Those Darn Obstacles

For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all,
And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
‘Quit!  Give up, you’re beaten!’  They still shout in my face.
But another voice within me says:  Get up and win the race!’ 
-D.H. Groberg

Have you ever found that when you get closest to your goal/intention/dream, the more obstacles get in the way?  After all the planning and preparation, blood, sweat and tears you have put forth and then, seemingly in an instant, just before the finish line, it seemed like it was all for not?  In other words, your hopes would get dashed, looming obstacles would sabatoge your efforts and you would only get to ”live to fight another day” instead of cross that proverbial finish line?  (Perhaps that was you in cooking a Thanksgiving meal for your whole family that didn’t turn out the way you wanted…..or you missed out on that great, once-in-a-lifetime “Black Friday” shopping deal). 

Essentially, your obstacles got the best of you.  Yep, that was what it was.

I have seen that happen a time or two (thousand) myself and it is amazing how the mind forgets that that is what is happening.  That you have been here before, seeing all the obstacles and wanting to throw in the towel, even though you know that the obstacles are really just a figment of your imagination.   Whether it was in summoning up the courage to ask your boss for a raise, asking that amazing person out for a date, buying that perfect home, starting that dream career, running that marathon, shedding those last 10 pounds - whatever your goal might be - those darn obstacles stepped in and caused an un-Divine intervention.

What can you do when this happens?

Well, I think I might be able to help shed some light on this difficult question.

This happened to me just last week.   I had signed up on Monday for the downtown Minneapolis Turkey Trot 5K race on Thanksgiving morning.  It was to be a great family affair, as my step-son was going to run in his own 1K event with other kids, my husband and baby there to cheer us on and I would be accomplishing something that would mean a ton to me.  Even though I have completed more than one Ironman Triathlon, several marathons, half-marathons and varying distances of triathlons/running competitions/relay races, this event (albeit a mere 3.1 miles of pavement pounding) would mark my official return to running in nearly 18 months.  It would be a benchmark moment that I knew I would never forget and I actually felt great as I paid my registration fee and re-read the race morning information to ensure I knew where to go, what to expect, etc.

Yet the 24 hours leading up to the race presented every obstacle I could imagine for me to achieve that goal.  And those that I couldn’t.

1.  I ended up going to the emergency room due to serious stomach cramping and a whole variety of symptoms that caused me to ponder the meaning of life and if running would be a good idea or not, let alone walking a 5K.

2.  My left knee began hurting

3.  My right knee followed suit

4.  My step-son’s flight was potentially going to be delayed to Thanksgiving morning – during the race itself

5.  My mindset completely did a 180 degree turn and I found myself having fears/doubts that overtook my thinking process and all I saw was everything BUT my body crossing that finish line

Fortunately, my health wasn’t as bad as I initially thought it was, and I took the day off from working, giving myself some extra time to take care of my body.  Not to mention my mind.

As the hours passed, leading up the event, I really just focused on my outcome, what I really wanted, more than anything.  I wanted to feel somewhat “normal” again, like my pre-baby self.  I thought about all those months I couldn’t run or enter into a race due to my pregnancy and new mommyhood.  I wanted to run with a group of people again and hear the heavy breathing, see the costumes, read the inspirational quotes on the backs of t-shirts, hear the national anthem sung before our race, get all the “free” gear for taking part in the event, and most importantly, cross the finish line again.  I didn’t care exactly what it might look like for me to get there, I just wanted to do it!  Originally, I had a time goal, but that went out the door.  I didn’t even wear my watch on race morning.  I would crawl to the finish if I had to.

Even though I wavered up to the last 30 minutes as to whether or not to listen to the aches and pains, I squashed those thoughts that I was creating in my mind.  Pain, real or not, was not even going to stop me.  Those darn obstacles were flown out the window of my mind and I took off with the rest of the turkeys (there were a few I saw on the course).

dsc00979 150x150 Those Darn Obstacles

Mom Earned The Bird

When I crossed that finish line, it was almost like the first time I ever raced.  I was elated with excitement and filled with a great sense of accomplishment.  I didn’t even walk the whole race.  The aches and pains (real or not real) weren’t even felt.  My limited training had carried me through.  Not to mention my will to finish and achieve my intention.  No aches/pains or ER visits would stop me.  I earned my turkey eating privileges that day and wore my new race-earned shirt that day with great pride. 

I guess my point in all of this self-reflection is this.   If you are experiencing what would seem like a lot of “obstacles” right now, keep going.  Stick with your plan/goal/intention.  The finish line might be right around the corner, or it might not be.  Either way, if you believe deep down that you are meant to cross that finish line, you will get there.  It just may not look like the way you thought it would (and the obstacles may help with that, trust me on that one).  That’s okay.  The turkey you get to eat afterward will taste even better and will be even more worth it because you didn’t give up.  Even the obstacles serve a purpose and all will be worth the wait!

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