I have been training for the Horse Capital Marathon for 18 weeks now. As I think back over that time I realize how fortunate I am to be part of Run Richmond. Without this group there is no way I would have got up every Saturday morning to do my runs. Life has gotten so busy over the last few months that I can’t believe I managed to pull this off. Weekday training runs are what suffered the most, and that isn’t surprising because those are the runs that I had to find a way to get done on my own.
My time wasn’t what I had been hoping for, but I am OK with that. I had started out thinking I wanted to be around 4 hours. Half way through the training I realized that didn’t look realistic and changed it to 4:30. I felt that was realistic, but would still take some work. I told myself thought that if nothing else I better beat 5 hours. I was doing great up to mile 16 each mile was around 9:30 and I was on pace to be less than 4:30. Then it hit me. My legs decided they didn’t like this plan and I started listening. My times went from 9:30s to 12s to 13 eventual to mile 21 at 15:08. At that point I realized that not only was 4:30 not going to happen 5 hours wasn’t looking good.
I started trying to get myself going again and slowly brought my time back down to 12:02 for mile 26 and 9:34 for the last 2 tenths of the race. I consider this my victory. Somewhere around mile 21 I think there was a sign that said “When your legs are done run with your heart!” That is incredible important. That is what I feel like I have learned from this entire experience. My legs where done at mile 16 and then at mile 21 my times started improving. They had gotten slower every mile from 15-21. Then faster every mile from 23 through the end of the race.
My legs hadn’t gotten better. I was now relying on something different to get me moving. I reached a point where my determination was greater than my pain. I couldn’t get back to the times I was running early in the race, but I didn’t need to. I just needed to prove that I could get myself going again.
Lots of times in life we hit a point that seems like it just doesn’t make sense to push anymore. Everything or everyone seems to be pushing back harder and our efforts seem pointless. Maybe that’s true, maybe you can’t make the kind of progress you want, but you can keep pushing. Use your heart instead of your physical abilities. Find a way to keep pushing in some direction other than backwards. Breakthrough will happen. Maybe not soon and possibly not the breakthrough you expected, but it will happen. I managed to finish the marathon in 4:48 minutes. 18 minutes more than the 4:30 I hoped for, but faster than the 5 hours I set as my must beat time.
I was a below average marathon runner on Saturday, but that is OK. According to the statistics I found 0.5% of the population has completed a marathon. So I finished before at least 99.5% of the U.S. population and that is pretty good. I am satisfied with that. I know now that when life comes at me hard I can dig down a little deeper in my heart and fight back. I look forward to my next challenge. I hope to learn a new lesson from that, but I will also look back at this “disappointing” race time as a huge success in my life.