13.1 Things I Learned from a Half Marathon
Yesterday I finally achieved part of a long time goal of mine. I completed the PF Chang’s Half Marathon in 2 hours, 34 minutes and 48 seconds. I have so many thoughts and comments, I don’t even know where to start.
My journey began in March of 2012. You can read my first post here. Nothing in the world suggested that I could run 13.1 miles in one period of time. But I wanted that goal to be accomplished so bad. I wanted to be able to say I did one of the hardest things I could imagine me doing. So that I could say that I can do anything I set my mind to without doubt or fear.
The lessons and insights I’ve gain over the last 10 months are worth a lifetime of learning. And every one of them apply to every aspect of life. Let me share some of them here.
- If it were easy, anyone would do it – Making this kind of commitment requires doing something that only approximately 2% of Americans have done. (Was unable to find real stats but those were the estimates I could find).
- Having a Want to Win doesn’t mean anything without the Want to Train – I read this (or something like it, couldn’t take notes while I was running) on a T-shirt during the race. It’s so true. I wanted to run a marathon for a long time but I didn’t want to train. Finally I was committed enough and made it happen.
- Things are usually easier than you anticipate – I had run a 10k on Thanksgiving and struggled my way through that so I was pretty sure that all the last minute training set backs I had experienced were going to make this much more challenging than I had hoped to plan for. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a lot easier than I expected. No walk in the park, but I didn’t slow down much for the second half of the run like I expected I would.
- Shit happens, keep going – I had a lot of challenges during my training. Thankfully, I didn’t allow any of them stop me from accomplishing my goal. I just stuck with it, maybe slowing down a bit but never giving up.
- Along that lines, When the wind blows hard, it will soon change directions – There were times when training was harder than others. And there were times when training was ridiculously easy. Never give up when it’s hard because right around the corner, it gets easy.
- Always be clear about what you want – This relates a lot more to the people who were on my support team. It wasn’t always easy for them to know what I needed and I learned that I had to be clear to them so that they could support me in the way it was best for me. People can’t read minds after all.
- Sometimes you have to have faith in someone else’s belief in you before you can believe in yourself – Doubt in ourselves is a constant challenge. I really wasn’t sure I could do this when I started. However, one person, my friend Paul Guerrero, stood out and said I could. I had faith in his belief in me for the longest time until I finally had belief in myself. Without that, I couldn’t have made it through.
- Having fun makes anything easier – That same person that had belief in me before I did, also helped me to run the half. He was at my side during the entire race and made sure that I didn’t miss out on the fun! Because of this, those first 10 miles seemed to just FLY by!
- Set little milestones on a long journey – If I had only been training to run 13.1 miles, it would have been long and hard. Instead, I was training to beat my time and mileage logged in my last run. Every training day was a new opportunity to do just a little better. I celebrated the little wins along the way.
- Sometimes you just want to quit – When I first started running, it was hard! I could barely breath. But I was committed and it was easy to make incremental progress. Then I hit a mid point where training was drudgery. It was boring and tedious and I just wanted to quit. I stuck with it and it got past that point to become moderately enjoyable again.
- Beyond anything else, your goal must come first – There were times when it felt so easy to let other things happen instead of getting in my run, especially where other people in my life were concerned. This wasn’t their goal so it was hard to let them know that I’d rather get up at 5am to run than to stay up till 2am hanging with friends. There was some balance there but my goal, for the most part, had to come first. And sometimes the sacrifices that have to be made are hard.
- The hardest part is to just get going – Sometimes taking those first few steps are the hardest. Once I’d get going, I’d fall into a rhythm and be fine. I knew that I just had to force myself to take the first few steps every morning.
- Look for opportunities not excuses – During my training, I traveled on two cruises, suffered two injuries that put me in physical therapy, had surgery and experienced days where the low temps were in the high 90s at 4:30 in the morning and many other challenges. At one point in my life, these would have been reasons not to train. This time, I found a way to train that worked within the limits of these challenges and discovered the joy of running on a ship for example!
13.1 Life truly is about the journey and not the destination – after completing the run, there was a sense of, that’s it? It’s over? Fortunately, my rational brain doesn’t let that be it and doesn’t diminish what I’ve accomplished. I’ll enjoy the celebration, pats on the back and acknowledgement I receive for being a 2%er. With that though, I know the journey is never over. Now I will set a new goal that may or may not involve distance running.
I have a new response to those that come to me and say they could never be a runner or never run that far. I once said that. I hated running when I started. I was bad at it and every step was awful. Somewhere along the way, I learned to really enjoy it. There’s something special out there on the road that I’ve only ever felt when I was running. What I will say to those that say they hate or could never… “You CHOOSE not to and if that’s what you CHOOSE, that’s ok, but don’t say you can’t.”
Read the comments below for a few more miles worth of learning! I may just be on track for 26.2!