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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Marathon Madness

I came across this video the other day and it made me laugh so hard! It's title is: The Day after the Marathon. Those runners out there will really appreciate this:



My good friend, Camille, first introduced me to the idea of running a marathon while we were out running early one morning down the cobblestone streets in Mestre (just outside of Venice). She had run quite a few marathons before coming to Italy and assured me I could definitely do it, too. So, we decided when we were both back in the States the following year, we'd run the St. George marathon together. And, we did. And, then we did it again the next year. And... then... I got married.

I stopped running marathons for a couple of different reasons, but have always had the urge to pick it up again. The whole experience is so cleansing - physically, emotionally, and mentally. The months leading up to it require discipline in eating healthy and getting out to build up stamina and distance. And, then comes the day to run all 26.2 miles at the same time. The adrenaline is high, the excitement unmatched.

I don't know how it is for others, but I know for me there comes a point when the excitement wears off and the running is no longer about physical strength... it becomes completely mental. That's about the point when I start singing the chorus of this song (please enjoy this flashback to the retro 80s):



And, then before you know it you're coming down the last stretch... that ".2" that some people leave off when they talk about marathons, that ".2" that almost seems like ".2" more than what you can do after completing the 26. When I crossed the finish line in 2001, I was giddy with laughter. I had actually completed my first marathon and had accomplished my goal of running the entire time. Success!

2002 was a different story. I hadn't trained as hard, partly out of thinking I didn't need to since "I had already run a marathon," and partly because I had been too busy planning my wedding to run 10-15 miles a day. So, when I reached mile SEVEN I was in so much pain I told myself, "at the next mile marker, you can give up and be escorted down the rest of the way." Well, I got to mile 8 and thought, "okay, I'll just go to the next one, then I'll quit." Those thoughts literally went through my mind for the entire remaining 19 miles. My physical abilities helped me to only get through the first seven miles, after that it had to come from somewhere else. The moment I crossed the finish line, I burst into tears. Marc was waiting there for me and I collapsed into his arms with jelly-belly size tears gushing down my cheeks. The second marathon was much more emotional for me than the first.

Somehow I had finished. Somewhere deep inside I had found something to keep me moving forward. And, on that marathon course I learned a lot about the strength of the human mind and spirit. While my body was telling me, "you can't do this, you didn't train as hard as you should have, you don't have it in you to finish," my mind was telling me a different story - "don't give in yet, just go a little bit further, just one more mile." Those thoughts literally carried me to the finish line.

Sometimes life throws hard experiences our way, and sometimes in the midst of those hard things we are overwhelmed with negative thoughts that try to convince us to throw in the towel - "just give up now", "it isn't worth it", "you're not good enough", "you're not strong enough", "you'll never make it, so don't bother trying." Those are the moments we need to turn up the volume from deep within, relying on strength that surpasses all physical strength to get us through. Sometimes that is simply breaking down the challenge into more manageable pieces - just tackling it one piece at a time, or one day at a time, or even one hour at a time. And, before long, the challenge has been overcome and we have crossed the finish line.

There might be giant tears and achy muscles, but there will also be deeper joy than we would have ever imagined when we learn how strong we really are. And, the only way to really learn that is by going all the way through those hard things and then coming out on top and seeing how far we've come and how deep we had to dig to get there. And, the thing I'm learning is that the joy waiting at the finish line is always worth it. Always.

11 comments:

azluvr said...

Yet another reason you and Marc need to do The Amazing Race!! I think of you every Sunday night!

-E

Marc and Megan said...

E - You crack me up! I don't think I'll ever be able to convince Marc... maybe you and I should do it instead! :)

Heffalump said...

Thanks...that was inspirational... and of course the song was a blast from the past!

Calamity Jane said...

Wow, Megan you inspire me, not that I want to do a marathon, just that it is possible. I don't even consider it - a 5k kills me. Now for the amazing race, that seems possible.

Marc and Megan said...

Heffalump, thanks! :)

Calamity, are you kidding? You totally kicked my butt when I went running with you last year!

You wanna do a half marathon next August? Let me know if you're interested, I'll send you some info. :)

Micaela said...

I am glad for your comments on this. I am running the St. Jude 5K here in Memphis this weekend and felt a little sad that I hadn't prepared myself enough to do the 1/2. I am running well enough that I could have done the 1/2 but don't trust myself enough yet. I will be ready for the NEXT 1/2 though and then a full by late Spring. That is my goal! I guess I just wanted to tell someone that and a perfect stranger seemed, well... perfect! Thanks again!

Inkling said...

(first time commenting, found your blog through my blog friend, Kimberly who found you through Carrot Jello) This is a beautiful post. So deep, so full of exactly what I need to know right now. Thank you.

Marc and Megan said...

Inkling, thanks for posting! I'm glad you found something helpful from my random ramblings! :)

Marc and Megan said...

micaela, have a great time running this weekend! I'd love to have you come back and tell me how it went! And, I hope your 1/2 marathon goes well this spring! I'm doing a 1/2 in August. I love having something to look forward to and prepare for. Such great motivation! Thanks for leaving a comment!

Marc and Megan said...

micaela, I just realized you said you'd be doing a FULL marathon this spring. That is awesome! Which marathon are you going to do??

Mindy said...

Curses! Reading this is making me want to reconsider my withdrawl. :)