In June I ran my first marathon. It was, without a doubt, one of the most amazing experiences of my life. What I learned about myself on that day is absolutely priceless. This is what I learned:
Pain can be a beautiful thing: Three weeks prior to the marathon a back injury from a decade ago came back and with a vengeance. I had the goal of running a marathon for two years now, had trained for four months and was determined to do this thing. From the moment I crossed the starting line to the moment I crossed the finish line, I experienced more pain than I ever have in my life. However, during the entire span of the race, I felt stronger and more present than ever. There is something extremely powerful about pushing through that kind of pain. Mind over matter had never been truer. It took me about the first mile to decide that I was strong enough to deal with that level of pain and I would cross the finish line.
You really can accomplish anything you set your mind to: In 2009 I was putting on weight at a fast pace and decided to start running again after a 10 year hiatus. I couldn’t even run a mile and the idea of running at all at 8,000 feet above sea level was daunting to me. I have several friends that have completed marathons and have always had so much admiration for them because the idea of running a marathon sounded absolutely impossible to me. After a year I worked up to regularly running 3-5 miles a few days a week and slowly started to feel like a marathon MIGHT be within my reach. The next year I ran two half marathons and knew that a marathon was absolutely possible. To go from impossible, to possible, to I did it, is a feeling that I cannot find words for.
I don’t need to be skinny to love my body: The definition of beauty in our society is so incredibly skewed. I know I speak for many women when I say, I’ve always felt that I needed to be stick-figure thin to love my body. I was super thin in high school and still thought I was fat and have only gained weight since. Every few years I would work out like crazy for a few months, lose some weight, only to put it right back on and ultimately be continually unhappy with the way I looked. Since running a marathon, my perception of my body has changed and I could not be more grateful. I look at myself in the mirror or in photos now and I think how I am an athlete, I have a body strong enough to run 26.2 miles and that makes me proud.
If there is anything you have ever wanted to do, dreamed of, but thought too difficult, too time consuming or even impossible, make the decision to just do it. I’m telling you, it will change your life.