Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Lessons from my Marathon

Several years ago, my best friend turned to me and said.... 'I'm fat! You're fat!  We should do something about that.'  Then he proposed a competition. He would find some other 'fattys' and challenge us all to a weight loss competition.  We each put in $100 and the first one to lose 10% of their body weight, would take the prize.  There were 7 of us that each put our money in.  I didn't win the pool, but I won something better.  After years of being a 'desk potato', I discovered that I really enjoyed running.  I started with walking and decided that I could burn more calories quicker if I began to run.  Like Forest Gump, I've been running ever since.  I've run 5 half marathons (21.1kms) and decided after the last one that I wanted more of a challenge.  My only option was to run a full marathon.  I signed up for the training program and began my marathon journey in January... in the dark... and in the rain!  Over the past few months, I increased my distances, strength and general health. On May 4, I ran my first marathon.  

I arrived at Queen Elizabeth Park early and huddled with the other runners under trees and building overhangs in a vain attempt to stay warm and dry.  By the time the gun went off, 'dry' was a memory and warm was only going to happen if I kept running for the next 4 plus hours.  I learned a lot about life on Sunday morning. Here are some highlights.

1) Sharing the journey makes it easier.  I had done all of my training runs alone.  On the morning of the race, I decided to talk with people as I ran instead of listening to music.  I asked questions, I laughed at jokes.  I bantered with people.  I listened, learned and I ran!  

2) 'I get by with a little help from my friends!'  I am blessed with good friends who took time to call and wish me well in the week coming up to the race and on the night before.  It meant a lot.  One even called during the race.  (I'd only take a call from a good friend or my wife during the race...)  His call at 38kms gave me a huge boost and I ran faster from that point on.  He helped me finish well!  

3) Encouragement is powerful!  At different spots along the race, people stood along the side walk and called out the names of runners as they went by.  There's nothing like hearing your name called by a random stranger when your muscles are tired and your legs are cramping!  A 'keep it going', 'you look strong' and 'you're almost there', kept me going when I wasn't having a lot of fun!  The high fives from kids and adults alike made the journey that much easier! Takeaway #3 - 'Be an encourager!'

4) Listen to the Music!  There were great bands playing along the way. At one point, we had just climbed a long hill and turned the corner to face another.  Right on the corner a drum line was working hard and providing us with a fantastic rhythm to power us up the hill.  It made a huge difference on the final climb and it was a lot of fun to listen to.  

5) Share the love.  In the last few kms, I decided that I would do my best to help other people finish.  I cheered, encouraged, nudged and did whatever else I could to help others finish well. A positive outlook is contagious!  


Arlene said...

I loved your "lessons from the race"! I'm inspired to push myself 'out there' more. Thanks for sharing!

Sharon Gaetz said...

Wow - so inspired by you Tim! Way to go! I wish I could post this to facebook!