On measuring sticks and what I learned from missing every mark

When I set out to make the last year in my thirties count (see the original post here), for me, that meant goals. As a self-driven, highly motivated person, setting goals equals progress.  I like a good measuring stick.

Until I don’t measure up.

And, if I’m being super honest here, I don’t feel I measured up these last 10 months. Aside from the first month, “dry May,” I didn’t hit one single goal 100 percent. Sure, I did MORE of the good things I set goals for, like reading books, doing random act of kindness and purging our house. But there were also many, many days I missed the mark.

So, I failed, right? Or so I’ve felt. Especially since the ongoing goal underlying all this self-improvement was to help me make healthier choices overall to help me hit that magic number: goal weight. Forty (pounds off) by forty (years old)? Not. Even. Close.

Yet one more way I didn’t measure up.


Sunday I completed a goal I’ve had for a year. It was something I never wanted to do. I like to be healthy – I exercise daily, hike, lift weights, etc.  I run… when chased. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but in general, I don’t love to run. So why would I chose to participate in a half marathon?

For starters, I knew there was NO way I’d be doing a whole marathon. Ha! But a half? That felt… almost doable? It felt like one of the biggest physical challenges I’ve undertaken (a couple of backpacking trips might rival it), combined with the hardest mental challenge I’ve undertaken (did I mention I don’t love running?).

I’d heard about the Disney Princess Half Marathon for a long time, and upon doing some research, it seemed like the one to do. I’m all about distractions to take my mind off the pain of running. My Disney-loving husband wanted to do it with me, so we signed up and printed off our training plan.

Then, not even halfway through our training, injury struck. My left foot, which had been bothering me for a couple of weeks, finally gave out on a 5-mile run. My arch was in extreme pain, and after some self-diagnosis, I called on the professionals.  I spent the next two months trying to minimize pain (even walking was limited) and get back on the pavement. Finally, a little over a week before race day, I was able to run around 6.5 miles.

Six point five. The longest run of my life, yet still only half of what I would have to run on race day.

* * * * * *

One fun thing about the runDisney races is people really get into it and dress up. Meet Ariel and Prince Eric.

When I stepped on the grass to line up with over 20,000 other people on Sunday morning, hours before the sun came up, I carried a lot with me.

I carried the failures I had felt over the last year.
The goals I failed to meet.
The forty pounds I failed to lose.
The demons I failed to conquer.
The training plan I failed to finish.

I carried pain.
My foot: a combination of posterior tibial tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.
My head: A killer cold that had come on a few days earlier. (This, combined with unusually high heat and humidity for this time of year in Florida would nearly do me in a few times.)
My heart: the feelings of failure I’ve felt this past year as a mom, a wife, a person… combined with the fears that I would not be up for yet another challenge, all came together to speed up my heart rate before I ever took a step toward 13.1.

* * * * * *

Sure enough, doubling your mileage on a hot and humid morning with a head cold and an injured foot… not recommended. While it was cool to see everyone decked out in costumes, to see the Disney characters out for meet and greets (clearly for people running MUCH faster than us, as there was a 16 mile/min pace required for the race, and stopping for pictures would greatly impact your pacing), and to run through the Magic Kingdom, I was still, well, generally miserable.

Running toward the castle. If you’re gonna run 13.1 miles, this is the place to do it.

Only once did I fantasize about quitting; mostly, I was afraid I was going to embarrass myself by throwing up. I was a bit surprised by just how physically demanding it was, and the heat really got to me. There were more walking steps than I had hoped for, and the running ones were hardly fast.

But each step got me closer to finally finishing one goal.

And then… we could see the finish line.

* * * * * *

But let’s back up a minute. Just a couple of minutes earlier, a text came through on my watch. I could only read one line from my friend before I had to blink tears away and put my wrist down to avoid reading more. I knew I had to save the ugly cry.

“Whatever is happening in this moment, you are enough.”

My friend is an amazing encourager, but she couldn’t know Just. How. Much. I needed those words.

“I didn’t read my Bible every day.”
You are enough.

“That makes three days in a row that I forgot to do an act of kindness.”
You are enough.

 “I could only run one mile before the pain became too much.”
You are enough.

“Not only did I not lose weight this week, I gained it.”
You are enough.

“I didn’t run a half marathon; I probably walked more than half of it.”
You are enough.

The problem with measuring sticks of our own creation is that the goal is always moving. A half marathon? Why not a full? Lost 60 lbs? Why not 40 more? Raised a healthy child? Why not a happy one, and a grateful one?

All those goals… great ones.

All the striving… exhausting.

* * * * * *

Yes, we crossed that finish line. And while the heat exhaustion and the two miles we had to walk back to the car and then to meet family (we logged over 19 miles that day in total!) kept me from ever allowing the full-on ugly cry that was one sympathetic look away from gushing over, I knew in that moment that my friend was indeed right.


* * * * * *

As I approach the last month of my thirties, I have a new goal. And it’s not to quit setting goals. Haha! But it is this: to view every goal, every dream, every desire, every challenge through a very specific lens: my teary eyes reading these words.

You are enough.

2 thoughts on “On measuring sticks and what I learned from missing every mark

  1. You’re so awesome, Julie. You may not realize it, but you’re determination and perseverance, in whatever you undertake, is an inspiration to all who know you. You are indeed, enough. Just keep on keeping on, for win or lose, you are achieving way more than you realize.Love you dearly, and God bless you!


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