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January 4, 2015 / Stephanie Vermillion

Gutsy is Sprinting the Extra Mile(s)

Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.

As I crossed mile marker 19, I knew it was going to happen. The fall sky was a vibrant, crisp blue. The breeze was strong enough to keep me cool for three hours of running, but slight enough to not disrupt my pace. Yes today, on this perfect day, I was going to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Or so I thought.

They tell you never to rely solely on technology for pace during a race, but I must have skipped that lesson. My new Garmin watch was guiding me from mile to mile on what felt like an “easy” 8:06 average pace. Well, that should have been my first clue. But it didn’t register until mile 20.


My watch reads that lovely 8:06 pace and I’m feeling good.

Beep, beep.

Wait, 9:10? Where did that come from?

Beep, beep, beep.

Mile 19? I already passed that a long time ago. And wait … this stupid thing is no longer reporting my pace – or capturing miles – at all anymore. It’s BROKEN! {Insert explicative}.

I quickly calculated my overall time and broke it down by mile (see, PR pros can do math!) only to find out I had been running miles 16 through 20 one minute per mile slower than my goal pace – even though my watch said I was right on target. Seeing as this is the closest I’ve ever been to my lifelong running goal of a Boston Qualifying time (BQ), I had two options:

Give up or get gutsy.

We’re constantly faced with these two paths in our lives.

At work, it’s easy to sail through without overexerting yourself or trying too hard – and many do so successfully. But where’s the fun in that?

While I’m still technically new in my PR career, I set quite lofty goals for myself from day one. They keep me pushing through those late-night work hours, and keep me focused on my career pursuits. Are they realistic? No way. But they’re exciting, they’re challenging, and they’re the perfect level of gutsy to get me to the next level.

And gutsy is more than a day job.

When you live right, this risk-taking mindset can spice up your entire life.

It’s volunteering for multiple months in a third-world country where you don’t know the language. It’s starting a personal blog when you’re consistently tight on time. It’s interning at a major agency in a foreign country where you know no one. It’s saying yes to puppy parenthood even though you have no idea where to start.

And it’s choosing to sprint six miles straight after already running 20 to overcome technological adversity and qualify for the Boston Marathon – by one second.

That’s right: One second.

Columbus Marathon Results _ Vermillion

A breakdown of my pace/mile at the Columbus Marathon. (Photo from

When I realized my watch malfunctioned and I was way off BQ pace, I decided to suck it up, down some Gatorade and sprint 6.2 miles for a personal best marathon time of 3:34:59.

On Oct. 20, 2013, I got gutsy, and it paid off. Now, whenever I face a similar situation – be it work, running or life in general – I remember that perfect fall day when I accomplished my dreams because I chose the gutsy path.

(Note to PR State of Mind readers: I will not be posting this coming Sunday, Jan. 11, because I’ll be recovering from the Disney Marathon that – God willing – I will complete earlier that morning. Wish me luck!)

One Comment

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  1. Jessica Lawlor / Jan 4 2015 9:48 pm

    This story totally had me on the edge of my seat, Stephanie! Gah, technology! I’m so happy you were able to BQ and I’m even happier you shared this story for the contest. Thank you!

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