I think I can call myself a runner. Until this weekend I felt I was a novice looking into a new world… but this weekend it all changed. This past weekend I ran 13.1 miles, completing my first half marathon. Here are a few reflections 13.1 miles in the making.
1. Dream Big. 4 months ago I was a couch potato. 4 months ago I found out that my blood pressure was akin to lava about to explode out of a volcano. 4 months ago my workouts consisted of feeling sorry for the contestants on the Biggest Loser. In response to my doctor’s encouragement to either get fit or get medicated, I decided to become a runner. I convinced my wonderful wife to sign up with me to run a half marathon. Again, when I put my credit card on the dotted line I could not run 3 miles. I know today, with a commitment to work, you can go as far as you dream.
2. You never know what to expect when you start something new. The Sizzling Summer Half Marathon and I both had one thing in common — it was our first. As with any inaugural event, every step was a learning process for its organizer. All of the countless hours of time, energy, and stress placed over it were finally put into play. There were mistakes, lots of them, but at the end of the day, a race was held. As my inaugural first half, every step was a learning process for me. All of the countless hours of training were summed up in 2.5 hours. I made mistakes… failing to go to the bathroom before the race, catching myself running a 7 minute mile while I am a 11 minute miler, or even placing a Justin Bieber song on my music playlist. At the end of the day, though, I finished the race. These mistakes (by the race and by me) are opportunities to grow. When I run the Kelsey Briggs half, I will be a better runner because I learned how to run a long race this weekend.
3. Know your limitations. Running a 5k or a 10k is different from running a 13.1 mile run. With the 5k and 10k I was able to run the entire race with no walking and no water. In a 13.1 mile 90 degree run, this strategy would lead me to a quick finish in an emergency room. In this run I understood that I needed to listen to my body, drink when I needed water, and walk when I need to slow down.
4. Fellowship is found in working toward a common goal. On my run, I found myself surrounded by runners that were at the same level as I was. As we struggled, strived, and sweat, we did it together. More than once I had runners encourage me as I looked down. I saw many slow to check on runners who seemed overheated. I only knew 2 runners on the course this past weekend, but I shared a common goal in fellowship with those around me as we all were striving for 13.1 miles.
5. Some people can’t be pleased. This was an inaugural race. There were many things that will be far better next year. At the end of the day I had a good time running on a shaded course accomplishing a goal 4 months in the making. My wife and I left pleased that we had conquered this course. The evening after the race I went online to check the Facebook page of the event only to see many mean spirited complaints that took shots at the race coordinator. I knew there were mistakes, had some thoughts of what I would improve, but I never thought I would see the hate language toward a fellow human being that I saw in the wake of this race. It honestly reminded me of the people who I waited on when I worked in a restaurant who would nitpick a meal in an attempt to get it for free. I remember one person who called me an idiot because I served them a Pepsi instead of a Dr. Pepper.
Let me sum up my overall thoughts… In everything, dream big. Know when you step into any new adventure, you will make mistakes, learn, and grow. As you embark on your big dreams, don’t try to be something you’re not — be yourself, know your limitations. As you strive, look around and see who’s striving with you — that’s real fellowship. Finally, as you take big steps into big dreams, know that there are people who will never be pleased… don’t let your naysayers discourage you from your goal.