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What do you do when you hit a goal?
You’ll remember that, oh, about four weeks ago I told you about my decision to shift my focus from running the Marine Corps Marathon, something I’ve done annually since 2017 and did for the first time in 2015, and instead walk it one mile a day to add up 26.2 miles over time. That’s because on Sept. 10 I had major hip surgery, putting my days of running any distance at all on hold for awhile.
As disappointing as not running my annual race or filing an official time with the Marine Corps Marathon people was, doing it one day at a time was totally on theme for me. Each year I pick a different way to challenge myself on the course. One year I ran the whole thing with a flag, which, by the way, was much harder than I thought it would be. Last year I did the 50k distance instead, which had the added bonus of being held during what felt like a monsoon. Never has a human been so soaked as I was during that run. There were portions that I was wading through water up on my shins.
So this year, when I planned to “just” run it virtually here in Alaska, the new challenge suddenly became finding a way to do it at all — but on my own terms.
And I think there’s an incredible lesson here that I would do well to remember forever. Outdoor goals, outdoor adventures, what it means to do something hard or challenging, is not determined by anyone else.
Challenge is relative. Goals are relative. If you’re trying, you’re doing it. If you’re setting an achievement out there for yourself and chasing it, that’s what matters. We talk about spending at least 20 minutes outside a day, every single day, no matter what. Who cares what you’re doing with it or where. Get out there. Set the goal and don’t let anyone else — me included — tell you how it should look or what your achievement looks like. Chase your own wellness. Work hard. Fight for what you want.
So that’s what I did with the Marine Corps Marathon. For 26 days I went out there and did a mile, sometimes all at once, sometimes cumulatively over the day. Many of the days were with crutches. Some of them were with no weight bearing on my surgery side. Some of them were easy. Some of them were annoying. All of them were worth it.
And on Oct. 24 I hit my goal. It wasn’t how I hoped finishing my marathon would look, with my traditional cheeseburger and milkshake feast answering that hunger you feel only after working really hard for a long time. But my friend Rachel came and did the last mile-plus with me, putting up a finish line tape for me to walk through. And my Marine Corps Marathon medal, which had arrived in the mail just in time, was placed on my neck by my son instead of the strapping Marine in the rolled sleeves and the “you finished this” salute that you usually get at the Marine Corps Marathon finish line.
In many ways, this finish was even better because I had to want it in a different way than I usually do. I paused and celebrated, felt that good Mission Accomplished vibe, and gave myself a moment to know that, hey, I did it. I did the thing I set out to do. And that is worth feeling.
Now, our weekly outdoor hero. Over the next few weeks I’m going to highlight for you as my weekly outdoor hero — a piece of gear that makes spending time outside great — some things that I take outside in the winter. We’ve got a full Thursday episode coming soon on how to get outside when it’s cold. So I thought I would start us off right by telling you what I like to wear.
So, with that in mind — my favorite winter coats are from Mountain Hardware. I like this brand because their stuff just fits me well. For example, the sleeves are long enough for my weirdly long arms. I have two and they are two different warmth levels — one is a lighter weight and I keep it handy year-round, and the other is this giant sleeping bag kind of jacket that is so warm and wonderful I can’t recommend it enough if you live in a cold climate. These jackets keep me comfortable on even the coldest days. Last winter when I finally bought the giant jacket, shelling out the money that I didnt want to spend, I couldn’t believe I waited as long as I did. Amy, my goodness, just buy the jacket. Both are pricey — but can be less so if you wait for them to be on sale like I did — but they are going to keep me happy for many years to come.
The lighter weight one is the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Insulated Hoodie — I like the hood because I think that having a hood, keeps your head nice and toasty warm, and Mountain Hardwear Phantom Parka, which again is kind of like a giant sleeping bag.
You can see lots of pictures of me wearing said jackets on the Humans Outside instagram using the hashtag #humansoutside365 and I want you to share your outdoor photos there, too, just like we talk about every week with hashtag #humansoutside365. And we can see an entire group of people spending 20 minutes outside every single day. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.