Thursday, July 4, 2013


One of my favorite work-related books, Built to Last, coined the term BHAG - a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal - a long-term goal that has the potential to change the very existence of a business. The author, James Collins, describes a BHAG as nearly impossible to achieve, without consistently working outside one's comfort zone and displaying commitment, confidence, and even a bit of arrogance.  

My BHAG is to finish a 50-mile ultramarathon.  I have wanted to run an ultra ever since I started running marathons, because it always seemed like the natural next step.  When I first started running full marathons, I was captivated by the duality of excitement and sheer terror experienced at the start line.  Could I possibly push my body to finish the 26.2 mile course?  What would it feel like to hit the "wall", and could I push past it?  After running more marathons than I can count over the past nearly ten years, I am far from being able to say that running a marathon is easy, but at the same time, the marathon has lost that sense of terrifying, thrilling uncertainty for me.  I no longer wonder "what if".  I know there will be moments (or miles) of excruciating pain, but I also know that I will find a way to push past my body's physical limits, to the finish line.  

But an ultramarathon?  I have no idea if I can do it.  And that's exactly why I want to do it.

 I want to push myself further than I have pushed before.  I want to experience the feeling of giving everything I have to give.  Every last ounce of me.  And conquering something that at this point seems totally out of reach.  

There is a documentary about ultramarathons called "The Distance of Truth", and I think the title couldn't be more fitting.  Pushing the body's physical and mental limits as a marathoner is ultimately about truth.  It's about finding and knowing your true self - who you are, after everything else has been stripped away, and there's nothing left but sheer determination to finish what you started.  As one of my favorite running quotes from Marc Parent says...

"Running is a kind of truth serum. It brutally strips away everything you put on and leaves you with only yourself. The runner on the road, hunched over or otherwise, knows something that the passenger in the car doesn't. Down to the core, the runner knows who he is. The runner has to. He's so tired, who he is is all that's left... The farther he runs, the more he knows, the more that shows."

Can I finish an ultramarathon?  I'm not sure.  But I do know that the journey to achieve my BHAG will change me.  And I look forward to the challenge! 

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1 comment:

  1. We were setting BHAGs at work with a new thing we are trying. an ultra is a pretty awesome BHAG