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07 FebWhat I learned from Completing a 100K Challenge

I have never considered myself to be a runner. I’m 5’ tall, 100% Indian and accepted a long time ago, I don’t have the genetic build or “fast-twitch muscles” to excel in high-adrenalin physical activities. In high school I achieved an 8 min mile, only because it was a requirement to be on the Field Hockey team. In college, I would occasionally run 1-2 miles, usually during finals to clear my head and release some stress. My first job out of college, I participated in a several 5Ks as part of my company’s Corporate Challenge Team. In Graduate school, I ran 2-3 miles as a stress release. And that was pretty much it until I became a senior manager in 2003 and high-adrenaline exercise became a requirement to balance all the stress in my professional life.I ran the Chicago marathon in 2012. I have run 12 half-marathons in the last 12 years. I turned 50 this year and was looking for a new personal challenge. I signed up for the 100K Challenge. That is, running ten 10Ks within one year. For me, it was within 7 months. I thought it would be a “modest” challenge, the distance is not as far as a half-marathon, and it would keep me running consistently all year long. Sounds simple right? Well here are some of the Observations, Lessons and feelings of Gratitude I had while I was running all those 100Ks!

  • Observation: I much prefer running in colder weather versus hot weather. I’m also faster in colder weather.
  • Lesson: About halfway through the ten races I wondered “what have I gotten myself into?!” Therein lies the “challenge” portion of this endeavor.
  • Gratitude: I am proud to say, I have donated over $350 to support ten different charities through these races. Charities I may not have supported, or even known existed otherwise.
  • Observation: Racing is a “family event”. Packet pick-up, pre-race dinner, wake-up time, spectating, post-race celebration, etc.  It’s most helpful and encouraging for a runner when your family supports your goals. Just like we parents support our kids in all of their extra-curricular activities.
  • Lesson: It doesn’t matter how slow you run. As long as you keep going …
  • Gratitude: There is NOTHING like having the support of friends and family during a run. On the course and at the finish line. I am grateful for my husband who was at every race. As well as my daughter, mom, bonus-daughter, son-in-law, 2 grand kids and many, many friends who cheered me on.
  • Observation: While this challenge is more about the journey than the destination, admittedly, I like the bigger finisher medals better than the smaller finisher medals 🙂
  • Lesson: Running ten races in a year means more than just running. You have to be dedicated to cross-training. For me,this meant: strength training, yoga & meditation. And good nutrition. Or your body will get out of whack from all the wear and tear you are putting it through. A deep tissue massage every now and then is also recommended for body maintenance and recovery.
  •  Gratitude: Running through strains, sprains and other injuries are annoying and discouraging.  But they are frivolous in comparison to the determination, grit and sheer will of racers that are paraplegics, or in wheelchairs. I am always inspired by them.
  • Observation: Running with friends is better than running alone. But it’s good to know I can do both.
  • Lesson: You never know what you can accomplish until you try and persevere. I earned #2 in my age group in race #9.
  • Gratitude: To all the race organizers and volunteers, local police & sponsors thank you! For all that you do to provide water stops, cheer runners on and to make the race courses safe. You are there before we are and stay until after we are gone. We appreciate you.
  • Observation: I do some of my best problem solving and creative thinking when I’m running.
  • Lesson: Training miles do not equal racing miles. I under-estimated the toll ten races in 7 months takes on your body. And I under-estimated how much total effort ten races takes on your personal life & your family time. However, I still think it was worth it!
  • Gratitude: Kansas City is a beautiful city. I’ve run in the West Bottoms, Independence, Brookside, Olathe, Corporate Woods, Midtown, Downtown, Cross Roads & the Plaza. I have lived in Clifton Park, NY, Fort Worth and Houston, TX, Minneapolis, MN and Chicago, IL. I am grateful to call Kansas City, Missouri “my home” for the past 21 years.

Closing thoughts … Even though I never considered myself a runner, I’m not fast and I don’t have a runner’s build, after all of these races I can proudly say, “I am a runner!”

Runners are happy people. There is an adrenalin high you always get when you finish a training run or cross a finish line. No matter how “good” the run was, you accomplished it, and you know it. Running is not just about stress release anymore, it is also about feeling good and having an inner joy of conquering a personal goal. An added benefit, is showing my teenage daughter no matter how old you are, or what you have achieved professionally, you should always have personal goals. And, that there is the utmost satisfaction in working hard to achieve those goals for no-one other than yourself.

So what’s my next personal challenge? I have not figured that out yet. But in the meantime, I have signed up for my 13th Half-Marathon, in April 2019.

-Aviva Ajmera