Monday, August 3, 2009

What 13.1 Miles Can Teach You

Yesterday was THE day. The day of my half marathon. The day I planned to run 13.1 miles.

When I decided to run this event almost 6 months ago, I had only one goal – to not get picked up by "the bus" because I didn’t finish in time. You had to complete the run in 3.5 hours or you'd get picked up by "the bus" and taken to the finish line. Well, with a grace period of 5 minutes (I finished in 3 hours 35 minutes and 17 seconds), I crossed the finish line to a cheering crowd and received my medal.

But it wasn't an easy journey and this entire process has taught me some valuable lessons that I'd like to share with you.

Lesson #1
When you set a goal that seems impossible, you will do more than you ever thought possible.

My goal was to run 13.1 miles. At the end of the race, I had done more walking than running, but even this was more than I thought I was capable of. Me - run? Someone who hadn't run a mile since high school was going to train for this in less than 6 months? But I truly believe that big dreams and goals always lead you to do more and be more. As my training progressed, I'd run 2 miles, then a 5k, then 5 miles. The more I ran, the stronger I felt and the more confident I became. And while I didn't run the entire 13.1 miles, I did more than I ever thought possible. Remember, if people aren’t laughing at you when you tell them your goal – it’s not big enough. Some people tried to contain their laugh when I told them about the half-marathon. That let me know I was on the right track.

Lesson #2
Being committed is only half the battle. Staying committed produces the desired results.

Early in this quest, I was a training machine. Running my miles. Doing my cross training. Getting the right shoes, socks, and equipment to measure my pace and mileage. Then, a couple of months ago, I started to slack off. And the 4 weeks leading up to the race, I wasn’t training nearly as consistently as I needed to. The result? I finished the race (and believe me, that was a great accomplishment and I’m very proud of myself), but if I had stayed consistent in my training, my time would have been faster and it wouldn’t have been so hard.

Lesson #3
Big goals are hard.

When you want something, the process to get it may be simple, but it won’t necessarily be easy. Want to run a half marathon? Run. Concept is simple, but it wasn't easy. Want a college degree? Enroll in classes. Concept is simple, but doing the work won't be easy. Want to get out of debt? Stop spending and live below your means. Concept is simple, but we all know that's not easy.

When you're going after your goal, you’ll have to make sacrifices. You’ll have to push yourself to stay focused, stay disciplined, and to keep your eye on the prize. Is getting a degree your goal? Getting a promotion? Starting a business? Getting fit? Running a half marathon? Whatever the goal, if it’s big, it’s not easy. But the good news is that hard does not mean impossible. So set your goals high and fight for it.

Lesson #4
You can't do it alone.

I was just coming up on mile 8, having run most of the first 6 miles when who did I see with the video? My hubby! (I was so glad to see him!!!) At this point, I was doing a pretty good pace walking, but he could see it was challenging and started encouraging me.

“Looking good!”
“Keep going!”
"You’re more than halfway done!”
"You can do it!"

Then, just as I was passing him by, he jumped on the course with me. As I was with one of the slowest pace groups, the "real" runners were miles ahead of me and some had already finished, so we were very spread out. Because of that, no one said anything to him.

He said he’d walk the next mile with me…then he walked one more…and he kept walking with me. Encouraging me all the way – and pushing me to keep my pace. He refused to let the clock beat me. And while there were many occasions when I wanted to tell him to “shut up and go away”, I kept quiet and kept pushing. He walked me right to the finish line! I won't say I would have given up if he wasn't there, but he helped me not just finish, but finish strong and receive my medal.

Lesson #5
It’s always worth it!

Whenever you set a goal and it gets hard, know that it’s worth it. Crossing that finish line, with my feet hurting and my shoulders stiff, was the best feeling in the world. The emotion was so strong that I cried – when I saw the finish line and when I crossed it. Was it hard? Yes. Did I ever want to give up? Absolutely. But whatever you want – that position, that business, that degree, that finish line – no matter what you have to go through to get the results you want, it’s worth it.

Here's a short clip of my start (you'll see me waving to the camera)...followed by my reaction when I crossed the finish line:

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  1. Congratulations! What an accomplishment - makes me tired just thinking about it! You did it!

  2. Thanks Erika. My body is finally starting to feel normal again! I think I'll give things with the words "marathon" in them a break. LOL

  3. MY HERO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    J. Saunders