Trail Blazing

photo 2



My life is a project. Literally and figuratively. I’m a project manager by trade and have prior to and since attacked every problem and situation like a project to be planned and executed.

So goes my latest project.

I’m a runner and at the end of each year, I think to myself, “I really should run more races…” So, at the beginning of 2014, while thinking about typical New Year Resolutions (eat better, eat less, workout more, be sarcastic less), I got stuck on workout more. I’m not yet willing to give up food and I’m pretty sure everyone appreciates my sarcasm, but I thought I could structure my running workouts a bit more and give myself a little more to strive for on a daily basis instead of logging 2.5 miles each morning while burning through every episode of ER. I thought to myself, I’ll run a race a month!

The rules are simple. Just one organized race per month. Distances aren’t important; although I figured I’d work up throughout the year and complete at least one half-marathon in the 12 month time period. Plus, I’ll have racked up enough random performance t-shirts to donate at the end of the year.

So, as a project manager I think about planning and execution, but my risk management is obviously a little rusty. One race a month now includes all the yucky months that, until now, I have been too much of a fair weather runner to participate. If I was better at risk management, I wouldn’t have signed up for a 4 mile trail race in the southern suburbs of Chicago on one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record on February 8th. I actually thought the race planner guy would be in the Forest Preserve with his Craftsman snow blow-, ahem, snow thrower making a nice path for me and my 19 fellow runners. Not so.

The first mile was the worst as the starting line was in a field. The snow hasn’t melted since it began, so there was quite a nice pile to crawl into as we awaited the gun. The tightening in my chest that I felt as I began trudging up the first hill was not welcome. In my foggy delirium, I actually contemplated calling my husband, who was waiting in the warm car, to come and pick me up and take me to brunch. I brushed that thought away quickly, as the very pragmatic and budget conscious side of me realized I already paid my 30 bucks, might as well get something out of this.

So I trudged and then I walked and then I concentrated on not slipping on the snowy path off the side of the ravine (no reimbursements for losing footing and breaking a leg). As I was wiping away my eyelash and booger icicles, I had a thought. Slow and steady finishes the race, I had long abandoned winning. So there I went, one foot in front of the other. Knowing there was an end in sight but also enjoying the journey. With only 20 race participants of varying skill I was somewhere in the middle of the pack. And yet, I had passed up a few people and there was no one else around. It was quiet and peaceful and quite frankly, beautiful. When was the last time I was alone in the woods on a lovely snowy day not totally against my will?

So the 2nd phase (not quite a Sprint) of my project is complete. It was treacherous yet interesting and putting one foot in front of the other, making smart and purposeful steps, I reached my destination. Not unlike a project, of course. Here’s hoping we hit 50 by my next race, March 1st.

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3 Responses to “Trail Blazing”

  1. Karol Czyrka →
    February 11, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Congrats on finishing the race. I think it’s a great philosophy that can be applied to many things. I think people, including myself, get overwhelmed when trying to start something new. We forget to break it down to the basics or to simple steps to get us to the finish line.

  2. judy
    February 11, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    This is such a great running plan and thoughful post. I am generally very “planny” in my life, and risk averse but then again, life without risk is boring.

  3. mark schraad
    February 12, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    Yes, we do indeed appreciate your sarcasm ; ) quest forth! The endorphins await.