On Sunday, I ran my very first half-marathon (13.1 miles) in the Columbus Half-Marathon. This was a goal/commitment I set at the beginning of the year, and was the culmination of 10 months of training. My estimated target time to finish the race was 2 hours, 15 minutes, but I finished in 2 hours, 10 minutes, which was by far the best I had ever run throughout my training.
Below are some brief reflections from my run. Perhaps it may translate some encouragement to you:
- Finish – Whatever you start, finish. No matter how hard or how long it takes, be committed to the very end. Complete your course – even if it’s just for yourself. Chances are, though, it’s probably not just for you. Others are watching and waiting to see if you’ll actually cross that finish line. Your effort and commitment will inspire faith and hope in others.
- Set a Target & Commit to Hit it – I think it’s important to set goals and strive for them. Each time you reach new heights in your life, it sets benchmarks that keep you moving forward and growing. I didn’t strive to win first place, but I did set a goal – to finish the race in 2:15. Ultimately, just finishing the half-marathon is a respectable feat, but my heart wanted to achieve something more challenging and more remarkable than that. So when I crossed that finish line and saw that I had finished in 2:10, I guess you could say I felt like a champion. My endurance was tested, my faith was challenged, yet I persevered because I had a mark to aim for. And now, of course, my desire is to get out there again, but this time break the 2 hour mark!
- Mile 8 – At mile marker 8, I hit “the wall.” Intense burning in my legs, aching knees, fatigue. My whole body started rejecting the torture I was subjecting it to. My lungs were begging me to quit. I began to feel my pace slow down, which meant that I would unlikely hit my target time. Right about then, a lot of thoughts and feelings began to swirl in my head. Mile 8, incidentally, became a defining moment for me. It was decision time – to give in or to fight? That was the question.In this moment, I learned that for me to finish the way I wanted to, it was going to require me to push past all the discomfort and to start fighting for the finish line with everything in me. Suddenly, I got my second wind and an incredible, indescribable determination came over me. I began to increase my pace dramatically. In my effort to break any negativity coursing through my mind, I started chanting to myself the words found in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “In my weakness, You are strong…. In my weakness, You are strong.”I believe between each person and greatness stands a mile 8. You either push beyond the wall or you let the wall defeat you. These moments are what define you and your future. I challenge you to persevere! Once you get past that moment, I know you will have what it takes to get to mile 9, mile 10, mile 11, and all the way to the finish line. Isaiah 40 says, “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.”
- You are capable of more than you realize – In January of this year, I stepped onto my treadmill to begin my training and completed my first mile in a whopping 16 minutes. Afterwards, I thought I was going to die! 6 months later, in a 5K race, I ran my fastest mile in 6 minutes. In January, I would have never fathomed I could run a 6 minute mile, but I did. Prior to this past Sunday, it was hard for me to fathom I could finish a half-marathon in the time that I had targeted. The truth is, however, you can do whatever you train your mind and body to do. Anything is possible. Absolutely, positively anything.
- It’s not all mind over matter – Many times I have heard that the mind is powerful enough to compensate for and overcome what we lack physically or skillfully. While I believe in this theory to a certain extent, and while I obviously employed some positive mental strategies of my own throughout the race, and while it’s true that a woman once lifted a 2,000 pound vehicle off her son who was being crushed underneath, extraordinary results like this are not generally typical. More often than not, a person is only equipped to do what they have conditioned themselves for.For example, back in January, I could have mentally willed myself to get on the treadmill and run a 6 minute mile or to run 13.1 miles in 2 hours, but my body did not have the capacity to do it. Rarely, if ever, will you outperform your capacity. If you don’t train, if you don’t consistently apply yourself, toward whatever it is, you can’t expect to produce extraordinary results. Training is your testing ground. It’s where you work out your limitations and test your capabilities. It’s where you grow your capacity to do the extraordinary. Once your training is done and it’s time to perform, you then know what your body or your skill can do. At that point, you then can employ the confidence that you are ready to do the remarkable and you are ready to be victorious!
This race and the whole experience turned out to be a big giant metaphor for me in so many ways. Everyone’s marathon is something different. For me, I just wanted to go beyond myself and test a realm that I had never experienced before. I also wanted to use this experience as an opportunity to fund raise and build awareness for Haiti’s Kids. Proudly, Team Haiti’s Kids raised $1,436 for the cause!