My apologies to my FMF friends. I only had four lessons typed up at the end of my five minutes, but I kept on writing.
I won’t deny that I like unusual challenges and have a quirky sense of humor. So you won’t wonder at one of my choices for ‘fifty fun things to do in my fiftieth year’—run a marathon. I expect the majority of the population wouldn’t classify running for 26.2 miles as ‘fun.’ After completing my first marathon on June 4, I don’t know if I’ll ever run another one, but I DID have fun!
1. You don’t have to actually run 26.2 miles in order to be ‘ready’ to run that far. My longest training run was 21 miles—and my running expert friends assured me that this would suffice. They warned me about over training, in fact. Life Lesson: Difficult tasks require preparation, but don’t overthink or over train.
2. Train for a purpose. I decided to run my first marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training and raise money for blood cancer research. Thank you to everyone who contributed! I didn’t expect to have TNT coaches out on the course at the base of every hill ready to pace me up the hill, cheer me on, and offer me companionship. Life Lesson: Doing things for a greater cause has unexpected benefits. Go, Team!
3. Don’t rely on someone else’s goo. I ate a healthy serving of yogurt and had some energy goo before the race started. The two packets I carried with me weren’t enough. The stuff they offered along the route tasted like Skittles. I hate Skittles. Life Lesson: Keep properly fueled—don’t rely on other people to energize you (and I speak of more than just goo here).
4. I didn’t train alone. Ok, so I actually did all those training runs alone (except for the two TNT training runs I did). But Pedro had to put up with me training for long hours and opting out of radical mountain bike rides in the weeks before the race. I might have had to cut down on the cleaning the bathrooms, too. Life Lesson: We never train alone—don’t forget to thank the ones who support you.
5. Enjoy the race. I can’t speak highly enough of the people who show up to cheer for us crazy runners! You make our effort fun. The costumes, the music (I ran the San Diego Rock-n-Roll Marathon), the quirky signs, the cheerleaders—all of it made me feel like a winner. Even if I came in four-thousandth and not first (not that I expected to come in first!). Life Lesson: What can I do to cheer other people on during their hard times?
6. Say ‘thank you’ often and give high fives. I made a point to thank everyone who cheered for me (and I only knew two people on the course—Pedro and my TNT coach). I made a point to give a high fives to all the little kids who stood next to the course with their hands out—their grins made my day. Life Lesson: Thanking other people made ME feel better.Thanking other people makes ME feel better #marathonlessons Click To Tweet
7. Don’t get discouraged by other people’s progress. I started the race 35 minutes after the elite runners crossed the starting line. By the time I reached mile 6, the leaders in the half-marathon race were flashing by headed towards the finish line. Their progress couldn’t suck my joy, though, because I had joined to finish—I didn’t expect to win. My marathon day belonged to me. Life Lesson: Don’t get distracted or discouraged by other people’s progress.
8. Expect to get emotional. I choked up and had a difficult time breathing when I ran through the section of the race dedicated to the military heroes who gave their lives so that I can enjoy freedom. An organization had photos on either side of the course along a half-mile stretch. At the end, veterans held a tunnel of flags that stretched an additional block. Life Lesson: Never forget the sacrifices other families have made for your freedom.
9. Walking doesn’t mean you didn’t run a marathon. In fact, I walked through all the water stations. I walked up the two long hills. Believe it or not, I had to walk down the last big hill. But I still ran a marathon. Next time (wait, did I just type ‘NEXT TIME?’ I’ll know what to expect and pace myself a little different. Life Lesson: Don’t feel ashamed to pace yourself and use different speeds to accomplish your goals.
10. I liked the drag queens more than the ‘Christians.’ Don’t get me wrong. I AM a Christian, but the two people with “Jesus Saves You From Hell” signs yelling, “God gave you the ability to run today, are you going to hell?” didn’t do much for me. I don’t feel as if they represented the God of love that I serve. The drag queens, on the other hand, made me laugh and feel accepted—even if I’m NOT one of them. Life Lesson: Make sure you let the Holy Spirit do the convicting and focus on making others feel loved and accepted.Let the Holy Spirit do the convicting. Our job is to love and accept. Click To Tweet