failed is by not attempting to challenge yourself in the first place. And as Cicely Tyson so aptly sates it, "Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They're what make the instrument stretch-what make you go beyond the norm." So let's go out there and go beyond the norm this year--you are worth the effort.