There’s a lot of people that dislike running, and for a while, I was one of them. So when my sister approached me to ask if I wanted to participate in the SeaWheeze, a half marathon in Vancouver, I was hesitant. 13 miles is no cake walk — or cake run, rather. What if I got injured? What if it was awful? Worst of all, what if I couldn’t finish?

A few years prior, I started a couch to 5k program and quit before I could run a whole mile. My entire life, I have been told that I am not athletic. I even almost failed 9th grade P.E.!

Due to these facts in my past, my gut instinct was to say no, but something inside me screamed “yes, you can do it!” You see, I no longer let my past define me and regularly challenge myself in all aspects of my life. As Neale Donald Walsch says: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

13891940_10101510816274205_3377914873978235661_nSo, it didn’t turn out to be that hard for my sister to convince me to participate. First of all, how could I say no to an opportunity to bond with my sister, who lives far away? I’d never been to Vancouver and always heard how gorgeous it was. If I was going to run a half, a trip to Vancouver with my sister was not bad motivation.

After signing up, I learned that the SeaWheeze is one of the most beautiful and pleasant half-marathons imaginable. It takes place mostly along the seawall in Vancouver, Canada where breathtaking scenery, salty ocean air and boundless positivity steal the show. The entire experience, sponsored by Lululemon, is more than just a run. It’s an event that focuses on mindfulness and wellness, and a celebration all rolled into one. Was it going to be easy? Not at all. But I was convinced it would be worth it, and as it turned out I was right.

I have this philosophy about the power of persistence that’s hard to forget. As a CEO, I face and lead my team through regular challenges. I’ve had to power through some tough situations and have found that the best way to do it is to take the challenges head-on when they come. The benefits are almost always worth it.

People often ask me why I love the steel industry so much when it’s so notoriously volatile. My answer — aside from growing up in it and my team being my family — is simple: I 
love that it is challenging. Our industry throws new curve balls at us regularly. Trying to predict these curves, come out ahead, and hit that ball out of the park is extremely exciting. It comes with risks and many lessons, but that’s how I grow. Getting out of my comfort zone and taking on new challenges is what makes me flourish. I apply this concept to business regularly, so why not to my personal endeavors?

13907033_10101511587563535_4070100164994338436_nSo I committed to the SeaWheeze. When I registered, about a year in advance, I didn’t realize the additional challenges I was about to face. I’ve been participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-day walk for breast cancer for the last three years, and last October I injured my knee on day two of the walk. For two months after the walk I had persistent knee pain and ended up in physical therapy for about three months before finally being released in March of this year. Once my physical therapist told me I’d be okay to start running, I started walking in April and running in May.

The training was, as expected, a challenge. But it was also extremely thorough and advanced. I knew if I was going to achieve my goal of completing the half than I needed structure. So I found a half-marathon coaching app and followed it religiously. If I couldn’t do a workout on a certain day, then I moved it, but only within the week. I had to stick to a plan.

There was one week I got really sick and couldn’t run. My first thought was, 
I’m off from my training — I won’t be able to do it. I thought about quitting. Frankly, I looked for every excuse along the way. Each time I reminded myself that I really wanted to cross that finish line, and more importantly, have that time with my sister. I was determined. So each excuse was just that – an excuse — and then I made myself get back on schedule. I was going to finish!

In the end, the SeaWheeze was a memorable event that took the best parts of a vacation and a workout and joined them together in a challenging but rewarding exercise of persistence. It reminded me that no matter what your goal, having an open mind and taking on the “impossible” can bring benefits you can’t even imagine. It taught me that there will always be obstacles, and that overcoming them is all part of the experience.

I couldn’t be prouder of myself and my sister for the hard work we put in and the 13+ miles we completed. And now on for the next challenge: Training for my 4th 3-Day walk this October.