When I became pregnant with my first son 8 years ago, I was in the middle of training to run a full marathon. With mom-life kicking in and then the arrival of one more baby, I had not run or trained for years. So coming back into the running lifestyle has been an interesting experience for me. Here’s one of the most poignant moments.
I started training by running for 30 minutes on the treadmill. Just getting my body back into the habit of running. Naturally, I did not start off running the whole 30 minutes, I would walk some of the time. Within a couple of weeks, I was able to run the whole distance and even increased it to 45 minutes. So, with the snow from the last storm melting away, I figured it was time to try for a run in the park. The Prospect Park loop is 3.35 miles long, which is about the distance I run on the treadmill, so this should be good, I thought.
Within the first 5 minutes, I was looking longingly back at the park exit that led to where my car was parked. I felt the cold air burning my lungs, and the lady in front of me that I thought I could pace myself by, was suddenly far ahead of me.
“This is going to be impossible” I thought.
But then I reminded myself of “the zone” that runners reach after a while and I told myself I just needed to push myself long enough to get to “the zone”; after that, I wouldn’t feel a thing. So on I went.
Any runner knows that running outside is a lot more work than running on the treadmill. But it’s also so much more fun and more fulfilling. You get to enjoy the scenery, the other runners, the fresh air…it’s awesome, I love it!
BUT!!!!….at about half the distance, approaching yet another incline, I did not hit “the zone”…I hit a MELT DOWN!!
I was looking at the upcoming hill (not that steep I might add) and someone much older than me in an old NYC Marathon T-shirt came running by me effortlessly. She ran up the hill and disappeared from sight in minutes, while I was left puffing and panting heavily, forcing my way up the hill, and it hit me…
“What the Hell are you thinking signing up for a Half Marathon???” “Who do you think you are??” “You have not run consistently since you were pregnant with your seven year old son!…and you are a lot heavier than you were back then…You really think you can just come up here and run a half marathon like it’s nothing??” “Like you deserve it???” “Like you could succeed at this???” “Or at anything for that matter!” “Look at you, fat and slobby dragging yourself up here…girl, who are you kidding???” “You are a loser!!” “You know you are a loser…look at you, look at your life…what have you done???” “when have you ever succeeded?” “You think now will be any different??” “and of all things to try to succeed at, you pick a half marathon???” “HA! You suck!!!”
I am not lying to you…these were my exact thoughts! And with each thought, my steps grew shorter and heavier, till I was almost at a standstill. I looked around and there was no one is sight. Every runner, even the slow ones, had passed me, and the cyclers were long gone. I was alone. Tears exploded from my eyes.
I wanted to stop moving, but I couldn’t because no matter what, I needed to complete the loop in order to get back to my car. So I just kept walking. My tears freezing on my face as they fell. I didn’t even bother wiping them off.
I never felt more like a failure. I wanted to die.
And then out of my deep and desperate breaths came my coach – ME!
And she kicked my butt. “Girl! You better get moving and get to that finish line! What are you here sobbing like a baby for? You are wasting precious time! All this time crying here, you could have gotten three quarters of the way by now! How the hell are you gonna say you HAVE completed something if you are not going to keep going and complete it? Just keep going and do it! See how much of a loser you’ll feel like when you have actually stuck with it and done it.
What’d you wanna die for now? So that everyone will come and look at you and say…oh poor loser, she tried and she died! That’s the story you want your children to hear? Get up and GO!!! Time enough for death. Now is for living. Living is doing! Challenging yourself! Leaving your comfort zone and experiencing ALL that life has to give. And loving it!! and loving you loving it!!
And right there I knew it….It wasn’t just about not ‘achieving’…and not ‘believing in myself’….the root of it was not LOVING myself.
Coach-ME responded “well, don’t you think it’s about time?” “Finish it, do it, no matter what, no matter how hard..do it! And then let your inner devil try to tell you that you CAN’T!…You will know for a FACT…that the devil is a liar…you will have evidence of it. Go! Finish the race! Nobody cares if they are taking down the finish line by the time you get to it. This is for YOU! And YOU would have completed the race. YOU would have WON!
So, you see that next traffic light up there? When you get to it, I want you to pick up the pace again and run to the next one. And then slow down again and walk to the next light IF you feel you need to…otherwise, just keep on running. You CAN do this and you WILL do it!
“Ok!” I nodded in response and I dragged myself up to the light, took a deep breath and started running down hill…it was a very short break before I was faced with the next incline, but I didn’t stop, I was slow, but I kept on running. I caught up with some other runners and strollers and the day just seemed to open up. Round the next turn, over a little bridge and Lo and Behold…the end!
I had made it!!!
I cried and gave thanks as I came to a stop and leaned on a wall for support.
I had met an angel on this run and I knew it!
Just like in Genesis, when Jacob fought with an angel all night long and demanded a blessing. I had fought through and I received my blessing…I found self love! self worth! self belief!
It might just be the beginning of the journey, but at least I am on the journey.
I AM going to run this race!
It’s only 13.1 miles and it’s going to change my life forever!