"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Run 26.2 miles. The marathon. A distance that challenges runners physically, mentally, emotionally.
October 3, 2010. The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. My first marathon, and a day that took me to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
Does life ever feel that way for you?
Let's dig a little deeper into this. The day began with partly sunny skies, cool temperatures, and a very light wind. For running…pretty ideal conditions. And as I ran…as I ran alongside all these other amazing athletes, I felt energized by their presence, their moving forward. I also recalled the countless hours of training that went into getting me ready for this day, training that began six months before this day came.
Backtrack to late winter, 2010. I've been thinking about doing a marathon…except that a distance of 26.2 miles just seems unreachable.
Limited by my own beliefs in what is possible within me.
Have you ever been there?
Six months ago (it seems like ages). This idea of competing in a marathon rises up again. It rises up…only to be knocked down by that little voice in my head…the one that says "you can't do this", "what are you thinking, anyway?", "this is way too far for you to run"….and all sorts of other self-limiting thoughts.
Have you ever had a voice in your head say things like that to you?
What happens if we don't listen to that "voice of reason"? (and "voice of reason"…I am more deeply believing that is is not…)
I talked to a friend. A friend who has competed in the marathon before (several times). That "voice of reason" cropped in there, too. (perhaps a better term would be "voice of giving up"…) A friend, a supporter, a person in your corner – that can make all the difference. Lori was all of that, and more. She believed in me, she believed in what was possible, she believed in doing.
“Do or do not…there is no try.” ~ Yoda
A plan to get there…from my physical/mental/emotional state six months ago…to today.
And so the journey began.
How about you, what journey are you on right now? Are these journeys that are taking you to places of deep meaning?
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." ~ Lao-tzu
Running. Swimming. Ab work. Strength training. Biking. Oh…and lots more running!!
Especially as I think back over those training runs – with one long run every week – I recall moments throughout this journey. Coming home, elated with my time. Coming home, thinking that I could have likely walked faster. Having my wife, Lora, drive to pick me up because I couldn't complete the run – sitting dejected alongside the running path. Stopping for water breaks – and being so refreshed by a simple bit of water into my body. Feeling pain in my knees, in my hips, in my feet as I ran. Feeling that pain leave my body – as my body became stronger. Running in the quiet of the early morning hours. Running in a rainstorm. And all the other moments that were steps on this journey.
“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” ~ Don Williams, Jr
This journey you are each on…this is YOUR journey…your life…now…
And that journey on October 3rd. Back to where this all started up above. I felt light on my feet. The wind, mostly at my back. What a great start to this day!
And then…mile twenty. My feet, getting heavy. My legs…sore and tired. My soul…wanting to stop.
Six more miles. So far…at that moment in time.
Have you every felt that way? Have you ever felt like the destination of your journey seemed out of reach?
In those things that matter…keep on keeping on.
Something I kept telling myself – from mile twenty through twenty five…the most mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging miles of this journey. Distances in my head that had been measured in miles earlier in the marathon, became distances measured in telephone poles…in city streets…in the spectator ahead cheering runners on.
Slowly…the miles went down. My pace – slowed by physical and mental challenges I was facing.
Then…the destination in sight!
Mile twenty five. An increase in spectators (wow…I have such great respect for all the people volunteering to help out, and for all the amazing spectators cheering on the runners!), the end in sight along the horizon of Lake Michigan. The physical pain, the mental challenges, the emotional roller coaster…all taking a back seat…as resolve (and adrenaline) kicked in more deeply.
Mile twenty six. Two-tenths of a mile to go. So close. The crowd – more exuberant than ever! My family – within view! The finish line – such a glorious sight.
Back to that journey. My journey. Your journey.
The highs. The lows. Everything in between. These steps that are our life journey – in however we are living our life – wherever that journey is taking us…these moments (from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows) are ours. And it's these moments – the moments that are our journey – that make the destination what it is for each of us.
Emotions sweep over me. From those early beginnings…where 26.2 miles seemed unreachable, to those training runs that had moments of deep good and deep challenge, to this particular day. To these 26.2 miles – 26.2 miles that challenged me to my core and on all levels (physically, mentally, emotionally) – I am there.
Finisher! At this moment…not a more beautiful word in the English language.
So it is with me…and so it is with you. We travel out on these journeys in our life – whatever they might be – we face the monsters that come along the way, we celebrate the amazing-ness of what we are doing, we revel in the joy this brings us…all the way along the journey.
Then we reach our destination. (or some derivative of it)
This destination…it's a moment in our life journey. Perhaps it's a big moment, and one that has deep meaning. Perhaps it's a small moment. Or something in between.
…and our journey continues…
Today, I reflect back on this journey toward competing in the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon…and I see that this journey has forever altered me…has added belief in what IS possible…and has given me a springboard as this journey through my life continues.
As does yours…
Your journey continues today. Are you choosing a journey that has deep meaning for you?
Epilogue: I would like to especially thank a couple of people who were instrumental in this journey toward the marathon.
- My wife, Lora, for her amazing and continuous support through all of this. And especially for the time that she committed to being along on this road with me. This whole journey has been a commitment for me, as well as for my family. Lora, know that you are loved…
- Wonderful friend Lori – who has been there before – who knows the marathon ropes. Lori, without your support and guidance along the way, this wouldn't have come to fruition. Your help in creating a plan to get to October 3rd, your tweaking as we went along, your listening to all the highs and lows along the way – all of this made crossing the finish line that much sweeter.
- Friends at InStep, a local running store here in the Milwaukee area – and especially to Meaghan. The training runs you organized, the questions you answered, the support you provided – all of this made the marathon that much more achievable.
"It is amazingly empowering to have the support of a strong, motivated, and inspirational group of people." ~ Susan Jeffers
To each of you, and everyone who has provided support and encouragement in some way – thank you!