I raced the local “Shamrock Shuffle” 10K on Saturday. I have run this challenging early spring race many times over the last 15 years. The weather has been very inconsistent, with temperatures ranging from minus 15 degrees to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. But, unlike the weather, my 10K pace has stayed relatively predictable for my entire running career. This year I was not running as well in training as I have in the past. I was experiencing some niggles and other issues in my body. I didn’t feel ready to show up to my typical 10K effort. 

Going into this race I was relying on a lot of good, old fashioned, Irish luck. 

Well, sort of. First of all, I am not Irish. And second of all, I don’t actually believe that luck will propel me forward faster in a race. Luck is defined as the success or failure apparently brought on by chance, rather than through one’s own actions. Although I do believe that we have much less control than we like to believe, I still knew that I didn’t want to leave the enjoyment of my race up to chance. What I was really depending on to fully engage in the race experience was presence, curiosity, self trust, and gratitude. 

In my early years as an endurance athlete I ran all of the local races. I didn’t worry about being perfectly ready or care about my pace. I enjoyed the challenge of racing and the camaraderie of the environment. I just freaking loved racing.

Then… I became a coach. I pulled together a team with my friend Kelly. I became a leader in our local community, gained a social media following, part of a global company/movement, and started writing this blog (and now a book). Although I intellectually know that I am still a very small blip in a very big picture of life, and that most people could truly care less about my race results, I often felt and still feel uncomfortably exposed

What if I am slow? What if I am judged? What if I am not respected as a coach when it is obvious that I am not a professional or race/age group winning athlete? Do I need to explain myself? Or does it sound like I am making excuses if I do? 

Does not being perfectly prepared mean that I have a free pass to not be fully present in the racing moment? Can I blindly “hope for the best”? Should I see if I get lucky?

It would be easier to fall back into the habit of only racing when I have a perfectly curated plan and well thought out and executed taper. To make sure I eat right and sleep well for several nights leading up to the race. To rely on the false illusion that I have it all in control.

Instead of writing about my race experiences, I could continue to share past experiences, other life events and lessons, or the trials of others. I could avoid doing things that are hard for me… especially those that used to feel reliable, like my 10K effort and pace. 

Or, alternatively, I could keep racing, and instead of fully showing up to each experience, I could lean on luck. To make excuses about my lack of being prepared and hold back in my effort in the moment. To remain in my comfort zone, losing the challenge of racing, a part that is integral to my enjoyment of the experience. To not take action, and instead leave it all up to chance. 

But, I remember my “why.” To do hard things to fully experiences life, and to inspire others to do so as well. 

And this “why” does not include slinking into the shadows, or relying on luck in order to have a full life. My “why” means I have to continue to take action to show up to my truest self. Sometimes it means racing for the love of it, no matter the outcome. To race, and live, with humility and gratitude. Sometimes it is about my thoughts and words more than my physical action. Sometimes, it is about the actions I do not take. This is important for all of life. 

You might not relate to racing, or physical endeavors of any kind. But, I am guessing that you neglect to fully show up in other areas of life… (or am I alone on this one?)

You might…

  • Not show up with vulnerability in a relationship. 
  • Shy away from things you cannot control…or double down on trying. 
  • Hide your values, beliefs, or other authentic parts of you. 
  • Not connect with, love, and/or serve others due to fear, or control. 
  • Ignore your instincts in favor of what seems “easier” in a moment. 
  • Not ask for what you want, and instead fall into self-serving people pleasing. 
  • Justify not showing up to other goals, or hard life things, in order to not be exposed.  

You might decide to disengage from an experience out of fear of the outcome. You might try to solely rely on luck, rather than taking responsibility for your own thoughts, words, and actions. 

Ironically, in a lot of ways, life is about luck. We might call it privilege, fate, karma, fortune, or faith. We know have little control in the big picture, and we definitely cannot control others. But, we can decide to show up… whether that is how we think, how we perceive, how we love, how we pray, how we celebrate, how we experience challenges, how we share, how we listen, how we apologize, and how we stay open (among many others). And, if you have some good luck, find ways to share it with others.

On Saturday I decided to fully insert myself in the moment. I smiled when they started us off with an Irish blessing of good luck, and then decided to run with alertness in all of my senses. To challenge my legs and my heart rate, even when those downtown Madison hills were kicking my a**. To smile and thank volunteers. To run with joy and gratitude. And to also not back off and “hope for the best.”

Funny enough—my time ended up aligning with my typical 10K pace. Not my fastest, not my slowest. It hurt just as much as it always does. 

And maybe I did get a little lucky— 2nd place in my age group! Or maybe I didn’t… I lost to the age group winner by literally one second. 😉 But, I know that I took action to be present and thankful. And that was a win for me. 

Hope you have a week filled with presence, action, humility, and gratitude. And always a bit of luck too.