What is your reason?
Why would you run that far unless someone is chasing you?
Do you hear that question a lot from friends, family, co-workers? If so, join the club. Most people would not even think about attempting a half marathon let alone make the time, effort, and commitment it takes to get to the starting line. We all start off on this journey from vastly different places, with different goals, fitness levels, and reasons for going the distance. As you continue down the path of the endurance athlete, the answer to both questions above will undoubtedly change. Whatever your reason, whatever your goal, it is yours alone. It is real. It does not matter if you are running to set a world record, a personal best, to finish in front of your husband, to raise money for cancer, or to check it off the bucket list. Hold onto it and remember it come mile 11 when you know that the finish is close but it is not close enough. I have friends who coach younger athletes, high school and youth. Often they have to find ways to motivate their athletes to work harder, to push more. The one major difference in coaching adult runners is that I have never once had a tell an athlete to work harder or to just find some motivation. It’s already there and if anything we as coaches have to slow people down, teach runners how to rest. You’ve already proven that you are a champion by undertaking the training and your self-motivation is the reason that’s kept you moving forward.
Celebrating the gift
Many of you know me personally, we’ve logged more miles together on the banks of the Olentangy than we can count. Those of you that do, and those of you who read my posts, know that I’m a pretty open person. I’m a “sharer.” Maybe I share too much, but that’s what we do with all those hours on our feet. Running has taught me so much, and not just about myself as an athlete, mostly about people, life, and the sweet gift we are given. This season for me is so much different that any before it and I know that goes for hundreds of my fellow running buddies this Spring. In the past, I have run for personal best times or to qualify for a specific race or even as a stepping stone to a later race. I’ve run races to pace others and by far those have been the most fun. I’ve run for the medal, for the Boston qualifying time, for the glory in my own mind, or to prove something to myself. In the end, even the races where I’ve been running as a pacer, the races were for me. I do not believe that this is selfish. We all need the “me time “and how we choose to spend that time is our decision alone. You and I have chosen a lifestyle that moves. We journey together toward a race, but the true gift is the daily sunrise and the run that we are blessed to take each day. Some days they are blissful, others they frankly just hurt, right? But the constant is that we have the ability to go and do it, whenever and however we choose. To run is a gift and we receive it again and again every day. Our bodies and our minds grow stronger with each one and the celebration continues.
This year is different
This year is different. I have no goal time, only to run. I run for joy. I run for life. I run because others cannot. I may not run very fast, but that is not the point. I do not care what the clock says, only that it is running. My first race of this year will be in Utah, a few weeks after you all finish Cap City. I will talk to people along the course, smile at every photo op, and enjoy the movement because this year is different. I will cry I’m sure, but the tears will not linger. I will laugh though too because this is a celebration, a moving 26.2 mile tribute to life lived fully. Mine won’t be the only one, of that I’m sure. Running mile 26 I will search my memory to find that huge smile, a smile so big that it cannot fade away. There is only one reason I need, because this year is different. On May 19th I will run for my friend.
Let YOUR reason pull you through
This is by far your biggest training week. You’ll be doing your last truly long run and then the taper will begin. There will be times when you are tired or bored or just not in the mood. When those times hit, think back to the initial decision to start this journey. Whatever made you press that “register” button is still there in your mind. Let it be the strength you find when you can’t seem to summon your own. You are all amazing and truly champions for taking on this challenge. Enjoy the last big week, recall the reason you started. Run healthy and I’ll see you at the finish line on May 5th!