Looking Up

When I ran my first marathon in 2015 and finished in five hours and two minutes, I immediately thought to myself, I wish I was looking up to see the time before I hit the finish line because I would have loved to have a four in front. Seeing the five, I told myself I would have pushed my body harder to step over the finish line faster. My body was fatigued to the point where I wanted to lie down on the sizzling pavement the moment I crossed over the finish line and at the same time already fascinated by the thought of what more my body could achieve if I put my mind to it. Am I crazy to do this again?

I love that running puts me in a continuous improvement mindset. I compete with myself. I took what I learned in training for the Santa Clarita marathon and decided invest in some books, read countless running articles and blogs. It gave me a focus for my training knowing I wanted to get faster. I felt optimistic after my research. I could finish my second marathon in four hours and thirty minutes by adding speed work and spin classes for cross training. Heck, if I can lose more than sixty pounds in my forties, I can do THIS! I embarked on a journey to my second marathon filled with optimism and enthusiasm. Running with friends is a gift and it keeps me sane and while my focus was on improving my time at my second marathon in Ventura on September 11, 2016, I was enjoying every moment and just grateful to be able to run long distances. I am a badass, I can do this.

I was bold enough to believe I had a shot at achieving my goal of four hours and thirty minutes. I’d be lying if I didn’t confess I was concerned that I would miss my goal and feel like never running another marathon. I wasn’t confident enough to broadcast my goal to many people, I quietly shared it with a few trusted friends and family members. I felt vulnerable because I knew deep down that there was a very good chance that I wouldn’t hit the mark and that wouldn’t be very inspiring. Could I hold my head up even if I failed to meet my goal or would my confidence take a deep dive down to the floor of the ocean?  

Ventura was a humbling experience. I completely underestimated how difficult it would be to shave even a modest ten minutes off my time. I felt an enormous amount of stabbing hip pain at mile 18 and decided to stop and massage out the pain. It helped a bit, but the closer I got to the finish line the harder it became to bear any weight on my hip. Just when I thought I might burst out in tears and quit in complete despair I spotted this woman floating along the pavement carrying some sort of sign. I overheard her bragging how she could run at this pace all day, which honestly was annoying as hell because I was struggling to ignore the pins and needles in my hip and just finish at this point. She made it look effortless and as I got closer I noticed her sign read 5:00. When I saw that five, I became infuriated, it made me realize I was going to have to get out in front of her to meet my goal! I wanted to quit, but I used the fear of failing to fuel my desire to beat my last time. I ignored the pain and pushed myself harder than I ever had before. It was like the second wind I needed to finish. Run now, rest later.

Damn that was hard, but I am proud I finished faster than last time and I felt so much better at the finish line than I did in Santa Clarita.  For the first time, I wanted to celebrate not sleep, that is huge progress for a newbie marathoner. However, if I am going to get to my 4:30 time I will need help, this became crystal clear to me when I got home from that race. I managed to finish in 4:53 knowing in my gut if I hadn’t seen that pacer I could have easily let myself coast over the finish line in five hours or more.

After hiring a personal trainer in 2013, I became a firm believer in asking for help. With her support, I lost over sixty pounds. The physical transformation was a catalyst for me to break out of a career rut. Next, I hired a life coach who I worked with for a year. She helped me discover a passion I had for coaching others to reach their life goals!  So of course, after I recovered from my second marathon I decided to reach out and ask for help in a Facebook running group I was a member of called Mom’s Run This Town (MRTT).

Do you believe in serendipity? What happened next was a happy coincidence. When I went into the MRTT Facebook group, I was flabbergasted when I saw pictures and posting of the exact 5:00 pacer who essentially pissed me off to the point of reaching my goal of finish a marathon in less than five hours! Would you believe it if I told her you her and I were friends on Facebook too? It’s true. Though we had never met face-to-face I had been immediately drawn to her energy and enthusiasm for running but also her willingness to share her knowledge about running.

I bet you can guess who I hired to coach me to my third marathon and best time to date?  I just finished the LA Marathon and by far it was the best marathon to day. In fact, only three days later I am already planning to run a fourth and fifth. The Boston Marathon is on my bucket list, it’s something that I have fantasized about but was too embarrassed to admit to many people. This means that I need to continue to shave off another hour (or more) off my LA time. Here is the thing, there are times of elation, so high you feel like you can do anything you put your mind to. Other times, you feel defeated.

I have yet to accomplish my goal of finishing a marathon in four hours and 30 minutes but I know that if I stick with it, continue to persevere that I will realize that dream. I keep looking up. 

~ Look up to those who have gone before me, ask for help when I need it.

~ Look up to God and ask for signs, the signs are there if I look closely.

One of the habits I learned from my running coach is to look up when I run. I used to look at my feet and that causes early onset fatigue in my neck and shoulders on long distance runs. In running and in life, looking up is always a good thing.  ~ Stay strong, believe in yourself and be willing to work hard for what you want. ~


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