In Between Goals

It’s pretty plain I like goals. I have lots of them: regular goals, big goals and even those I call a BAG (big audacious goal). I like helping people reach their goals too, whatever the size and challenge. This year I’ve discovered a new class of goal, the in-between goal. I really like them, because they are a good way to keep me grounded and present while waiting for my next adventure.

That’s why I call them an in-between goal. They are in-between now and a bigger, more important goal. They keep me excited and focused on something positive.

Some of my bigger goals are very challenging to reach, like my plan to earn a living through motivational speaking. As others have said, “Becoming a professional speaker is easy. Earning a living at it is hard.

Other goals are seasonally related, like hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which doesn’t start until next spring. So, the in-between goals focus my energy and help keep me from feeling I’m wasting my time when other goals are elusive or far away. Often my in-between goals are a physical activity that keeps me strong and fit, too. Added bonus!

My current in-between goal is to run five miles without collapsing. Specifically, it’s to finish the Kraut Run 8K (5 miles) in under fifty-five minutes. Kraut Run is on October 5th, so I have eleven days left. Today was the first day I came near my goal. I finished at 55:16. That’s really close. I feel good, in fact I’m pretty excited because this goal has been harder than I expected. The last time I actively worked on running was years ago and I was a stronger, faster runner. Then, I ran faster minutes per mile and nearly three times as far. Now my goal is for a slower pace and shorter race. That doesn’t mean it’s coming easily.

My best time in the last three months was 57:29, and for two weeks in September, I didn’t run a full five miles during any training run. I consoled myself knowing I was still out there trying, running in very hot weather and sticking with it even though it seemed to be going poorly. I remembered my lesson from hiking the Appalachian Trail: It doesn’t matter what you expect. It only matters you deal with what is.

Today, when my work out app announced mile three had taken me significantly longer than the first two miles, I reminded myself to just keep pushing my pace. I really didn’t think I would improve, but I wanted to keep from slowing down any further. Then, when mile four came in at a faster time, I realized I had a chance to finish close to my goal of fifty-five minutes. It was very hard to run the fifth mile as strongly as the fourth, but I kept saying to myself, “You got this” or “You can do it” and “You’re almost finished“. One time I even said it out loud and was thankful no one was nearby.

I have twelve more days to trim those last few seconds from my time. My goal isn’t to run as fast or as far as I once did, but my effort and hope are the same as always. I’m working diligently to reach this in-between goal and I sure hope I make it by Oct. 5th.

It’s worth striving for; it’s kept me running through the entire summer and put me in much better shape for my next in-between goal: backpacking eighteen miles days to prepare for the PCT!

Day 199 – Better Late Than Never

The finish for northbound (NOBO) AT thru-hikers: Mt Katahdin

I did it! On October 5, I finished backpacking 2,190.9 miles over 6.5 months – 199 days to be exact – through 14 states and lots and lots of rain. The Appalachian Trail thru-hike dream became my life for many months and now it’s done. A success. I am delighted to once again go to sleep each night without having to crawl on the ground and carefully pull off muddy boots as I ease into bed.

Fall in Maine on the AT

The last two weeks were fantastic. The trees in Maine were beautiful, plus we had mostly warm temperatures. Mrs. Santiago picked us up each night it was possible to reach a road crossing, and pampered us with drinks and treats as we headed into town for showers and yummy restaurant dinners. We grew soft from slack packing most of the last six weeks, so when we did carry full packs and camped out, we were quickly reminded how much tougher it is to backpack and camp. However the few nights we camped during those last days were gorgeous, with lakes and fall color everywhere. I enjoyed camping, even though I took advantage of every chance to be picked up and taken to a hotel with shower and warm meals.

Many people ask if I plan to hike the AT again. Nope. Not ever. I’m glad I hiked it and reached my goal, but I thought the AT was all about hiking when it turned out to be all about the kindness of others. Lots of people went out of their way to help me be successful and those are my best memories. Future posts will reveal some of the wonderful lessons and insight gained by stubbornly sticking with the challenge, but it was the generosity of strangers and friends that stand out the most.

Very happy NOBO thru-hikers celebrating on top of Mt Katahdin

Well…, okay I would hike part of it again, just not the entire trail. More than two months after finishing, I can say I am in love with hiking and have made time for many day hikes since finishing the AT. I have plans to hike the Chisos Mountains in early February, and part of The Lone Star Trail at the end of February. The year 2021 is my target for starting and finishing a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike, which is 2,650 miles and purported to have an easier grade and fantastic views… plus hardly any rain. I research trails almost every day. Yep, the hiking bug is still with me.

In the meantime, lots and lots of people seem to want to hear me speak about adventures from the trail. I plan to use my stories to entertain and motivate people to go out and reach their own goals, whatever they may be. There are plenty of life lessons from the trail which can be applied to any other goal and I have both the skill to weave those stories into presentations people want to hear, and to help people reach their own goals through life coaching. I plan to keep hiking while encouraging other people to move from dream to life, too. When I’m a part of helping others reach their life goals, I’m a happy camper – and after 199 days of mostly camping along the trail, I definitely know how to be a happy camper.