Sunday, October 5, Joe and I completed the Sleeping Bear Dunes Half Marathon. Because of my foot injury I had only run one time in the previous three weeks without pain. That run was five days before the race and a distance of 3.5 miles. Also, the longest distance I had run before the race was 8.02 miles and 8.5 miles for Joe. Race day was filled with many firsts, personal records, and (of course!) life lessons.
1. I can do hard things. When I make a decision and commit to that decision - regardless of how difficult the task is - I am capable. Often I don't commit to things because I question my capacity. I discovered in the training and the race that I am capable of much more than I believe.
2. The journey is easier (and made possible) with a buddy (Joe). I honestly could not, or would not, have completed this journey without Joe by my side. Joe's questions, encouragement, persistence, and sometimes being a pain in the butt were all for my good. I needed every bit of prodding Joe offered.
3. Having people who are further in the journey (Clay, Lisa, Evey) is crucial to my success. I received good, sound, positive, encouraging advice and help from runners who had already run 13.1 miles. The words they gave were a big part of being prepared race day.
4. Without training there is no chance for victory. If I had never trained I could not have finished. The training was not only physical, but there were many mental barriers conquered during the months of training before the race.
5. The best way to finish is to keep moving. When we came to the "12 mile" sign everything below my waist was in agony. We slowed to a walk, but I knew if I stopped the motion, or sat for a minute, starting again would have been nearly impossible. It was so important to keep moving.
6. Quitting is not an option. Joe and I had two goals for the half: start and finish. "Quit" was not a word in our vocabulary. As we ran mile after mile we talked of finishing - we never talked about stopping. I had seen the piles of cut oranges before we started and in the latter miles I had my eyes and tastebuds on that prize too!
7. The goal for the race is personal. Every runner out on the course had a different objective. Some set out to win. Some set out for friendship and fun. Joe and I ran as a metaphor for the life we are living in 2014. We are "running the race" of life and all we faced in the training and running of a half marathon has lessons for our personal journey too.
8. Remember how far you have come. When I began training I could barely run one mile. It was fun and rewarding as we ran 13.1 miles to recount along the way just how far we had come. "Remember the first time we ran a 5k?" "I remember finishing my first 4 mile run. I was exhausted, but it felt so good." And then at 9 miles we had run the most consecutive miles we had ever run. We had so many memories to relish as we kind of applauded ourselves for how far we had come.
9. Injuries and obstacles are bound to happen. Early in my training I suffered a lower back injury that halted my training for nearly four weeks. And in the final three weeks of training I injured my foot. This prevented me from getting in the 10 mile run I had hoped for before race day and limited my training to one 3.5 mile run in those final three weeks. I discovered that my attitude was key during those times. It would have been easy to quit at that point, but I was able to wait patiently and still complete the half marathon goal.
10. My mind and my self talk is powerful. It is easy to speak lies to myself. It is easy to tell myself that it is too hard or I can't do it. 13.1 miles showed me how crucial, valuable, and powerful positive self-talk is. When I speak positive truth it has great impact - my thoughts are powerful!
11. Utilize the aid stations. Water, gatorade, goo, and grapes were necessary parts of the journey. I suppose one could think they are stronger for not needing any of those things along the way, but I would say they are foolish. We can not complete any journey without nourishment. In fact, I unashamedly downed 12 orange quarters at the end of the race!
12. Know the limits and push them. If I had never pushed the limits in training, I probably wouldn't have run further than three miles. Mileage beyond that was hard and a 5k was the furthest I had run all at once up until that point. Pushing the limits helped reveal unknown strength.
13. There is always a wall. "There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going." - author unknown In everything worth pursuing my experience has been that there are walls. The question is, "what will we do when we hit the wall?" Many turn around, stop, or hope it goes away. If knowing the limits and pushing them reveals our ability, then busting through a wall shows the depth of our character, will, and desire. Every big desire we have is on the other side of a wall.
.1 Just a little bit more. This is not only about the distance, but going "just a little bit more" requires digging deep and finding the reservoirs of inner strength. What area of your life needs "just a little bit more"? You are spending time with your kids. What would it look like to spend just a little bit more? You are working your business. What would it look like to work just a little bit more? You are loving your spouse. What would it look like to love just a little bit more?
The extraordinary journey is often long, difficult, and tiring, but it is also so worth it!
Read Joe's Half Marathon thoughts by clicking here.
Read my half marathon training post by clicking here.