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I feel as though I have always pushed myself, all my life.  I think that I am a pretty competitive person.  Ever since middle school I was involved in sports, mainly soccer.  Soccer really was my passion and I played up until a few years ago actually.  I just don’t have the time anymore to commit myself to a team sport like that.  Anyway, I got into running about a year and half ago and that has become my new passion, well that and CrossFit.  My friend Marvin, who I go running with all the time, introduced me to mud runs.  They are usually a minimum of 3.1 miles (a 5k), with obstacles and mud and beer (at the finish line!).

Electroshock Therapy...and finish line!

Electroshock Therapy…and finish line!

Just recently, in December of 2012, I ran the Tough Mudder with Marvin and a few other friends from the University.  It was the hardest thing I have EVER done in my entire life.  The Tough Mudder is a half marathon course of 13.1-13.3 miles (depending on the course and where it is being held), full of obstacles that just absolutely WRECK your body.  The only way to truly get through it, honestly, is a mental head-game.  You have to keep thinking to yourself, I CAN DO THIS, I CAN DO THIS.  After about mile 6 or 7, I pulled both of my legs’ calf muscles!  After something like that, all you have to hold on to is the little voice pushing you through it!  Also, I was running with this really awesome kid named Joey and he helped me through the entire way.  On some obstacles, I helped him too.  There was a huge half-pipe obstacle (you know, the ones skaters and snowboarders fly up and down?), that I could not even attempt due to the pain in my legs.  I went around the back of it, climbed up ladder and waited for Joey at the top.  He ran up it and grabbed onto my hands and I pulled him up.  I still felt that I had conquered the obstacle because I had helped someone else through it.  Don’t get me wrong, the pain was excruciating during the whole process.  All the muscles in my body were so contracted just from helping Joey up the thing that my calves started to cramp and tighten up just from THAT!  Crossing that finish line though (after the Electro-shock Therapy obstacle) was the BEST feeling in the world.  I felt like Super-Woman even though I could barely walk.

I told Pat with a straight face, "I'm never taking this headband off. Ever."

I told Pat with a straight face, “I’m never taking this headband off. Ever.”

The following month, in January of 2013, I ran my first ever full marathon. It was the Disney Marathon just 3 days before my 27th birthday. I had signed up to run sooooooo long ago on a whim and finally the marathon weekend was upon me. I was wondering to myself, as I woke up around 2:45am in a hotel room in Epcot, WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING!? I could barely finish the Tough Mudder…there is no possible way I can run 26.2 miles! I stopped, looked over at Patrick making my coffee and putting together my oatmeal and banana. He was my biggest fan. If he believed in me I should be able to believe in me too. I shook all those negative thoughts from my mind before we got to the starting area. I was seriously so nervous that I thought I might pee my pants at any given time. I must have gone to bathroom at least half a dozen times.

My emotional finish.  (Please excuse my bootleg version!)

My emotional finish. (Please excuse my bootleg version!)

Finally, they called my corral.  I was in D.  Thousands of people walked through the “runners only” gate, looking back and waving to loves ones as we marched on into the night and to the starting line.  I had no idea what to expect.  Of course, it being Disney, there were fireworks at each corral starting and there were the characters all over the place!  Honestly, it was sooooo great!  Then the gun for my corral went off.  People started shifting in place, then walking, and finally a light jog broke out around me.  This was it.  I had 26.2 miles ahead of me and there was no TURNING OR LOOKING BACK now.  Fast forward 5.5 to 6 hours later and I am up on mile 20 or 21.  At this point there are no words to describe how my body felt and the emotions that I felt.  Pain doesn’t even begin to describe what was happening to me.  Pretty soon I knew that I had less than a 5k to go.  My lips started to quiver and I felt like I was about to cry, FOR NO REASON!  It wasn’t actually the pain and the excruciating discomfort, it was just so emotional.  Finally, I saw the finish line.  I had been walking for the past 10 minutes and I wanted to finish the race strong and running.  I sped up, limping with each foot forward.  I saw the crowd, people cheering, people running through the finish line, people so PROUD!  With the last of what little energy I had left I ran through to the end, bursting into heaving sobs and uncontrollable tears.  A volunteer came over to me and patted me on the back, congratulated me, and put the finisher’s medal over my head.  Again, no words can describe the feeling I had at that moment.  Elation just doesn’t do that emotion justice.  I couldn’t believe that I had just ran a 26.2 mile race, through all of the Disney parks and across central Florida highways.

My pretty medal that SPINS!!

My pretty medal that SPINS!!

The point of this post I guess is to make sure to push yourself.  No matter what you are doing.  No matter what goals or dreams you hope to accomplish, just keep pushing.  The other day, I had to do something I really wasn’t comfortable with.  I believe I listed things I would rather do.  Things also didn’t go so well.  I was devastated.  It seemed as though all of my hard work, persistence, dedication, and meticulousness was for naught.  I didn’t feel appreciated or valued.  I didn’t feel like part of the “team”.  On my way home I called my mom (because moms make you feel better, even if you are half the country away and 27 years old).  She made me realize that there are other people in my life, a lot of other people, who DO value me, who DO appreciate me, and who DO know how hard I work.

“Those are the people whose opinions should matter to you Tarah,” she said.

“Don’t waste a single tear on them…they don’t deserve it,” she said.

I thought to myself, you’re right.  They don’t.  I know what I’ve done and I know there are people out there who would pay a good penny to have me on their team.  And, I started to feel better.  I also received this amazing and heartfelt “thanks” from my cousin Jen.  She actually started running again and said that I was an inspiration to her.  I don’t think there could have been a better time for me to see her message to me.  I started crying because I realized all the good people I have in my life.

So, when things get tough…keep on pushing.  I CAN DO THIS! I CAN and WILL DO THIS!

Have a super happy fun time Wednesday everyone!

~Tarah

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