• Jason Bankston



Some of you may be reading this title and wondering how are failures the Land Of Opportunity? What is a successful failure? Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. It affords us to take something in a new direction that maybe we did not think of before.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Never Give Up, I had run 10 marathons. Some of you likely said WHY?! Well, here you go. I originally started running them because I was asked by a friend to help raise money for St. Jude. It was also a bucket list of mine so I said let's do this thing. My first one I had no expectations except finishing. I had even said about a month before I ran that I would never do this again. The training was tough and, I thought, I would rather be doing something else. But when I ran that day, the weather was beautiful, there were people on the entire course (26.2 miles), and running through the hospital campus with the families and kids outside cheering you on, you think, I can do this. I have it easy compared to what they are facing everyday. When I crossed the finish line, I felt a euphoria that is unexplainable. You can be in the worst pain but have the greatest feeling all in one. When I met up with my friends and family afterwards, I stated I do not think I am doing this again. But on the way home, the next day from Memphis, TN, I was already trying to see when I could sign up again. I was ready to do it again but faster and better. I felt invincible, like I could accomplish anything after that.

That was certainly short lived. The euphoria wore off when the training started again about 8 months later. But I did it again, and again, and again. I failed eight more times to be exact. The reason? The opportunity to prove to myself that I can accomplish my goal of a sub 4 hour marathon. Every year I would train and every year I would fail to meet my goal. It made me work harder and smarter. Sometimes I felt I would never accomplish this. After all, I was not getting younger! I was fast approaching 40 years old. That is not old but I certainly was not a 25 year old anymore. On my 9th try I ran the marathon in 4:01. Yeah, that's right 1 minute too slow. FAIL!!! I was excited but upset. I had stayed in front of the 4 hour pace racer the entire time. They even finished after me, but the time read 4:01. This meant I would have to do it again. I trained for 2 years before the next one. The 2013 race was canceled due to an ice storm. So in 2014, I was ready. This was going to be my race. Failure was not an option this time. I never let it even creep into my thoughts. Finish time was 3:52! 9 minutes faster than the last and 8 minutes better than my goal. Afterwards, I was done. I had no desire to run another marathon. That's when I got into doing different things like half marathons, adventure racing, and triathlons.

The point here, is that once you set a goal you should continue to work to reach it. You will fail, but you must learn from it, get up and try again. Learn from the failure and utilize this as an opportunity to grow. I did not go to the start line expecting to fail. I showed up each time expecting to reach my goal. I showed up each time with a different strategy. I did different training programs. I learned something about myself and changed each time. Some races over that period I actually did worse, not better. That did not stop me because I believed and knew I could do this.

Another, more recent story, just happened last Tuesday. I had a training run and I asked my oldest son, Cooper, to come run with me and my training partner. Cooper is 12 years old and he loves to run. He is very fast as well. Our run was to be a 10 minute warm up, 28 minute intense, 10 minute warm down. I was thinking I would keep up with him because the distance would be too much for him. He runs cross country but they do not train for that long at one time. When we got to the intense part it was like he had another gear and I was dragging rocks. He left me like I was standing still. I was running a 7:40 minute/mile pace. That is fast for the non-runners out there. He was probably doing a 7:15 minute/mile pace EASY. He would stop, DAD which way? I would yell, because he was so far away, run back to me and I'll tell you! He would, without a sweat mind you, and I would tell him. He would take off again and leave me. It made me feel slow and old. But then I started to turn it around. I would say, he is making me faster, pace yourself, because in the long run you will catch him! Or was it, I am making him look faster!! I will never catch him!!! Well, I did eventually catch him when the warm down came and he circled back to run with me!!!! In the end, we finished at the same time, albeit, he ran further than I did.

What does all this have to do with life you ask? Well here is what I learned! 1. Goals are meant to be hard but achieveable and you should work your hardest everyday to accomplish them. You have to put forth the best effort of yourself everyday because you do not get those days back. There is no giving 120%. There is only 100%. You cannot make up for giving only 80% one day by giving 120% the next day. 2. Pace yourself. Success does not happen over night. Some of the greatest success have come from accidents. Some have taken years such as my marathon goal! 3. Success is defined by you. No one else. You determine what is successful to you. I did not beat Cooper the other day but it was successful for me. He pushed me harder than I would have pushed myself which was a success to me. To him, I was slow, but to me I was fast! Success!

In conclusion, use your setbacks as setups for success! They are the land of opportunity!


I also recommend the book The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday! I am currently reading it but it is very good for this kind of topic.

I hope you enjoyed and remember, Today is a Great Day to Be Alive!

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