Note to Self…

Christy Murray

Christy Murray is assistant dean for career development at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. In this role, Murray leads Carey’s Career Development Office, a team of career coaches and employer relations managers that prepare students to be competitive candidates in the global business community. Murray also serves as a key liaison with the university on the evolution of the life-design framework and career development. Murray holds a Master of Science in Organizational Counseling from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Miami University, Ohio. She is a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) certified practitioner and an active member of the MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance (MBA CSEA) organization.

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Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

Lao Tzu

I vividly remember my first run. It was 10 years ago. It was short. 60 seconds to be exact. My lungs were on fire and I was uncomfortable. I didn’t think I could possibly make it to mile one. So I signed up for my first 5K.

Last month I ran my third, half marathon. 13.1 miles to be exact. I was outside of my comfort zone (I signed up with less than 3 weeks to train) and my spirit was strong. And now I have decided to sign up for my first, full marathon.

Note to Self: Gear matters.

When I ran my first half marathon in Washington, DC, in March 2013, I had trained well. In order to mentally prepare, I broke my long runs into three-mile increments. I knew I could easily run three miles and segmenting runs by three miles was a training approach that worked well for me. The week before the race, my feet really hurt. While I had planned proper training, nutrition, and hydration to keep myself physically going, I hadn’t accounted for the way the increased mileage would impact the cushion in my shoes and how my feet would react.

Note to Self: Finishing strong is also mental.

On the day of the race, I started strong. By mile 10, my feet stung with every step. I didn’t think I could possibly make it to mile 13.1. Then I found myself behind a man who was running with two prosthetic legs. And he was completing a full marathon distance. Miraculously, my feet stopped hurting. And my breathing improved after I stopped hyperventilating given the emotion that struck me at that moment. The memory is still vivid today.

Note to Self: You can talk yourself into anything.

When I ran my second, half marathon in Philadelphia in March 2014, I was most excited about reaching the hot chocolate bar at the finish line. I trained even more vigorously, completing my long training runs outside on brutally cold days. I felt well prepared with the right training, the right gear, and the right mindset. On the day of the Philly race, it was 50 degrees and pouring rain. It took mental discipline to convince myself to get out of a warm bed in a warm room and run 13.1 miles in the pouring rain on a loop that passed by my hotel room three times. I had planned runs outside in various dimensions—hot and cold temperatures, hilly and flat courses. However, I had not accounted for, nor had I put myself in the scenario of, running in the pouring rain. Questions I contemplated that morning included, “Should I run?”, “What gear works best in rain?” and finally, “Can I do this?” (Smart wool socks rock!)

Note to Self: Supportive colleagues are a gift.

Prior to my third, half marathon in Charleston in January 2016, I shared with several JHU Carey colleagues the news of my upcoming race. Mike Doyle shared a winning poem he had been given prior to his first marathon written by Joe Henderson of Runners World to inspire me. Kathy Bovard gave me a pair of @lilytrotters to protect me. (Not a sock! And they rock!) Corinne Brassfield, Laura Arthur, Kathy Marmon, Pam Williams, and Katy Montgomery, all wished me safety and luck on my run to encourage me.

Note to Self: Fall fast and be patient with victory.

During an outdoor training run two weeks before the Charleston race, I was at the five mile mark when I tripped and fell flat on the ground while running downhill. I literally and figuratively tripped myself. Ironically it was at the exact moment when I started to mentally celebrate being finished with two miles to go. My first thought was, “Who saw me?!” (ego) and then, “Am I hurt?” (minor wounds). I shook off my pride and humbly ran my final miles.

Note to Self: Presence matters.

Perhaps the most touching moment of my running career to date happened moments after I finished the Charleston half marathon. I crossed the finish line and was headed to meet my friends and grab some water. A woman who had also been running the half marathon stopped me to say that I had motivated her to run faster. She said she saw me ahead of her at one point and decided it would be her goal to catch me. She then said that while she didn’t end up catching me, she was inspired to run faster because of me.

What does your “note to self” list look like? How will you pivot when you fail (or fall) fast? How have you incorporated your missteps to build towards future success?

Developing one’s career is similar to running a first mile, a 13th mile, or a 26th mile.

A job search is a half marathon. Engagement in a career you find satisfying is a full marathon.

How will you mentally prepare for your job search? Do you take it a mile at a time or segment by 3s? Let me know how you will train for your ideal job and how you will define being in a satisfying career. Email me at if you have any suggestions for where I should run my first full marathon!

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