It has taken me 5 days to write this – and more than 5 attempts. I really thought it would be much easier than this.
Last Sunday, I finished the Space Coast Marathon. It was even more special because Beth surprised me and did the run with me. We had an exceptional cheering section of Bill on site; Mom and Walt from afar.
Briefly, it was a beautiful course along the Indian River in Cocoa Village. The first half was cool with an occasional light breeze and fog that settled in right after sunrise. (The run started an hour before sunrise). The second half was considerably warmer with Florida sunshine.
The whole experience was much different from the first time I attempted a marathon – and I am full of gratitude. I am still trying to take it all in; but have found so many Grace Lessons already.
- First – finishing those 26.2 miles was definitely by the grace of God.
- Your mind/mental attitude can take your body places you never thought possible – even without formal and consistent training.
- Believing in yourself – and having others that believe in you – sometimes more than you believe in yourself – is really important. Cultivate belief in yourself. It helps to back it up with action.
- Beth – gave up a weekend (these are really precious for her because she rarely has a free one – and it’s the only time she can spend with her “girls”); and put herself through a marathon just for me. That counts for Christmas presents for the next 10 years!
- Bill – our on-site cheerleader, go-fer, chauffeur, and fresh legs. It’s hard to hang around and kill time, and watch on the sidelines while someone else chases a dream. Knowing he was waiting at the finish was a driving force. I want to be better for him because he is my better half.
- Walt and Mom – cheering from afar – it truly is possible to feel the prayers of others. We also had our church in Michigan praying for us – again, feeling the results of those prayers.
- Even in the midst of 7000 new runner friends, and with Beth beside me – a marathon is an intensely personal experience. You get to spend a lot of time in your head – kind of like a captive audience.
- Choices – you realize just how many choices you have. Quit or go on? Walk or run? Smile or grumble? Stress about the remaining distance or focus on the next step? Meet new friends or develop tunnel vision? Hit the wall or pass right through? And for laughs – water or Gatorade? Pee at this mile, or wait for the next? Sports beans or gels?
- Competition – you really are only competing against yourself. The self that says things like “you can’t do this”, “you’re not an athlete”, “you’re not strong enough”, “you haven’t trained enough”, “why bother – everyone else is faster”, “you’re getting tired – it’s okay to stop”. That self gets louder and more obnoxious with each mile. The other self – the quiet and determined one – she won this time. Her victory chant was “I AM – I am enough – strong enough, fast enough, persistent enough. I WILL finish”.
- Side Effects – There seem to be several. The smile – just keeps appearing. Appreciation and gratitude for my body – it CAN do things I never thought possible. Peace – a deep sense of peace, and the feeling that I no longer need to prove that I am good enough. (More about this another time.) Gratitude – for the people in my life that are there without question, that believe in me when I have trouble doing that, and that love without condition.
- Challenging yourself is good. I challenge you to choose a goal – and if you can – make it a physical goal. Break it down into little bites and before long, you will have eaten the whole elephant. We met a 72-year old lady that was doing her first marathon and we met Harry – who is 87, working on marathon #312. He hadn’t been running for the past 7 months because of an ankle injury and just thought he would try and have fun with this one.
- Take it at your own pace. I wasn’t fast, but it was my race. (Beth was beyond gracious and slowed to my pace.) We got to see dolphins play in the river, lovely flowers, fantasize about some of the homes, laugh and giggle so hard we were snorting Gatorade, and talk to people – participants and volunteers for 26.2 miles.
- Recognize just how blessed you are, and how rich your life is.