“Own your Ambitions”

“Own your own ambitions, own your own competencies” my boss (#GIRLBOSS) said at POLITICO’s 3rd annual Women Rule Summit, where a wonderful group of smart, thoughtful, talented, well-placed and powerful took part in a series of panel discussions. The topics ranged from: Women on the Campaign trail; networking; women and the criminal justice system, women and innovation; and building talent. Surrounded by a rapt (predominantly) female audience of all ages, these women hit upon topics men rarely even think of in their lifetimes much less deal with on a daily basis.   Men – do NOT worry.  This is not a bashing session. 🙂Owning up to your own competencies and ambitions seems like an obvious statement, but is oftentimes not the case for women at work and in life. We are questioned in ways men never will (Huffington Post video: 48 phrases said to women).  We feel we need to prove ourselves at all times in order to accomplish our goals, get the desired job or promotion, whereas our male counterparts believe they should get the jobs/promotions based on their potential to do the job.  More than having to prove themselves “worthy” of their positions, this group of bi-partisan, multi-racial women emphasized the need to own up to the fact that we, as women, HAVE ambitions and ARE ambitious (whatever your particular ambition may be), and not let our doubts, self-consciousness, fears of failure, and other peoples’ beliefs and expectations stop you from setting goals and making strides towards achieving them.

This phrase, in particular, struck me because I know I have ambitions, both at work and in my racing; however, I realized I often downplay them because they may make others uncomfortable.  Maybe it is because I have always been taught there is a fine line between talking about yourself (your accomplishments, successes, etc) and being a braggart. Or maybe it’s a learned reaction through the years as others aim to fit you into a category or bucket.  Either way, I am pretty sure most men do not get that same talk.  Well, maybe they do but they can still act like the second coming. 🙂

Ultra Ambitions: From the day I first started racing longer distances (1/2 marathon, marathon, Ironman 70.3, Ironman, 50 miler), I’ve told friends, family, and co-workers that my motto was “Complete, not Compete!” This was 100% true 10 years ago, and to some extent is still true today. I always go into my races focused on FINISHING (no one likes a DNF); however, now I have specific goals based on each race and my training for it.  NYC Marathon – I wanted to do sub 3:30 and get as close to 3:20 as possible (3:21 that day!).  JFK50 is probably the best example for this story. I wanted to go sub-7:50, preferably closer to 7:30, and wanted to break into the top 10 Female finishers. Hey, 1 for 3 is a great batting average in softball and baseballJ I LOVED the fact I was top 10.  In retrospect, I deliberately made it less of an accomplishment that I felt it was because I didn’t want to “brag,” or even worse, make others feel less in some way.  It might be the “likeability factor” the Women Rule panels discussed, but it happened.  I smiled, acknowledged any praise, and then qualified my accomplishment by saying, “well I really go for the Complete, not Compete” so this result is so amazing and wonderful.  YES, JFK50 was 100% a success for me, and I’m SO SO SO proud of it, for a couple of reasons. (1) I didn’t quit when things got tough, (2) I unexpectedly reached one of my goals after giving up on it, and (3) I found joy in the run, the environment, and the day.  This did NOT stop me from being disappointed in parts of the race because I had other goals I wanted to meet, but I locked up those feelings so no one would think I was not thankful for what I did do.

After listening to all those wonderfully accomplished women talk about not self-imposing barriers and owning up to your wants, needs and ambitions, I am putting it out there that I have some racing ambitions for 2016.

  1. Finish Umstead 100 (my first 100),
  2. Finish Umstead in sub-24 hours, preferably closer to 20,
  3. Do a sub-3:20 marathon, and push for 3:15,
  4. JFK50 in 7:30,
  5. Run more big trails,
  6. Run Boston Marathon again despite it being only 2 weeks after Umstead, and last, but NEVER least,
  7. I will own up to these goals and not minimize any of my accomplishments along the way.

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