I can remember distinctly the day I first decided to complete a race on my own. One that wasn’t a fundraiser for school or part of my track or rugby team’s training. Simply a race that I was going to train for and run because I wanted to see if I could.
I was a senior in college and we were in Florida visiting my grandparents during Christmas break. I had just come back from a run and was stretching. The Hawaii Ironman Championship was on NBC. As I watched the coverage, I saw a 68 year old man cross the finish line.
I remember being in awe of his achievement. He had just finished a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run. He crossed the line in close to last place, but you would have thought he was coming in first by his reaction and the cheers of the crowd.
At that moment I knew I would try that some day. After all, if he could do it, so could I.
I remember declaring to my family my goal. They chuckled, laughed and said “Jocelyn, you’ve never even run a marathon.”
And so that’s what I did! I set my sights on breaking down the Hawaii Ironman into blocks.
Since I was already “a runner”, I decided then and there to start training for a marathon. And not just any marathon, but the Boston Marathon. Little did I know at the time that you actually had to QUALIFY to run Boston. That was a shock to the system to find that out. But I found a qualifying race that was nearby, the Long Branch NJ Marathon and got to training.
I wasn’t sure where to start, but a marathon was a road race, so I just started running. With time I drew up a plan on how I would increase my running distance and started reading all I could on training for a marathon.
I never really stopped to think about what I would learn from racing, or even to contemplate what I was doing. I just went for it. I took a risk, had faith in my abilities and I guess, prayed it would all work out. Its amazing the things that can happen when you throw caution to the wind and just go for it!
Along the way, I would learn what I needed….strength training to get a stronger core and legs to carry me through all the miles, stretching to cool-down and prevent injuries, hill work, speed work and a plan to avoid over-training.
Racing has taught me to listen to my body. That if something hurts I need to fix it and not run through it or bigger problems will arise. Something that is equally as important with other areas of my life and has taught me to be more honest and open. Hiding or ignoring things never fixes the problem, be it racing or relationships.
I’ve learned more about who I am and what I’m capable of doing. That I’m strong (anyone who commits to hours, days and months of training has a personal strength that can’t be matched), courageous (I’m never quite sure how I’ll get the training done or what to do….I just go for it), happy (there is peace to be found in the solitude of a run and your surroundings) and stubborn (after all, its easy to give up on something, much harder to see it through when you’re not certain of the ending).
The hours of training and commitment to reaching the finish line, means saying no to other things for a while. Further developing my sense of what I value and what I don’t. For that which we value, we always make time for and that hard work can pay off personally and professionally.
That sometimes I learn more from my training, the journey, than the race itself.
That I like the quiet, time to think and be by myself. That time spent running helps me to think through what I’ve got going on in my life. To put my problems into perspective and see solutions I may not have seen before. It helps me to hear others words and really listen to them and what they’re trying to say, even though they’re not on the run with me. I helps me gain direction on what I really want. All that time running, calms my mind and soul. Its my coffee to start my day or wine to end it. (Though don’t ask me to give up either!) Some of my best ideas have come while running.
I’ve made incredible friends while running and learned that a perfect stranger can be the best companion when mile 18 of a marathon hits and you’re not sure how you’ll make it through the next 8.2 miles. Our support system is not always the one we thought it would be, but is always the one we need most at that time.
Running and racing, as I look back, have been a great reflection of my life.
They’ve helped me heal sorrows. (I went for a run the day I found out my grandfather had passed and cried into the wind to find solace. As my heart ached, so too did my body.)
They’ve rejoiced in my greatest joys. (I ran on the morning of my wedding. Sharing my dreams of the marriage I imagined to the trees and leaving my single days behind with each foot step as I ran forward.)
If you ask a runner why they run, why they race, you’ll see a smile move across their lips. Its not that the runs are always easy or that the racing isn’t hard, its that you learn so much about yourself in the process, and THAT’S hard to let go of once you get started.
I ran my first marathon, 16 months after I set that first goal. I didn’t qualify for Boston that year. In fact, it would take me running the Long Branch Marathon 4 times before I’d qualify for Boston. But each of those marathons, those hours and months spent training taught me so much, that even after I had run Boston and crossed the finish line into the arms of my family and fiancé, I was already planning on my next race and next milestone, till I reach the Hawaii Ironman.
Now let me hear from you……what have your learned about yourself from running, racing or training for a race? Comment below….you know I always respond to each one!
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To purchase your plan, click here: 5K Training Plan.
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