Lessons from the Half-Marathon
A month ago I ran my first half-marathon.
It’s been on my list of goals for the new year… for a few years in a row. And this was the year I was finally able to tick that item off. It felt good. Checking it off my list, not the actual run.
To be honest, it was harder in some ways, and easier in others.
My running partner and I both endured some sickness just weeks before the race. So, the total mileage of 13.1 miles was nothing that either of us had come close to completing before the event.
The first 7 miles for me was not that bad. We ran through the Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks before heading out into the streets of Anaheim. I know, not a bad first event – SoCal mornings running through Disney.
We had just passed the 9th mile marker when I started I feeling it: the bricks in my legs. By this time my right foot was also hurting. Beyond the mild ache and something deeper, but I kept moving. The next 2 miles were tough, but we kept running.
Our final time was 2:34, which I consider not bad for a rookie who didn’t really adhere to a training regimen (like I had planned to).
And though my family met us on the other side of the finish line, and I had a great cheerleader beside me the whole time, and even when we hit mile 12 with only 1 more to go, it was none of these things that kept my feet moving. It was a different moment from earlier that morning:
About 5km’s into the race we were coming up a small incline where they had put up pylons dividing the track in two. A few of us were dodging around the walkers, weaving in and out of the orange cones. At the top of the hill stood a staff member waving us back onto the right side of the road with her arms while shouting, “the wheelchair racers are coming on the left side, please move to the right.”
That’s right. Paraplegic’s, in wheelchairs, were out for the race that morning.
And so with my legs burning in the last 3 miles, I remembered how lucky I was to have my lower limbs.
I smiled as we turned the corners and the spectators cheered for us loudly. I waved to the photographers at the end of the course, and threw up my hands when I crossed the finish line (high-fiving Minnie Mouse).
I was lucky to have limbs. To have breath in my lungs. To have all my faculties. To be running, not out of fear, or to escape, or towards freedom, but because it was a choice. It was for fun, for charity. Just because.
I was lucky to have family on the other side of the finish line. My husband is my gift from God. He had been my greatest cheerleader leading up to the event, but also in the past 10+ years of doing life together. My daughters, who were all smiles, were one of my reasons for running. To be an example for them. To be strong and healthy for them. They are my treasures and my joy.
I remember looking around on the walk back to our hotel and seeing sunshine, palm trees and Disney symbols everywhere: 3 things some people will never see. I remember looking down at my i-phone and reading through the many messages of encouragement from family and friends near and far – again, more reminders of how blessed I am.
Many people have asked me how it went. And almost all of them, when I finish recounting the event, ask me if I’d do another one.
My answer, is yes.
Yes I will continue to set goals that are big, and accept challenges that are risky. Because in those moments I know I will be stretched and forced to grow stronger. I will learn incredible lessons that will both make me better and teach me humility. And lastly, these moments are favorites because I always walk away with a greater sense of gratitude.
Here’s to running races, accomplishing great things, and crossing items off the bucket list!