The “M” Word

DSC_0055-XL“There are a lot of crazy people here today,” I thought as I ran past the Danville mental hospital. What sane person gets up at the crack of dawn on a cold, rainy May Saturday to run thirteen miles to the middle of nowhere and back? Well, at least I was in good company, with couple hundred other runners in the 2017 River Towns Half Marathon.

The day didn’t exactly get off to a great start. First, I misplaced my Philippians 4:13 dog tag that I wear when I race. Then, when I arrived in Danville, I discovered the contact solution had drained out of my left contact as it was soaking. After trying to rehydrate the crispy disk, I decided I’d have to wear my glasses, or go as One Eyed Jack. As if that weren’t enough, I lost the cover to my earbud as I stood at the starting line! Fortunately, my friend just happened to have an extra pair of earbuds, which saved my day.

Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling very confident as I started the race. I went out much faster than I should have, causing ankle pain in the first mile. The sky was an ominous black, and the air was a little chilly, but humid. I started to question why I was doing this race in the first place–or even running at all.

A few miles in, the sun came out, my leg muscles warmed up, and my outlook brightened. I thought, “ A smooth, easy road never makes an interesting story.” Even this well-maintained rural road wasn’t the easiest to run on, given the sloping pavement. Every couple minutes, I’d have to change my position on the road to find the most even spot. Otherwise, as I learned last year, my hips would be out of whack when I reached the finish line.

Thanks to a moderate pace and frequent walk breaks, I was able to hobble over the finish line a good half hour before last year’s finish time. My third half marathon was in the books. Now what? Do I even consider the “M” word?

Thirteen (point one, to be exact) miles is a long distance. Double that, and you have the “M” word. Do I dare to even THINK about training to run 26.2 miles? If my muscles can barely do a HALF, how would I survive a FULL?

This is the mental battle I’ve been waging for the past year.

When I trained for the Danville race last year, I’ll admit I was scared, but felt pretty confident that I could at least finish. I felt the same way at my first triathlon. But as I lose weight and get stronger, my athletic performance improves. I feel like, although I never may see a podium, I am a champion because of all that I’ve conquered. So what if I try and fail? Failure is inevitable in each of our lives. What is important is that we have the courage to get off the couch, turn off the TV, and make the attempt.

This year will be the first Williamsport Marathon in October. Lord willing, (and legs willing) I will be ready!

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