One of my “before I die” goals was to run a marathon. At the age of 38, I decided to go for it. Never having run much before, I began with just one mile and added a mile each weekend. The first time I ran three miles I was exhausted, but exhilarated. Before I knew it I was up to 10 miles for my long run and doing three “baby” runs during the week.
I was doing great on my training schedule until the fall. Work and parenting commitments demanded more of my time, and I fell far behind. I felt sure I would never be ready in time. Discouraged and overwhelmed, I was tempted to give up. My children and their friends wouldn’t let me. Each weekend they would gather around me and ask me how many miles I was up to now. They were invested in my success and offered to keep me company and carry my water for me on my training runs. I had become a powerful role model and the choice was mine whether I wanted to model perseverance or failure. I decided to start fresh. I backed down and did an easy eight-mile run, just to build up my confidence. Then I added two miles each weekend, instead of the usual one mile, and before I knew it I was ready for an 18-mile pre-marathon training race. The morning of the race arrived and we had the worst rain and windstorm we had seen in years. My husband turned off the alarm and said, “Surely, no one will be running in this weather.”
He couldn’t have been more wrong. The race was packed. After all, anyone who has worked for ten months to get up to 18 miles is not going to let a little wind and rain stop them. I completed the race in last place; but it felt like first place. I now knew I had the confidence to go the distance and that I was going to finish the marathon, even if I had to crawl over the finish line.
The day of the marathon it was, 26.2 miles, do or die. One of the smartest things I did was to have friends running with me the entire way. One friend would run for 6 miles and another would run for the next three miles. We had such a fabulous time. Crossing that finish line, with my friends and family cheering me on, was one of the highlights of my life. The joy and power I felt was indescribable. I realized that training for a marathon is a metaphor for life. The best way to reach a big goal is to be surrounded by support and bite it off a little at a time. If you fall behind, don’t quit. Just start in again, build up your confidence, and then keep moving forward step by step.
When I finished the marathon, I was a different person than when I began. The marathon not only improve my fitness level, it improved my confidence. I dream bigger now. I know that if I just take it a step at a time, I can complete anything I set my mind to.
Copyright (c) 2007 Steven E