Today, a few days out from the Run the Bluegrass half marathon, I can truthfully say that I only have positive memories of the race. At the time, I thought I’d never forget the searing pain in my hamstrings or the growing animosity I felt toward the hilliness of the Bluegrass. In the moment, the race was physically and mentally difficult. In retrospect, it was nothing but inspiring.
At the starting line, I saw a woman with a t-shirt that read, “I’m a Stage 4 cancer survivor. I run for those who can’t.” I got choked up at that. It put things into perspective.
Somewhere around the 3 mile mark, I got to read the cape of a woman in front of me. Hers was another inspiring story. It read:
WONDER WOMAN. Heart attack survivor – 1/2/12.
I picked up the pace and carried on a little conversation with her, telling her that I was so impressed. She said that her heart attack wasn’t going to slow her down. Shortly after she got out of the hospital, she was on the treadmill and ready to go. She was wearing a heart rate monitor and was determined to finish. I wish I’d checked out her bib number so I could see how she did.
I know these weren’t the only two stories of normal, ordinary people overcoming adversity. Maybe they were extreme instances, but every runner out there had overcome something to give it their best that morning. I’d overcome a fear of being considered too out of shape to ever run.
After the race, a lot of people – friends and family – told me they were proud of me because they could never imagine running a half marathon. My advice to them was to find something equally as scary, to set their mind to it, and accomplish it. My half marathon doesn’t have to be your half marathon. Maybe your half marathon is swimming a certain number of laps in the pool. Maybe it is walking to the end of the driveway. Maybe it’s approaching your boss to negotiate a better work situation or salary for yourself.
It’s all about the challenge and the preparation to accomplish the goal. The medal at the end is just a sweet reward.