Tuesday, June 11

No rules, just run.

Running a marathon was never on my bucket list.  I was always one of those people that said, "How can people run just to run? I would much rather run by playing tennis or soccer. Just running is so boring."

But, in the summer of 2009, Brian and I started running together. I can remember the first time we ran 4 miles, then 6 miles, then 8 miles! I realized, once you get past the initial protest of the body in those first few miles, a rhythm and stride starts to form,  and all of a sudden you're really enjoying yourself! (Most of the time).

That winter, Brian ran his first marathon in Dallas, and I convinced him to run a half with me in the spring. We did the first Dallas Rock 'n Roll half in March, and then while Brian did the Oklahoma City marathon in April, I ran another half. 

It was at that race, when the full marathoners broke away, that I wished I was going with them. I wanted to know if I could join them in the journey of completing a 26.2 mile race. 

Brian and I signed up to run the San Antonio marathon in the fall, and I trained with an online program, doing a gradual build in long runs over the weekend.  Three weeks before the race I completed a 20 mile run, and felt great, elated by the accomplishment. I was ready to take on San Antonio.

During the marathon, I really enjoyed the first half. And then, at mile 16, that infamous wall hit, and I had excruciating pain in my knees. This wasn't good... I still had 10 miles to go! At mile 22, I saw my Dad and tears streamed down my face. I wanted nothing more than to stop running. But, with Brian running by my side, and knowing family and friends had traveled far to see me finish, I pushed through the 26.2 miles.

For weeks it was hard to bend my knees and walk normally. It was over a month before I ran again and I definitely had no desire to run another marathon... ever again...

But, after watching Brian complete 7 marathons in less than 3 years, I was ready to make another attempt at my second. In looking back at San Antonio, I probably peaked at that 20 mile run and didn't have enough time to recover before I did the full course. So, for the Newport Marathon this year, I really wanted to see if I could train smarter and have a better race.

As often the case, training didn't go as planned. I started a new job, had a hectic travel schedule, and couldn't seem to find the time to train for more than 5 to 8 hours a week, and that was if I was lucky.

As the race approached, I had serious doubts if I should even run it. What if I injured myself or I just couldn't finish? The furthest I ran before the race was 11 miles. This was somewhat on purpose, as I focused on cross-training and 60 to 90 min runs, and not on completing a specific distance. But, ultimately, I hadn't been able to do as much activity as I had wanted to leading up to the race.

When we finally made it to Newport, which is a journey in itself, with my Dad, Brian and his parents, Pam and Steve, all together, a sort of calm came over me. Brian talked about his strategy to focus on being present and in the moment, not worrying too much about what the race would bring. And I realized, that whatever happened, I was going to have fun and this was going to be an experience I would never forget.

And, that's exactly what it was. While I was running, I was just running. The scenery was so spectacular, and knowing Brian was out on the same course with me, working to accomplish the goal of a lifetime - qualifying for the Boston Marathon - I experienced many moments of pure joy.

Some highlights, were giving Brian a high five as he made his way back on the out and back course. And, my Dad running with me at miles 17-19, and receiving a text during those miles that Brian had just qualified for Boston! It was such a surreal experience. Towards the end, I was hurting, but it was no where near what I had experienced in my first marathon.

I definitely surprised myself!  I realize now, that even though I wasn't able to train as much leading up to the race, I've been training and exercising regularly for 3 years! There's no reason I should've been worried.

As I reflect on the race, these wise words of spiritual leaders come to mind:

Jesus says in Luke 12:22-34: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life... Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? ... Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom."

The moral of my journey: Trust in yourself. Don't worry. And be present.

As, Buddha says: "The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly".

While running, just run!

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