I started a race this weekend that I decided not to finish—again. They call them DNFs. Did. Not. Finish. I get the feeling that a lot of people who know me secretly wonder why I even start these races if I am not sure I can finish them. What's the point? I knew going into this race that I had no business even standing on the starting line. My training was poor to begin with and then 3 weeks ago I dropped a cabinet on my big toe and split it right open. My toenail still hasn't decided if it wants to stay or go. I would never recommend for someone to run a 50k when their longest training run leading up to it was only 13 miles. I could have dropped down to the 25k race before the race started and still receive a finishers medal, but felt I could run more than 16 miles and wanted to challenge myself to see just how far I could run. I knew going into this race that I was getting a DNF. And that was okay with me.
Running any real distance with a few rare diseases is tricky. They keep me teetering on feeling fine to needing an emergency room every time I go for a long run. The only way my doctors and my husband (who is much worse than my doctors) let me race in ultra marathons is if I solemnly promise to not push myself too hard and stop if I even start to feel like I could get in trouble. It's a hard promise to make and to keep. I try to control everything by calculating how much steroids I need every few miles—sometimes I need more, sometimes I need less. I'm getting better with each passing year at being able to read my body and its symptoms. Like knowing I need another dose if I start to feel dizzy. But am I dizzy because I am low on steroids or am I dizzy because I'm sweating buckets and low in electrolytes. Your guess is as good as mine. Take too many steroids and my stomach gets upset and it can harm my vital organs. If my stomach is upset and I throw up, I'm supposed to immediately go to the emergency room for a steroid IV. Take too few steroids and that can also harm my vital organs and I get a trip to the ER anyways. Yeah, I told you it was tricky.
But please don't feel sorry for me. I don't feel sorry for myself. In fact, I truly feel fortunate. It often takes a life altering event to change your outlook. Developing adrenal insufficiency more then two years ago did that for me. And I feel like the luckiest girl alive because of it. It has completely changed my outlook on life and has actually made me a more adventurous person. I am more determined to do things that I know should be outside of my ability. And the more I try, the more I fail. It has also helped me to embrace my failures and taught me that sometimes I need to let my ego go.
Why are we so adverse to failing? When we fall short of our goals, we feel ashamed and embarrassed. What will our friends and family think? Will they be disappointed in you? Are you so afraid of what others will think of your failures that you choose to not try at all? I know I fall into this trap.
And that's exactly why we need to embrace our failures. Failures are gifts from the gods. They are nuggets of wisdom wrapped in terrifying packaging. Your failures are often the best things that will ever happen to you. Embrace them. Because the people that matter the most will have more respect for you for trying and failing than they ever would if you never tried at all.
Trust me, get outside your comfort zone and try something you know you are going to fail at. It's really quiet liberating.