“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
- John J. Bingham
This quote is resonating with me today. I saw it on one of my running partner’s Facebook page this morning – the first day I’ve awoken as a Marathon Runner!
I don’t think it has fully sunk in yet… that I ran 26.2 miles yesterday. I wasn’t fast, I won’t ever qualify for Boston, and Nike will never call me for an endorsement deal; but I am officially part of a very small group of people who can say they’ve completed a full marathon.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been an emotional wreck. I would literally begin weeping if a certain song from my running playlist came on the radio, if I opened a motivational e-mail from my running coaches, or if I saw a quote – much like the one above – on Facebook.
I was convinced that I was going to be a blubbering idiot as I crossed the Finish Swine (You don’t run the Flying Pig without a little humor…) But I wasn’t. I shed not one tear yesterday – partially because I quickly realized – as I saw my daughter along Mile 25 – that I couldn’t run and well up at the same time. But as I’ve had time to reflect over the last twenty-four hours I’ve decided I didn’t get too emotional yesterday because of what the above quote says.
Running the actual marathon wasn’t the miracle. (I mean… it was only four miles more than the 22-mile training run I’d completed two weeks prior.) The miracle was the fact that I, nervously, drove myself to that very first meeting at the Running Spot in Newport, Kentucky all those months ago. It was a miracle that I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m., drug myself out of bed, and drove forty miles to run with a group of complete strangers that cold, dark January morning. It was a miracle that I didn’t throw in the towel and give up after having not one, but two ‘BAD’ runs where I thought to myself, ‘There is no way in hell I can run a marathon! I can’t even run 16 miles!’
“The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” AMEN, Mr. Bingham!
I’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of support and encouragement throughout this process, and I can’t begin to thank everyone for that. But at the end of the day, it was me, myself and I who achieved this goal. And this has gotten me thinking a lot too.
So often people approach me and say, ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ Or ‘I could never do that.’ And to those people my response is always, ‘Yes you can!’
And I’m not just talking about running marathons (lets face it…a lot of people hate to run). This whole goal setting, training and achieving process is not about the Flying Pig – it’s a metaphor for our lives.
Whatever it is that you’ve always wanted to do, that dream you’ve always felt was out of reach, that career path you felt you were too old to pursue…That, my friends, is your life! And it is out there just waiting for you to start living it, pursuing it and making it happen.
Tips for making your dreams a reality
1) Become Best Friends with Failure
When I was in elementary school, several friends and I auditioned for a production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I got up on that stage and belted out my best Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I was confident. I had fun. I didn’t get the part.
The real kicker of it was three of my friends were in the production. I was devastated! Our class took a field trip to see the play, and as most people smiled I sunk down in my seat with defeat.
I would say I was acting very child-like…but I was a child, so I had every right to pout. What I didn’t have every right to do was carry this feeling of defeat into adulthood.
For the longest time I was too scared to try new things because of the feeling of rejection I remembered from all those years ago.
You know what I finally realized though? Every actor and actress looses roles – even Tom Hanks and Gwyneth Paltrow. And you know why? Here’s the best way I can describe it: Take Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Anniston. Two insanely gorgeous, successful, philanthropic women (who both happen to have Brad Pitt on their resumes.) Now try to picture Angelina Jolie as Rachel on Friends and try to imagine Jennifer Anniston as Laura Croft Tomb Raider. Eww!!!! It doesn’t work!
We’re not all meant to play every role & life has a funny way of knowing which roles are meant for us. I’ve found if we step out of the way and let life lead, it’s amazing how we end up where we’re suppose to be. But we’ll NEVER know which parts were meant for us if we don’t audition.
So get out there and sing your little heart out!
2) Skip the Excuses
Nothing infuriates me more than hearing someone spout off a laundry list of reasons why they can’t do something. I don’t care what it is – from running a marathon to going back to school…when someone says, ‘Oh, I just could never (fill in the blank)! I just haven’t got the time,’ that is code for ‘I just don’t want to,’ ‘I’m too scared of failure,’ ‘I might not be any good at it.’
I really wish people would just be honest with themselves. We are the BEST at wasting our time! I’m right up there at the top of the time-waster list! I have five kids, a business, just ran a marathon… yet somehow I still manage to never miss an episode of Project Runway, Nurse Jackie, Scandal, or Mad Men… And I could tell you what approximately fifty of my closest ‘friends’ are up to at this very moment courtesy of Facebook.
I love television and social media! And there’s nothing wrong with that. But I know I have to prioritize my time, so if there’s something I really want to do or accomplish, that would be the first place I would look to free up some time during my day.
Instead of saying, ‘I don’t have time,’ I try saying ‘It just really isn’t going to fit into my priorities right now, because I’d rather be getting a pedicure or watching Teen Mom.’ That really helps me remember how precious my time is, and that I only have one life! So I’d much rather spend it starting a garden with my family, training to run a marathon, or re-writing that book I have half-written in my desk drawer.
3) It’s NEVER TOO LATE
Today on Facebook I saw a post from a mother of two. She was encouraging the young generation to pursue their dreams while they’re still young because she so wishes she’d done things differently.
Of course, young people should go out and pursue their dreams. But so should she!!!! Who said that once we have children and turn thirty that our lives, our dreams cease to exist? NOBODY BUT OURSELVES!!!!
If you’re unhappy with where you are, where your life is taking you, what job you are in – you have but one place to look for change and that is inward. (For me, looking inward means having a one-on-one conversation with God about what we’re going to do to change ‘our’ situation. Because for me; God and I are in everything together.) But even if you don’t believe in God, I still encourage you to look inward and ask yourself, ‘What are we – meaning me, myself and I – going to do to change this?’
I ran my first half marathon in June 2010. Shortly thereafter I became pregnant with my twins. And the most athletic thing I accomplished between October 2010 and August 2012 was pulling my groin during a two-mile jog. I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to do yoga, sit Indian-style on the floor with my girls, or run again. But after six weeks of rest and physical therapy, I signed-up for my second half marathon, and I crossed the finish line in Disney World last November.
I am proud to say that – after almost two years of a sedentary lifestyle – in the last six months I have completed two 5k races, two 10 k races, two half marathons and a full marathon (one 5k, one half marathon and the full marathon all being in ONE WEEK!)
But as proud of myself as I am about the races – and believe me, I am proud – I am more proud that I had the determination, dedication and drive to stick with it during all those months of training when it would have been so easy to give-up.
I first set the goal of running a full marathon in January of 2006. It took me more than seven years to accomplish this goal. I had pregnancies and injuries and roadblocks along the way. But those were just life’s way of telling me, ‘It’s not yet time…Someday…’ I never lost sight of my goal. I never gave up.
JUST NEVER GIVE UP ON YOURSELF!