The Marathon Continues

Well, I did it.  One of the hardest, most painful experiences of my life. I completed a half-marathon.  I know there are a lot harder things people have to face in life, but this was big for me.  I have lots of memories, both good and bad from the experience.  My parents came to support and encourage me, which is always a plus. I feel like I’m always going to do better when I know they’re in the crowd, but in the midst of them being there, I still had to do a fair amount of mental gymnastics to get through this feat.  Here are a few of the lessons I learned that can also apply to the race of life:

  1. Sometimes being present is for your safety.  The night before my race, I had a personal inconvenience,  unrelated to the race, arise.  The situation really upset me, and I knew that dwelling on it could cause me to lose sleep and focus on the task ahead.  Normally, I am a person who likes to deal with problems head-on. I don’t seek out confrontation, but I also don’t like to give negativity a chance to fester.  However, this time, I made a decision.  I was not going to allow drama from another person to affect how I ran this race.  I prayed about it and went to sleep.  The next day, I chose to be present at my race, enjoy my family for the rest of the weekend, and deal with the drama on Monday.  That was important because had I allowed myself to dwell on that throughout the night, I could have lost sleep and been too fatigued to finish the race, or even caused bodily harm trying to run without proper rest.
  2. People are more alike than different.  This is a phenomenon that we sometimes forget about until circumstances are dire, usually tragic.  We see a country come together after a natural disaster or in times of war, but I saw it during this race as well.  When I started the race, I was surrounded by strangers. I’m not a particularly extroverted person, so I wasn’t talking to people or socializing at all.  However, at around mile nine and ten, all of the pretense and inhibitions were gone! I don’t know if it was because we were all so tired and on the brink of mental and physical exhaustion, but there were no strangers!  We were all encouraging each other, giving unknown onlookers in the crowds, high fives, and taking whatever help and support we could get from anybody.  It was actually kind of comical.  That just reminded me that at our very basic levels, we don’t care what each other’s race, gender, or cultural identity is because we’re all just trying to survive.  I wish it was like that all the time.
  3. Finally, I learned, more than ever, not to take life for granted.  Sadly, one of the race participants passed away during the race.  I didn’t find out about his death until about two days later, but learning of his passing really left an indelible mark on me.  It never crossed my mind that morning while everybody was preparing and focused on the race, that one of the runners wouldn’t make it back home.  I know life is fleeting, but that just hit too close to home.  It reminded me that I can’t take any moment for granted.  We truly can be here one minute and be gone the next.

I could go on and on, but those are just my main three takeaways from the race.  I have really grown to love long-distance running, not just because of the physical benefits, but because each run gives me new insight into life. I’ve grown both mentally and physically as a result of this COVID-19-inspired hobby.  I’m excited to see what other lessons I can learn as I continue to run these marathons, both literal and figurative.