Monday, September 19, 2011

Underpromise, Overdeliver

That was one of our mantras in the client service world: you will always exceed your clients' expectations if you underpromise and overdeliver, no matter the product. Works for me in business and perhaps also in life.

Take this past weekend, for instance.

Months ago I signed up for the NorthShore Inline Marathon to be held in Duluth, MN on September 17th. It's a marathon on inline skates. And in case you don't know, a marathon by definition is 26.2 miles. There is no such thing as a 10-mile marathon. If it's 10-miles long, it's a race but not a marathon. If it's 13.1 miles, it's a half-marathon. So I always find it funny when I tell people my husband (or I) are training for a marathon and they ask how far that particular marathon is. Same as the other marathons: 26.2 miles.

I digress.

I trained for it. Kind of. I tried to log about 20 miles per week over the course of the summer. I felt silly when my skating miles were put up against those of others I know who are training and they logged loads more miles than me. Because, of course, they are running, not skating; their miles are infinitely more difficult than mine, and they are logging twice as many as I am. God I'm a wimp, I thought.

I went on a few long skates, my longest being 22.8 miles which I completed in about 2 hours. I did the math: if I had to complete 26.2 miles that means I would finish in around 2 hrs and 15 mins. Works for me. And I will not feel wimpy about this, I told myself. It may not be as difficult as running a marathon, but it depends on your point of view. I heard lots of people (veteran runners included) tell me they could not imagine being on skates at all, much less covering that kind of ground while staying upright on wheels.

I signed up for Wave 5, for those who expected to finish between 2:11 and 2:20.

Except I didn't.

I finished in 1 hr 58 mins 22 seconds. My average speed was a little over 13 mph.

I surprised myself in a good way, and that feels great. I was really, really happy with my time. I wouldn't have been if I had expected to finish under 2 hours and did so. I would've just met my expectations. Instead, I exceeded them.

Maybe that's just wrong -- set the bar low so you can get over it. But I don't feel like I set the bar incredibly low, and it was grounded in data (per previous training).

I actually had energy at the end of the race; I passed lots of people the last 4 miles, I was so thrilled to be near the end. I probably could've gone faster the whole way, but I didn't want to chance a faster pace at the beginning only to peter out at the end.

Best of all, I had fun. I met fantastic people. And I got to know my co-worker, Becky, much better, as she was gracious enough to let me stay at her house the night before.

If you know me you know I'm not usually one to toot my own horn, to pat myself on the back. But I was really proud of this accomplishment. It felt GREAT.

I will be signing up again for next year. This was too much fun not to do it again.


  1. You definitely have bragging rights. Around '07 I started skating a bunch of these marathons and didn't break two hours until the 2009 NSIM, my tenth full. Been out of it for a couple years now and I do need to improve.

    Side note, there was a headwind which made for slower times across the board. If there was no headwind, your finishing time may have been a good 15 minutes faster.

  2. Thanks for the perspective, Paul! I had no idea how the times compared to prior years since it was my first.

  3. You should be proud and not ashamed to toot your own horn. After all who's going to toot it for you tooter, you Dad, you betcha! I would think my feet would be sore from being on skates for that long. You did it and that was quite an accomplishment. Way to go tootermoose!