My motto this year in running: Adjust and lean in.
It’s perfect. It’s the right balance between go-with-the-flow and go-big-or-go-home. No matter how long I train for a run, I can never fully prepare myself for all of the various things that could go wrong. I was so amped for Sunday’s run, and I was so overly confident that I’d already put in all of the preparation I needed to for the last 10 months that I was in the clear the night before. So you know, I ate a whole ton of food because obviously 26.2 miles requires a lot of energy.
I’m an idiot. I know very well that not all energy is created equal, and too much of a good thing is nooooo longer good. I ate too much fatty food and it sat in my stomach like a rock all night and all morning. The next morning, my body was still too busy digesting this massive amount of food to think about the running that I had planned for it.
At mile 10, I was hurting. My stomach hurt so badly, and every time I had to stop at the port-o-potties, another 10-15 minutes would pass me by. Every time I saw another pace leader pass me by, my heart would sink a little bit.
The marathon is so damn long. There are so many emotions that happen between the start and finish line, that of course some are negative. Between mile 9 and 10 I saw a man that had collapsed, unmoving in the street, paramedics at his side, working on his chest. I heard more than one runner around me wonder aloud if the man had passed away. The man next to me started praying loudly for the man’s life and full recovery. I was really shaken, and it wasn’t a situation that I would have ever been able to prepare for. At mile 14, when my body was in full revolt against me, I wondered if it would really be so bad to get a DNF (did not finish) today? I could find another marathon to run in a few weeks and try again.
There were moments that I had to remind myself, you are so lucky to be here. Yes, your stomach hurts, and true, this is not how you hoped things were going to go today, but you have an able body. Even if it takes a long time, if you want it, you can make it to that finish line today. I had to remind myself, you are so lucky to be here, and to have people that care about you helping you finish – be it a friend to get you through the final six miles, or the family members standing at the finish line cheering, a sight that has probably gifted me a tearful finisher photo (by probably, I mean definitely. I’m a very emotional person with a very low tear threshold, okay???).
So I decided that I was not giving in to the negative thoughts, I decided to give in to the gratitude. I adjusted my expectations. Even though I should have run a time more than 30 minutes faster than I ended with, I accepted the fact that I was out here for the love of it. I was here to celebrate. It was tempting to hate every mile and suffer through the rest of the run, but I battled it out in my mind, and the gratitude won. So I adjusted my expectations, and I leaned in.
I finished with a terrible clock time, and a wonderful experience. Six weeks ago, after a particularly slow and grueling 30k , I said out loud to my mom, “What is the point of this? I am never going to win a marathon, and I’ve already checked it from my bucket list. Why don’t I just stick with half marathons and keep running for fitness but just stop putting myself through this.”
Well, this is the point. Life is going to throw obstacles at you, some that are uncontrollable, and some that are self-induced. But either way, we are lucky to be here. The best we can do is adjust, and lean in.