Monday, May 10, 2010

13 lessons in 13.1 Miles

Sat. May 8th, I finished my second Indianapolis Mini Marathon! 13.1 miles! It was a balmy 40 degrees with winds gusting up to 35 mph. I was beyond excited about that! Since the race ended, I have been reflecting on the experience and in many ways found that this finish meant more to me than the first. The first race was about endurance. Did I have what it took to keep walking a steady pace for 13.1 miles? The second was about digging deep and determining that I am not a quitter. Let me explain...

The fear of staying ahead of the bus that picks you up if you don't keep an 18 min mile pace has always been a driving force for me. Last year the 5K race started after the Mini so the bus was never even in my sights. Even still, at first I was scared to death for the first several miles that I wouldn't walk fast enough and would get picked up. This year, they started the 5K first which means the "Back of the Pack" crew was right behind the last people to cross the start line. I knew this was going to be the case, so I entered a faster time in order to start well ahead of the back. Somehow without realizing it, most people forged ahead and I didn't even realize I was one of the last people crossing the start line. I never looked behind me, so I had no idea this was happening. Needless to say, about 5 min. into the walk, my friend Missy pointed out that the "Back of the Pack" crew was right behind us. I totally freaked out! Lynn, Missy and I took off running. Due to different paces, I ended up going ahead by myself. I wanted to walk with Lynn and Missy, but fear of getting picked up made me keep running every little bit to stay ahead. It seemed like those clanging cow bells were right behind me.

Needless to say, the first couple of miles were a complete mental battle for me. I felt the task was hopeless. I didn't think I could go fast enough to put distance between myself and the bus. I didn’t think I could battle the wind for 13.1 miles. I didn’t think I could mentally go the full 13.1 miles with the bus right on my heels. I didn’t think I was strong enough to do it all alone. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I fought the urge to quit…to give up for nearly 2 miles. But as I contemplated quitting, I kept thinking how my family had come to see me cross that finish line, how I had bought a shirt that said “I Finished 13.1 miles”, how I knew that EVERYONE in my life including my kids at school knew that I was doing this, and I didn’t want them to think I had failed. Instead of picturing defeat, I started to picture myself crossing that finish line. So, I kept running every little bit. I noticed that by mile 3, I couldn’t hear the cow bells any more and I could barely see the bus. All the people who had stopped to go to the bathroom were now behind me and there was a whole sea of people between me and the bus. I am starting to believe I can actually do this.

Between miles 3-5 I really made good time and got into my stride. During mile 5 as I was approaching the Indy 500 track, I started talking to a girl who was also walking alone. She had quite a story to tell and was doing her first marathon. Many people had told her not to do it because they thought she was setting herself up for failure. We had a wonderful talk and it was very motivating to me to be able to encourage her…it was exactly the spark I needed to face the 2.5 mile lap around the track. During mile 9 things started to get a little tough. I could feel some blisters forming and the thought of 4 more miles was depressing, but I knew I could finish. Right before mile 10 I heard someone scream my name. I turned around and there was my friend, Jami that I teach with. I was able to join her and her sister for the last 3 miles. It was nice to have someone to talk with as I finished the race.

Having my family and my best friend cheering for me at the finish line was very special. I loved having them there. They were really the motivation that kept me putting one foot in front of the other when it would have been easier to give up.

So, here are 13 lessons I learned in 13.1 miles…

13. Next year (if I do this again), I’m starting with the Kenyans!

12. I will not die if I run.

11. I hate cowbells.

10. Nervous pee is just that…if you ignore it, it will go away. (I
refused to stop for the whole 13.1 miles)

9. Yellow Gatorade is gross.

8. Black spandex is not flattering on everyone.

7. Telling my students my goals is a good motivator.

6. Sheer determination can take you farther than you think.

5. I’m stronger than I give myself credit for.

4. God sends along people when we really need them.

3. It’s okay to be alone.

2. If the bus (or a large dog) is nipping at my heels, I’ll not stick
around to help you…I will run to save myself. (Sorry, Missy)

1. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
-Phil. 4:13