When I started running over 15 years ago, I was happy to just go out and run. Running was an outlet for me. It was my “me” time. I never thought of it as anything else. It was just something that I did to burn off steam. Then I started racing and running became more than just my “me” time. I started to think about goals and achievement. I was never fast enough to be really competitive but I was decent enough to consistently place in the top 25% of my age bracket. I raced for several years, everything from 5k’s to marathons. I ran my first marathon in 2001 when I turned 30 and I ran it in 3:55:29 minutes. My goal was to run Boston so I started doing speed work. Tempo runs became the norm. When I toed the line in Ottawa in 2002, I can’t say I was 100% confident that I’d make the 3:40 qualifying time but I was going to do my best. I crossed the line in 3:34:07. I realized that maybe I was capable of achieving more than I gave myself credit for.
After Boston, I turned my focus to triathlons and I tackled everything from sprint distance to Ironman. I wasn’t fast but I didn’t care. I just enjoyed the sport and the camaraderie it provided. As the years went by, I took a bit of a hiatus from everything and focused on trying to start a family. When that failed miserably, I returned to running. It helped heal the wounds. I started to race again. Gone were my once somewhat speedy legs. For some reason that seemed to light a fire in me. I wanted to get better. I wanted to get back to where I used to be. I jumped right back into running with both feet. I brought back tempo runs. I started running with people that were way faster than me, trying to hang on for dear life. I stepped outside my comfort zone.
At the beginning of 2011 I set a goal. I was turning 40 and I said, “You know what? I’m going to make 40 the best year of my life (to date).” With that simple vow, a world of possibility opened. I rose to the challenge of taking the knowledge I had and crafting a plan that would get me to my goal. I wanted to run three half marathons that year with a goal of running 1:40 or faster for my last one in October of that year. Given that my half marathon PR was 1:43 and that was set seven years previously, I felt I had my work cut out for me. I raced a lot that year and came close to breaking 1:40 at my second half marathon of the year. I was amazed. I began to believe in myself again. I went into each race with a positive outlook, and a goal of working hard and giving it my all. My new mantra became The Body Achieves What the Mind Believes.
I can’t believe the things I’ve achieved since that race, all because I made the decision that 40 was going to be the best year of my life AND I actually did something about it. I was amazed by the things that happened along the way. I realized that my mindset has changed. I’m no longer a glass half empty kinda gal. I’ve had all of my best athletic performances happen over the last couple of years. I’ve had more success than I ever imagined possible. The body truly does achieve what the mind believes.
Phaedra Kennedy is a FitFluential, Sweat Pink & Mermaid Club Ambassador, a former RealDealGears athlete and a NAASFP certified running coach. She is a multiple Ironman Triathlon and marathon finisher, and enjoys healthy living and helping others.