Don’t hate, but also don’t stop

During the Vancouver Marathon a few weeks ago, I was doing really well for the first 13.1 miles. I’d spent the first few miles running and talking with Liz and Leanne. Then we spread out a bit so I slipped on the headphones and let Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, and some other powerful singers keep me moving forward. I even kept up with a faster pace group for about a mile and enjoyed just listening to the sneakers slap the pavement.

But the bad thing about marathons is that after that first 13.1 miles, there’s another 13.1 miles. In the words of Stephanie Tanner, “How rude!”

The second half was a lot tougher than the first. I had been training, without injury or illness, but not at the level I would have liked. It was an accepted consequence of full-time worker bee and full-time student lifestyle. Not enough time to run around in circles. 🙂 I’d completed four half-marathons since the New Year, but not the number of long training runs that would have made me feel confident. A few more double-digit runs would have definitely helped with the 13.2+ experience.

Each time I hit a wall, a point where I had to either walk or fall, I repeated aloud: “Finish. Don’t get hurt. Don’t hate.” The first two ideas are probably easy to translate but the third was the most important. Each time I had to walk, I would get angry at myself. Angry at the birthday cake I had eaten a few days before. Angry at every television show I’d watched the previous month. Angry at my homework struggles that took more time than they should have. I just hated my failures. I would also get angry at all of the happy shiny people passing me. Why were they still running up this darn hill? I had to remind myself that no matter what, I was completing a marathon and that those happy shiny people were just doing their best, as I was trying to do too. Each time I walked was a practice in forgiveness as I accepted, for possibly the tenth time, that I was human and was loved no matter how fast or slow I went.

After a minute or two of walking (and accepting) I would flip the mental coin over. Yes, it didn’t matter what time the clock said when I crossed the finish line. But it would be so much more fun if it said 5:29.59 or less (beating my 5:30 time goal). So I’d run to the next block, or next big tree, or next telephone pole, or definitely down that long hill because that was extra fun. “5:29.59” was the second mantra in my head, the one that got me to move again. Although I was mostly solo for the second half of the marathon (every once in a while I caught up to Liz and we debated who talked us into doing this), I definitely had an ongoing conversation about when to walk and why, and when to run and why.

And in case you didn’t see the picture on Facebook, my official time was 5:28.08. And the happy dance was a few days later, after in could fully move again.

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