This time last year I’d successfully completed my first ½ marathon, and was ready to take the plunge and sign up for my first full. However, when the moment of truth came, and registration opened for the Marine Corps Marathon, facing the daunting prospect of doubling my effort/output from the longest distance I’d ever run…I froze. Two hours later, the race was full, and the window of opportunity closed. I entered into a downward spiral of self-doubt and shame. I didn’t look like a “runner“, I certainly didn’t feel like one. I lost sight of why I started this, and I stopped running…for months.
At some point during the summer, my wife started talking about going back to Disney and running the ½. I had promised her that if she wanted to do it, I’d run it with her…and so it was time to deliver on that promise. We signed up for the race, started training, joined on for another year with Team All Ears. In early December, we went for a training run on a wooded trail, and my wife tripped and fell, spraining her ankle. A few days later, I came down with viral bronchitis. A few weeks past, and both of us were still in poor shape. The race was in doubt. We had, however, already purchased plane tickets and made reservations, so we moved ahead with plans to make the trip, cheer on our TAE teammates and take our boys to Disney. A few days prior to the trip, buffeted by the support of running mentors, teammates, and friends, we made the choice to bring our running gear and do the best we could.
The day of the race arrived, I taped up my wife’s ankle, inhaled the steroids my doctor had given me to combat the bronchitis, and we made out way to our designated corral for the start. It was a long race. One that tested us. Somewhere around mile 9 I had a heart-to-heart conversation with myself. Telling the truth to oneself can be a difficult thing. I had to admit that the only thing standing between me and my goals was the bullshit story I kept telling myself as to why I couldn’t achieve them. Non-competitive running is not about what you look like, how fast you are relative to anyone else, or any of the other competitive machismo crap that seems to get injected into pretty much everything we do. It’s about personal growth. Setting milestones for yourself and reaching for them. Sometimes you achieve them, sometimes not…but you always take something away from the experience. Pushing yourself to keep on trying, striving, growing…to me, that’s what running is about. The self-confession was freeing. I felt lighter, faster, and suddenly hungry to tackle more. We finished the race and I felt good. Good to have overcome the health challenges of the previous weeks, good to have had an honest self-appraisal that didn’t end in recrimination, good to have the chance to replay what happened last year…but this time get it right. I walked away from that race invigorated, renewed, ready to get back on track to finish what I set out to accomplish.
I am now on a quest to do “13 in ‘13”! 13 races (roughly a 5k, 10k, or ½ every month) over the course of the year, culminating in (dun-duh-dah-daaaa) my first full marathon! It’s aggressive, I’ll give you that…but if you are serious about getting there, cross the bridge and burn it behind you. Next up: looking for a February 5k.
My wife and I running the 2013 Disney 1/2 Marathon