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Running through doubt

While my training includes swimming and biking, the focus right now is my running.

Jan. 25 I will be joining my friends Sue and Herm in Florida for the Miami marathon. Well, Herm is the only one running the marathon. Sue and I are running the half marathon (that's 13.1 miles for the mathematically challenged) as part of our training for spring marathons.

The goal time for the Miami half is under 2 hours and 15 minutes. Since I finished the Run for the Grapes half marathon in 2:17 in September, this is a very attainable goal and one that will help me prepare for my first foray into the marathon when I run Buffalo in May.

Today's training session was a long run. With my program based on time not distance, I was to run 90 minutes at a pace that's more difficult than easy but not my race pace. The 55 degree morning was great -- though the wind was tricky to negotiate. I felt good running and practiced my nutrition as my coach asked me to, taking a gel at 35 minutes then at the top of the hour.

But about 50 minutes into my run, my mind started to kick in. See, my mind has a really bad habit of over thinking things. Sure, it's good to think things through, to be rational, to examine different angles. But at a certain point, you have to turn the chatter in your mind off. Because my mind started to go into over analysis mode. I tried to compute my measurements -- pace, time speed -- and compare that to what I want to do in Miami and ultimately in Buffalo.

Panic and doubt quickly settled on me.

I have no chance of hitting my goal times if I run this pace. I know that running this pace is good for building my base and my endurance and that will carry me a lot farther come race day than trying to hit my time on this training run. I know the doubt and pain I feel now (and for the record, the majority of the pain was emotional, not physical) will help me reach my goal.

But that goal feels so far away right now. And the doubt is so strong. And maybe I should just quit now and live with the guilt of selling myself short.

I am not exactly sure what triggered me to stop that thinking as quickly as possible. The mind plays games with itself and suddenly I was in a mental argument with myself. My positive voice, my drive and will to live my best life, started chanting "Faith, Hope, Love."

That is how I will get through this run (which, for the record, was going well). This is how I will get through the rest of my training.

This is how I will reach my goal.

Sport is often a metaphor for life. How many times in other areas of my life have I simply given up because the goal -- what I really, truly wanted -- was overshadowed by the work I needed to do to get there? The pain and doubt is momentary. Living the goal, living my dreams, living big, that's what sustains me.

They say the greatest risk is not taking one at all.

I choose to take risks, to live big, to believe that faith, hope and love will get me through the difficult patches to the joy that is on the other side.

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