Project 1:59: We're Breaking 2

Photo by Anna Jackson

Photo by Anna Jackson

Running keeps us sane and healthy.

It gives us a way to connect with both an incredible community of people and to the world around us.

But most importantly, it reminds us to chase goals that scare the shit out of us.

Maybe it's becoming a runner or completing a distance that you thought was impossible. With each milestone comes a stronger understanding of who you are and what you're capable of. 

It's inspiring.

And painful.

Terrifying.

And addicting. 

Running my first half marathon was a harrowing experience. I was undertrained and terrified that I wouldn't make it to the finish line. And at mile 11, I almost death marched off the course. But right as I was about to give up, another runner ran up beside me and told me that she was struggling. She said me that we'd been running near each other for most of the race and asked if we could run together. I told her I didn't think I could do it. But together, we made it to the finish line.

The same thing happened during my first marathon. Again, undertrained and overwhelmed, I panicked at the half way mark. Fighting back tears, I stopped to walk when another runner grabbed my hand and told me to run with him. He asked me if I was OK and then told me everything that I needed to hear. He reminded me that I wasn't alone and that I needed to believe in myself. And when he saw my fear turn to hope, he told me to have fun, and left me to finish the race that changed my life.

Here's the thing about running, despite the fact that it's a solo sport, there's strength in numbers. When I think about my proudest running accomplishments, they all happened because I had the support of a friend or a complete stranger who stepped up when they saw me struggling. 

Because that's what runners do, we support our people because we all know what it's like to spend months working towards a goal only to give in when the pain and doubts scream louder than your desire to succeed. It's devastating. And frustrating.

But when you have someone to lean on and support you when the pain makes you lose sight of your goal, everything changes.

Look, I get it. It’s hard to put yourself out there. It takes courage to tell your friends and family about an intimidating goal. It's hard to admit that you want it. I get it. The fear of failure is impossible to ignore.

But the only way you'll fail is if you fail to try. 

You'll never know what you're capable of unless you set out to find out. That's the point of an intimidating goal. 

And for so many runners, that goal is to break 2. 

It's a goal that according to Strava data, only 31% of women and 67% of men achieve. 

The first time I tried, I came really, really close. And the next? I bonked. And then I bonked again. It took me over 2 years before I finally broke 2.

Because the second we decide we want something we aren't sure we're capable of, a wall goes up. And every time we fail or fall short, that wall gets taller and stronger.

But the day I broke 2, I didn't do it alone. I had the help of my best friend Irene and my sister Samantha. Together, we were running the Disneyland half and even though we didn't run the entire race together, they set me up to succeed. They kept me smiling. And present. And most importantly, they helped me believe in myself.

And the second I crossed the finish line, that sense of accomplishment was unparalleled. It made every single failed attempt worth it because not only did I not give up, but I didn't have to do it alone.

And thanks to Strava's Project 1:59, you don't have to do it alone either.

Here's what's going to happen, myself and four other bad ass ladies are going to pace a giant group of runners to break 2 during the world's largest half marathon, the Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon. Why? Because we're stronger together and we want to see you make your impossible, possible.

We aren't just going to pace you to your sub 2. We're going to build you up, remind you that you're a badass, and make you smile when everything hurts. Because breaking 2 isn't an easy feat! It requires persistence and patience. Courage and a desire to kick ass and takes.

And for those of you who aren't running the Airbnb Brooklyn Half but still hope to break 2, you can still join others from around the world who are ready to step up the pace, and challenge yourself to go beyond. Here's how...

Step 1. Join the Project 1:59 group on Strava.

Step 2. SHARE YOUR STORY.

Head over to the Project 1:59 discussion board and let us know what breaking 2 means to you. We're all running towards the same goal for a reason. We want to know yours.

Step 3. Share your tips, tricks, jokes, doubts, and fears.

Have a mantra that reminds you to dig deep and keep fighting when you want to pull back? Struggling to believe in yourself? Or maybe it took you 28 tries but you finally broke 2! LET'S TALK ABOUT IT. Get on those message boards and let us know how you're either planning to break 2 or how you finally did it! 

Remember, we're stronger together.

NO REGRETS. NO EXCUSES.

Welcome to project 1:59.

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Kelly Roberts

It all started when a silly joke made headlines back in 2014 when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the New York City Half Marathon. But ironically enough, I haven't always been a runner. As the self-proclaimed former President of the "I f*cking hate running club", I spent most of my life finding ways to avoid physical activity. Growing up, I missed over 70 days of PE my senior year. Working out was something I thought I had to suffer through in order to lose weight. 

Then, in 2009, my younger brother passed away unexpectedly and struggling to manage my grief, I gained more than 75 pounds. With the weight gain came a new fight to regain my sense of self and learn to love the body I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then one Thanksgiving morning, drowning in grief and self doubt, I decided to go for a run. I didn't make it half way down my street before I had to stop to walk but for some reason, struggling forward made more sense than getting back into bed. It turns out that running is a lot like grief, neither ever really get easier, you just get stronger. 

Over time, I realized that while some people are in fact born runners, others are made. I created this blog Run, Selfie, Repeat and my new podcast by the same name with the hopes to inspire others to say yes to themselves while making them laugh hysterically because laughing, in my opinion, is the solution to everything. 

Named by Women's Running as one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and by Competitor Magazine as one of 12 Influential and inspiring runners under 30, my mission is to inspire others to get embrace a healthy lifestyle and pursue the strongest version of themselves possible.