Here’s the story. In 2010, I did my first marathon: the first Bull Runner Dream Marathon. Five minutes after crossing the finish line, I found myself thinking, “I want to do this again. And I want to do it better next time.”
Just Getting To The Starting Line
By November 2012 I had planned for a marathon in February 2013. After a great 2012 triathlon season, I needed a goal and a marathon seemed like it was what I needed. From then till February, I followed a training plan and made sure I didn’t miss any of the long runs. So every Saturday early morning I’d find a place to run 24, 27 or 30k. And since I didn’t have anyone to run with, I’d do it alone. If the family had weekend plans, I’d do the long run on a weekday before work and dada duties. Even with the Christmas party season in full swing, I got my long runs in before the partying began. By the end of December I was mentally fried. I could feel it in my long runs.
My body was getting stronger and recovering faster but my mind wasn’t in it. I kept on asking myself why I was doing it. In the back of my mind I was dreading the distance. There was something horrible and inevitable waiting for me: either pain or failure. And I didn’t like both of those things.
What helped me were 2 experienced marathon friends who took time to listen and basically told me to relax and enjoy the long runs. My body started taking a beating too and my chronically injured right foot really started acting up. I actually missed an early February marathon because of the injury. So by the time I got to the starting line for TBR DM 2013, it felt like I already invested so much just to get there.
Running the Marathon
42k is a long way to go. But when I think about it now, the time seemed to go by quickly. I ran the first loop (21k) conservatively and found a pace that felt like I had a little more to give. I had a plan. I didn’t doubt it. I just followed it.
The “moment” came for me at about 38k. I was tired but I was still running. I was walking more often but was still able to keep my pace when I ran. In the middle of the pain and fatigue I found myself asking, what it was all for. There I realized that I was hoping for an answer to a question in my life that I wasn’t able to put my finger on. I had hoped that I would find it training for and running a marathon. I didn’t. To have come so far for so long and to have come up with nothing made me feel so poor and so alone. So I ran. I ran with all my heart. I put it in every footstep. I felt I had nothing but I kept on going… and kept going faster until I crossed the finish line. I crossed the finish line and saw the 2 friends who helped me get to the starting line. The look they gave me made me lose it. To feel so empty and then to feel so full in matter of seconds was too much for me. Figuring Out What it Meant
It took me awhile to write my story coz I couldn’t figure out what that journey meant and how it falls into place. Now I”m getting a handle on it: I was hoping that running a marathon would change some of the challenges in my life or give me superpowers to literally run them over. It didn’t. That’s not what the marathon is meant to do. At a certain point, maybe I was literally running away from these things. What it gave me though was to see myself in a new light. When I hit the emotional wall at 38k, the question it asked me was “What are you made of?” And my answer today is: I’m made of sterner stuff. I trained alone and ran alone and despite the mental anguish, I got to the starting line. At the moment I was at my lowest, my response was to keep on going and keep on giving until I made it strong across the finish line. One reason is really a built-in stubbroness to get the job done. The other is because I’ve got a heart. And it looks like it’s quite big.
So like in the marathon, in life now, I’m just constantly moving forward. There are times that I feel alone and tired and the finish line is far away, but that is really the nature of things. The difficulties cause me less anxiety now ‘coz I know that I am made of sterner stuff and that pouring your heart into what you decide to do will always be worth it.