Lessons from the marathon

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When I graduated high school I took a conditioning class at a community college and developed a serious passion for pushing and challenging myself.

I became something I NEVER would have dreamt.

I became a runner.

Not a fast runner, not even really a good runner, but a runner nonetheless.

I lost 50 pounds with out really trying and I became obsessed with my 6 day a week workout routine. For the first time in my life I was a morning person. Very quickly into this transformation I set my eyes on something that, according to statistic brain, would make me part of 0.5 precent of the US population.

The marathon.

Now you have to understand the only sports I played involved minimal running. Softball was my main sport from middle school through high school. I never learned to slide into base, I always thought ‘please let me hit the ball’ when it was my turn, and when I was in the field I always wished the ball to be aimed somewhere else. I swam and played tennis too but was never great.

I was driven by this seemingly impossible goal despite my own belief I couldn’t do it. Actually the need to prove myself and others wrong pushed me even harder.

Even during my training and even after finishing the marathon I corrected everyone who called me a runner.

‘No I am not a runner – I just run’

What is it about this term that this idea exists that there is a threshold either of speed, accomplishment, or enjoyment that needs to be met before you are in fact ‘a runner’?

Crossing the finish line at the Twin Citied Medtronic marathon I knew I accomplished something crazy – I don’t care that it took me the whole allotted time. I was proud and accomplished and I was going to complete 50 marathons by 50 years of age in all 50 states … Except maybe Alaska. Maybe even the iron man in Hawaii.

I signed up for two more marathons immediately – I was hooked after all.

I started to notice a funny thing though – that 99.5% of the population I left behind started discrediting me. I couldn’t be a runner because I walked part of the marathon, my finish didn’t really count because I used the entire allotted time, and let’s be honest, I didn’t look like a runner either.

Standing at the starting line for Grandma’s in Duluth felt different. I wasn’t filled with excitement and adrenaline – I was filled with doubt and uncertainty. I clearly wasn’t a competent runner and my breakfast pre-race of an orange juice and a doughnut surly proved that fact.

I hadn’t trained as well and was dealing with knee pain and plantar fasciitis. So my preserved lack of competency was reinforced when I was in significant pain by mile 5.

I finished the marathon. I crossed the finish line. But I quit running. Without buy in, that prove you wrong motivation wears thin.

Until I started writing I had annex on telling you what a great thing my marathon experiences were. But I started pondering why it has been almost 5 years since I ran and why I planned on never doing another distance event.

Here is what I learned:
– That marathon showed how strong my mind is, my body hurt and told my brain that it was too hard but I kept moving.
– Grandma’s showed me I am a social runner. While I normally am an introvert, the lack of spectators in Duluth really made the marathon a mental battle
– It’s mind blowing what you can accomplish one foot in front of the other.
– I am, in fact, a runner.
– There will always be someone to bring you down, but you have the choice to let them in your head.

So this morning I firmly believed I would never do another marathon – this afternoon I will be searching for my running shoes, lacing them up this weekend, and taking that first step.


6 thoughts on “Lessons from the marathon

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  4. Great. Good luck to you. Funny thing is, I was just telling myself that I, too, need to get running not only for myself but also for our crazy hunting dog that loves to run with me.

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