Saturday, June 19, 2010

Creating Myself: Life Lessons from a Half Marathon

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Today, I ran my first half marathon...a total of 13.1 miles. Why would anyone want to run that long? I have no idea, but it was on the list of things I wanted to do in my life.

It was quite the experience...full of highs and lows...and lows and lows and lows. It was a very challenging day...physically and mentally! It started when the alarm went off at 4 am...after a few hours of poor quality sleep. I can never sleep when I have a big event or when I am concerned that I might not hear the alarm. So, up and at 'em at 4 am.

I parked at one of the bus pick-up locations and got on board a bus right away. I shared a seat with a girl named Jenny, who had run the race before. She was very informative and it was great to have someone who knew what she was doing. The bus took us to the starting line area, where Jenny showed me where to drop off my sweat bag (a bag where you store your stuff during the race) and (more importantly) how to navigate the seemingly endless crowd in line for the ever-favorite biffies.


Here was my view near the starting line.

At 6:30 am, the race started and 5000 runners moved as one. The first 10 miles were actually okay. Initially, I felt like I could have gone harder. The competitor in me was ready to pass each person in front of me, but I wanted to pace myself so that I did not burn out at the end. Luckily, my common sense was louder than my ego, and I used my heart rate monitor to keep a steady pace. 

It was during the last three miles that things started to get rough. The very last mile was THE longest mile of my life. I just wanted to call it quits. But I kept plodding on, and I met my goal: to finish. 

While there were many times I questioned my sanity of taking on such a challenge, I was inspired by the people along the entire 13.1 miles that came out to cheer, the bravery of the people who were running beside me, the athletic prowess of the elite runners who finished in unbelievable times, and the event organizers who made everything run so smoothly.

After the agony in my legs subsided and I took a much needed nap, I can say that I am experiencing a great sense of satisfaction. Not for breaking any record or changing the world in any great way, but for setting a goal, dealing with the self-doubt, and pushing through to cross the finish line. It is a metaphor for life and how we live each day. 

I've realized it is the choices make in those difficult moments that have such an impact on how things play out in life. Whether it is a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual challenge, dealing with them head on is so important. From daily choices of what we eat to dealing with major crises, each moment is an opportunity for personal growth and positive change. We need to deal with things in each moment, each step, each thought. In that, we have the power to change our world and the world around us.

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"Life is not about finding yourself.
It is about creating yourself."

–George Bernard Shaw
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My favorite quote above is an eternal source of reflection and inspiration for me. Today, I created a stronger person. I reinforced that fact that I have the power to set a goal, question myself, experience difficult emotions, move forward through the unknown, and seize the opportunities that such challenges provide me. It has inspired me to reflect on the other decisions, events, and relationships in my life and ask the question, "Who do I want to be today?" 

Who are you creating today?

12 comments:

  1. Ooh, Goosebumps! Love that quote!

    Congratulations!!!

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  2. What a great accomplishment and you should be very proud of yourself. Congrats!
    xo, Sherry

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  3. Well congratulations. That is super and you should feel proud. That is quite an accomplishment!!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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  4. I love that quote! Way to go and you should be proud! I would never have been able to do that and not because of my cast! I am just not a runner. But I guess one should never say never, it is what I try and teach my kids! Anything is possible if you put your mind to it!

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  5. Way to go! You are an inspiration!

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  6. I am so proud of you and for you. You challenged yourself and won. I am in awe of your determination.
    I am still a project in process. Can't quit growing 'cause then it's over, you know?
    Debbie

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  7. That's awesome! My good ,friend Jen just ran her first half marathon recently too only in Canada it's 22km...sounds farther but its the same...way to go!!!!
    Natalie

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  8. That's a wonderful accomplishment! I think distance running is such a great metaphor for life in general, and you learn so much both by doing it yourself (Umm...and I haven't in years) and watching others do it.

    I LOVE that quote!
    I'm standing on the sidelines cheering you as you run by.

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  9. Such a wonderful post. Congrats on pushing through. I'm so inspired!

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  10. Congratulations! I learned so much too from finishing my first half in May-lessons I plan on taking through life. I've been surprised at how many life lessons running brings! Enjoy your recovery, and no doubt some downtime from all the training. Way to go!

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  11. Congratulations. I have come to learn that we will never be sorry for doing hard things. I think it makes us stronger and ready to face challenges in life! Good job!!!

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  12. congratulatins on finishing the race...and for accomplishing one of your goals!! I love the quote you posted below, some days I know exactly who I am to be and others....well, I am lost...but finding your way is always the best part, right? Happy summer!

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Life whispers...what is it saying today?