I have never run a ‘race pace’ so slow in all the races I have entered in the last five years. But I have never felt more accomplished than I do now 9 days after completing my first marathon. If you have read any of my previous blog posts from the past several months, you will know how meaningful this marathon finish is to me. I am exceedingly grateful and supremely amazed that I was able to convince my legs to keep moving for 26.2 miles non-stop for five and a half hours. Clearly, the body is able if the mind is willing and believing!
“All you need is the courage to believe in yourself and put one foot in front of the other.” — Kathrine Switzer
As a personal trainer, many of my clients had no doubt I could accomplish this distance to completion. But I had other thoughts and beliefs about my ability; thoughts that could not comprehend such an accomplishment. Giving attention to those kinds of thoughts did not make a finish line seem likely in my future. I did not like thinking those kinds of thoughts nor did I like the way those thoughts made me feel. They made me feel impotent in my striving; they made me feel foolish for desiring such a goal for myself; those lousy negative thoughts took away my joy. And whenever I caught myself in that downward spiral, I got mad and made myself wake up to change the channel of my thinking.
“You don’t need to do twenty-five squats today to build your quad muscles. You need to think five positive thoughts about your motivations for running, fitness, and lifelong health. Because it’s not the quads that will get your legs moving, it’s the thoughts.” –Amby Burfoot
Clearly, the work before race day had already been done in my physical training. And as the calendar pages flipped closer to my marathon, I realized the greatest obstacle I would face would be my own thinking thoughts. So there was nothing else for me to do except give myself permission to think thoughts about all those things that could and would go right for me during the marathon.
I remember now, how those kinds of thoughts felt like such a luxury to me during the race…truly like the wind beneath the wings of my feet. Astonishment was my traveling companion in those last six miles to the finish…how was it possible to arrive at this distance feeling so exhilarated and and so grateful?
I have never before known such personal determination. And yet, I know there were so many others who gave me assistance on my way to the finish line…of this I am most gratefully certain! Between the cheering spectators on the course and at home, I sit here today, nine days later amazed. Amazed that I moved my legs for more than fifty-two thousand consecutive steps to cross a finish line I set out to conquer more than nine months ago…my first marathon finish. What an honor and privilege it is to run this race we call life!
“Life is for participating, not for spectating.”