- Preparation is everything. Many times we have to train for days, months, or years for an event that is over in a moment. It doesn’t seem fair to have to spend 12 weeks preparing for something that only lasts a couple of hours but I can’t imagine the results or the pain if the preparation wasn’t done.
- Pace yourself. -- If you start out too fast, you won’t be able to finish. If you start out too slow, you will be disappointed that you still have something left in the tank at the finish.
- You can’t compare yourself to others. Big and Tall, Fat and Small, one thing’s for sure, you see them all. I have to run with what I have and while I am sure that there are things that may make it easier, that doesn’t mean that I have to have them in order to finish.
- A good support system is vital. – All throughout the race Jill and Stacy would randomly appear and shout out words of encouragement. Although our moments spent together were brief, their words of encouragement provided a definite boost.
- It is better to go through life together than trying to tackle it alone. – Unfortunately, I often take Jill or others for granted. I don’t realize how nice it is to have someone there to pick me up when I am down or to give me a good pep-talk and most often I do not realize their value until they are not there when I need them.
- Preparation doesn’t always guarantee success. – Sometimes we do not get the outcomes that we desire. Someone once told me that if I prepare properly then I would not be disappointed. Not true. Sometimes you just have a bad day. Sometimes you find that your body aches in places that it hasn’t ached before, that you can’t breathe as easily as what you would like, or that it just isn’t was easy as you thought it would be. And sometimes you realize that you gave it your best and were fully prepared but things just didn’t go your way.
- Problems are often overlooked when things are going smoothly – Those first eight miles of nothing but flat pavement hide a lot of errors. When things are going well we don’t stop to consider our form, our posture, or other things that we may be doing incorrectly along the way. Instead we just keep coasting along. Many times that leads to problems later as we find that if we had paid more attention to them when things were going well, they could have been handled better in times of struggle.
- Size doesn’t matter. – Who would have thought that a 185 pound man would be termed a Clydesdale, but in the running world that is exactly what I am. Granted, being larger may limit me in certain ways or put additional stress on my body but that doesn’t keep me from finishing. I may never beat a 155 pound man and while I am sure that there are some that weigh 225 or more who I could never catch, the good news is that if you want to you can finish. It might not be pretty, but you can at least finish.
- There will be ups and downs, but it’s better if there is a break in between. – Who put the hills at the end? That was all that I was thinking at mile ten as the last four miles were up and down, up and down, up and down. How much easier would they have been if they were spread out throughout the course instead of all in one place? I don’t know but at least it would have seemed easier instead of seeming like I was always running uphill with no end in sight.
- Be proud of where you came from. All too often I look at where I am at and what I have in front of me instead of acknowledging what I have already accomplished. I am easily disappointed if things are going my way at that exact moment or if I have failed at something, but I never stop and reflect on everything that I have accomplished up to that point. Yeah, I might have a couple more hard miles to go, but look at the miles that I have already run!
- People running alongside you can get tired too. Although I have run in a handful of races I was able to experience a first in this one --- I was able to run a portion of it with my wife (who mind you had not signed up for the race). It was at mile 11 that I came staggering over yet another hill, looked up, and saw two ladies running along the route, sprinting about 150 yards in front of me. All I could see was two bundled up ladies running with backpacks and camera bags flopping behind them. As I had the luxury of coasting down the hill I realized that it was Jill and Stacy. Apparently they had misjudged how far away they were from the finish line and while Jill wanted to be there for me at the end, they just couldn’t make it. They ran but eventually I caught them and they were left to stand huffing and puffing on the side of the road, and the roles reversed as I was able to encourage them a little bit too.
- Laughter is the best medicine. Please see above. I have no doubt in my mind that my time would have been a minute or two worse if I had not seen Jill and Stacy dashing through the streets. It certainly added a spring to my step and made me forget that my body was aching.
- Trials never seem so bad at the end. Many times while we are in the middle of a battle, trial, etc. we think that there is no way out. The good news is that it is very likely that we will survive. We might not think that we will and it may feel like we can’t take another step, but somehow we fight through it and when we look back, it wasn’t nearly as bad as what we believed it was at the time.
13.1 Finish Strong – Sometimes you have to put the past behind you and finish strong. It doesn’t matter if that past spans 1 day, 10 years, or 13 miles. Move past it, stand tall, and sprint to the end.
Overall it may not have been my best race, but I enjoyed myself, had the chance to spend a great weekend with some friends, and I even learned some things along the way. And the best news of all is that I finished!
Do these guys look like they are about to run a marathon and half marathon?