Feet to the Fire

While I signed up to run the Cherry Blossom 5K for all the normal reasons, one particular incident has kept me focused on meeting my goals.


In a little less than two weeks, I’ll be running in my first race of any kind.  It’s the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 5K Run-Walk, part of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Credit Unions for Kids.  I’m very pleased that my first race will be done in conjunction with such a worthwhile cause within the credit union community.

Frankly, that’s all that’s keeping the abject terror at bay.

It is no easy thing to start a training regimen at 37. This especially holds true when your proud motto for the past 20 years has been, “I’m not running unless there’s someone chasing me.”

Callahan & Associates is a workplace filled with active people.  Leading the pack (figuratively and literally) is our own Jay Johnson, a marathon veteran who is running the Boston Marathon this year as part of the Credit Union Kids at Heart Team.     My colleagues participate in soccer, kickball, softball, and hockey leagues.  They do 100 mile bike races and train for Ironman competitions. 

It’s only taken six years, but all of that athletic ambition has finally rubbed off on me.

I started quietly training back in November.  Well, quiet in the sense that I didn’t tell anyone.   Because the actual training itself was loud.  There was complaining.  There was panting and heavy breathing on the elliptical machine.  Occasionally, there was cursing in regards to two decades of sedentary lifestyle choices.   But I couldn’t help but notice how it had become an integral part of my life.  When I woke up early on Thanksgiving morning to put in 30 minutes on the treadmill and do a yoga class (all before putting the turkey in the oven), I realized that my life was drastically changing in a positive direction.

On Monday, December 3, 2012, my colleague Ed Gattis sent out an e-mail to our entire staff, asking for participants for the Cherry Blossom 5K and 10 miler.  I was excited to sign up, and in my haste, committed an egregious breach of personal and professional etiquette.   I replied all with the message, “Please sign me up for the 5K run.”  When my first co-worker came over to give me high-five, I realized that I had publically committed.  While I had no original intention of backing out, I had now painted myself into a very interesting corner.

There’s a TED talk by entrepreneur Derek Sivers about goal setting.  Even though it’s more than two years old, it’s still got legs on the Internet.  The crux is that contrary to popular belief, sharing your goals actually makes you less likely to follow through with them.  Keeping your goals to yourself is a key component to achieving them.  As with most TED talks, there’s some solid research and scientific rationale behind the theorem.

But I gotta tell you . . . losing face in my front of my co-workers is one powerful incentive.   It’s gotten me to the gym, it’s pushed me to get past the aching knees, and it’s gotten me healthier and feeling better than I have in years.

Motivation is some tricky business, no doubt.

There are going to be several thousand of us on the course on the morning of April 7, 2013.  We will be running for our health, for the spirit of competition, to help a great cause, or for a thousand different other reasons. 


I’ll be there. 

I’m running because I want to live a healthier, more active lifestyle.  I want to feel better and lose some weight.  I want to share this experience that my friends and colleagues have talked about for years. 

But I also need to be able to show up to work on Monday, April 8, with my head held high.

Motivation .  . . tricky, tricky business.

See you on April 7.


March 27, 2013


  • I got motivated when I ran with two Childrens Hospital "heroes" last year. I thought I would be slowing down to run with them. They quickly passed me. When I hear the stories about what they have been through, the running pains are much easier to manage.
  • You can do it! I started training for my first 5k at 50+ and met my modest goals of finishing and not being last in my age range. My best helpful hint - don't let race day adrenaline make you go too fast for your pace at the start. Run your own race. I have a sign hanging over my treadmill that says it all: "DFL is better than DNF, but even that is better than DNS." DFL = Dead Freaking Last DNF = Did Not Finish DNS = Did Not Start
    Carol Lloyd Neill
  • Great article, Leigh Anne! You are inspiring. Enjoy the run!
    Sarah Turner