Photo by The Tennessean. More photos here.
Well, we did it. We finished the St. Jude’s Rock ‘n Roll Music City half Marathon in three hours, five minutes, and fifty-eight seconds.
My goal going into the marathon was simply to finish – for myself, and also to honor the Boston marathoners. I made a commitment to Chris that I would do it, so my plan was nothing more than just to hammer it out and get it done.
I learned a lot from the experience. I thought I’d share my thoughts here while the experience is still fresh in my mind.
First, when you’re tackling something big and unknown, once you’ve started, identify small, visible, achievable goals. Chris and I counted light posts. It might not have been the best training technique, but it helped us to have a visible, attainable goal.
Second, root out blind spots. I went into the race with very little pro knowledge. I didn’t know the course, I didn’t read up on hydration, I didn’t even read up on parking and transit. I was super intimidated about the race, and I didn’t want to psyche myself out, so I literally tuned Chris out when he tried to talk to me about the course. I didn’t want to visualize the distance because I already knew it was long. Adding concrete details only made it seem longer.
The bad news is that was self-deception on my part, though. The more you know, the better equipped you are to handle challenges when they come up. Even if you’re not sure what to do with the information right now, it will be there when you need it later.
Third, run with a partner. Running with Chris made the task so much easier. I wasn’t in it alone; I had someone I could rely on. When we needed to walk, we held hands. When Chris’s IT band flared up, he gripped my shoulder. We counted the light-posts together. We built each other up.
And fourth, just keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, and just keep moving. Don’t let your muscles freeze up. If you keep moving, you’ll find the strength to push through.
The race really enforced my motto, “Perseverance is the capacity to finish well.”
It was pouring rain and freezing cold during our entire race, but I couldn’t let my mind dwell on those external things. I couldn’t allow myself to focus on the pain in my joints or the giant tear in my poncho and my soaking wet clothes. I didn’t visualize the blisters on my heels from running in sopping wet socks and shoes. Instead, I focused on counting light posts and hanging in there with Chris.
And here we are. We made it.