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Editor’s Corner: Gambling On Yourself

The scariest part of setting goals is the gamble. When you shape a dream, you’re placing a bet on yourself. You ignore the odds stacked against you and push all your chips into the middle, hanging onto the belief that you have the power to create a winning hand.

What makes this process even more terrifying is that the risk lies within. If you don’t achieve your objective, there’s no dealer to blame.

Last year, I had a big goal to run a personal best in the Boston Marathon. I thought I could to break 3:10 and trained for months with a singular focus to make this dream come alive. After having finished Boston the year prior, a race that ended in national tragedy, I wanted to come back to the city and do something personally significant. On the start line, I believed in myself completely. I knew I could do it.

But as I turned out, I couldn’t. Or at least I didn’t. After some tough miles, I crossed the line in 3:18, the very same time as my previous best. I know it sounds silly, but I was heartbroken. I’d used up all my chips, and they just weren’t enough.

Over the passing months, I licked my wounds and the feeling of failure faded into the background. But it wasn’t until I had the chance to speak with Meb Keflezighi, the winner of this year’s Boston Marathon, that I truly shifted my view. Meb is not only the greatest American distance runner competing right now, but he is also one of our country’s wisest humans.

At a visit to our offices, I asked about his incredible performance in Boston, and he was kind enough to inquire about my race as well. After explaining my story, Meb put his hand on my back and said, “Don’t be disappointed. You were part of history.”

Of course, he is right. Twenty years from now, I might not be able to recall what my marathon PR once was. But the world will remember when 35,000 runners took to the streets of Boston to prove that their sport, city and passion couldn’t be snuffed. The experience will certainly live on in my heart.

Goals are important; they drive us to push forward. But I hope that one day, I’ll be able to bet on myself and walk away from the table happy, regardless of the result. This year, instead of staring at my hand, I’ll try to step outside and see a wide view. Why not just enjoy running through trees? Taken together, they make up a beautiful forest.

Where I’ve been running to lately…

1. I’m so not a fancy jewelry girl—but these little blue boxes still made for a delightful sight after 13.1 miles. The Nike Women’s Half does it right.
2. With 3,000 feet of climbing over 15 miles, this run through the mountains made me work. But the ache in my quads made this view even sweeter.
3. #TBT to keeping warm with one of my very best friends, while waiting for the Boston Marathon to start. There’s a whole lot of sisterly love underneath this Snuggie.

Jessica Sebor

Jessica Sebor

Jessie Sebor is the Vice President of Women's Running at Competitor Group. After finishing her first marathon at age 18, Jessie has run everywhere from Singapore to Prague and competed in hundreds of races including the Boston Marathon and the Bare Dare, for which she won the title of National Nude Running Champion. Jessie’s work appears at ESPN.com, Ultrarunning Magazine and has been selected for Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Essays. A former romance novel editor, it’s at Women’s Running where her true passions lie. You can reach her at jsebor@competitorgroup.com.