Sunday’s Twin Cities Marathon has dominated my thoughts over the past few days. I want to thank all of the people who have taken time to offer words of encouragement: It’s truly meant a lot to me! People ranging from Boston Marathon participants to those who have never ran in their lives have offered their thoughts, and it has truly taken every one of them to help me put it all into perspective. Here are the points of emphasis I’m trying to take away from Sunday’s experience.
1) Running a marathon is not for the faint of heart! This ultimate endurance race remains the toughest single feat most of us will ever accomplish. There’s a reason less than 1% of people will ever attempt a marathon in their life: It’s insanely grueling and difficult, and I’ve done it FOUR TIMES!
2) At some point, every marathon boils down to simply finishing! Your training gets you most of the way, but your guts and determination are always all that’s left at the end of a race this long. I keep thinking that running a marathon will get a little easier each time, but that is never going to happen!
3) At age 48, running a marathon should be about simply finishing! Personal records are nice, and qualifying for Boston would be fantastic, but ultimately, I run for fun. Obsessing about a certain time makes running much less enjoyable for me.
4) Learn from my experience! Each of my four marathons has offered a unique set of challenges to overcome. Some of these like weather, I have little control over, but others, like nutrition and training, I can evaluate and change if needed.
5) I run for many reasons! There is physical fitness which means a strong body, especially my heart, lungs and legs. There is weight management which includes being able to eat a wide variety of foods while still maintaining a healthy body weight. How about general health like low blood pressure and cholesterol, and excellent blood glucose levels? Breaking 4 hours in a marathon doesn’t even make the top 25, and I shouldn’t forget that.
6) I motivate people to be more active! I felt a little foolish because I talked for months about breaking 4 hours, and then I didn’t even get close. I felt like I had let down all of the family and friends who had encouraged me along the way, but I was wrong. I instead heard several people tell me that by following my training, they had felt inspired to become more active themselves. What I perceived as a failure, others had viewed as an accomplishment. There are people out there running right now because of me: That makes me feel way better than any clock time ever could!