I had the joy and privilege of competing in a half marathon this past Sunday. While not an “easy” event, it is certainly much easier to prepare and recover for than a half or full IRONMAN, and for that, I am grateful. 13.1 miles is over in the blink of the eye, and only makes me more excited to not be running a full marathon. This was the first year that Reno hosted a Boston Qualifier (BQ) marathon, and unfortunately the turnout was weak at best, and the faces of the marathoners rolling in after four hours told the entire story… that run was BRUTAL.
I’ve done my fair share of marathons, and it’s true, they suck. Your feet are torched, your knees are usually toasted, and if you’re walking well the next day you’re lucky. I prefer to save that abuse for the annual 140.6 mile shows where at least I can balance it out with swimming and biking. The amazing thing about endurance activities is that the middle and back of the pack athletes have to grind, endure, dig, dig, dig, and somehow find a way to keep pushing even in the midst of crushing energy loss, changes in temperature, and ridiculously long amounts of time on a course. The marathon champ did his 26.2 miles in 2:52. The last finisher came across the line at 5:58… that’s just a long day.
I knew someone who came in the bottom set of the finishers, not that far from the six hour cutoff, and I’m impressed they finished. I know what it takes to do the endurance events I do on a regular basis, but to suck it up and blast through a near 30 mile haul when the only thing on your mind is quitting is frankly very impressive. As an athlete, I really found my heart going out to these people only to find that quickly reversed and filled with excitement as they crossed the finish line and jumped (or slightly raised up on their sore toes) in joy and celebration with their peeps. It takes guts and courage and gives truth to the tortoise beating the hare.
There are times in life when it is appropriate to push on in order to defy the odds, and there are times when a diverging path may lead to safer waters. That decision is one that must be made only when the split path is presented before you, but the groundwork laid up until that point is what helps to establish the route to go.
I am just getting ready to wrap up my first 10 week stint of IRONMAN training with only 20 left to go. Perseverance is the primary factor in succeeding, and I have my work cut out for me. Consistently pressing onward when things get tough (or it rains, you don’t feel well, etc.) create powerful habits and the fuel to keep moving forward when that 140.6 mile finish line seems so far away. Great things are coming; we just all need to endure to get there! :-)
Perseverance: “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties”