A few months ago, I attempted my first marathon of the year. From the very beginning, I felt good and strong, may be I was a bit under pressure to beat my previous time but that’s normal for any athlete. As much as I had a few pains and niggles at the beginning of the year and when I started training, they had all disappeared by the time marathon day came around. The weather was perfect, not too cold, warm enough for October to be honest, there was no wind, the sun was shining softly and I was at the right place at the start line for my number. I had done my warm up, had a good breakfast and enough fluid to keep me hydrated, in fact, I think I was over prepared.
I had covered all the bases and was as ready as you can imagine. Carly and I even took pre-race selfies, generally, I was in good spirits…..and then off we went. I took it easy from the beginning and stayed at my pace, pushing only a little bit.
Everything was going so well, I was right on track to beat my previous time, I took gels at the time they advise to take them, took enough refreshments and was coasting along easily. Then as I got to the 27K point, out of nowhere and without warning, I started feeling muscle spasms, cramps, and twitches. The first one only lasted a few seconds and I just ignored it and kept pushing. By the time I got to the 30K point, they had become more regular, I was limping at this point, I was forced to sit on the side of the road as a family that was spectating rushed to me to see if I was ok and offered me water (I think it was from their toddler’s water bottle 🙂 talk about embarrassing moments!)
I had never experienced muscle cramps, or spasms while running before so I didn’t know what to do or how to deal with it. By now, fear had come over me like a blanket, broadcasting on the screen of my mind an image of me being carried off the course in an ambulance and that’s when the actual battle started. The battle and determination that I was going to cross that finish line on my two feet, the battle to now drag my painful and nearly numb legs for an extra 12 kilometers. They seemed like the longest and hardest 12 Km I have ever run in my life because I was fighting more than one battle; mental, emotional and physical and every other way.
I watched as one by one, the pacers who were far behind me passed by, and with everyone went the dream of me getting my personal best or at least a decent time. My mind was fighting the pain to keep going, in the meantime, the cramps wouldn’t stop and with no warning whatsoever, my calfs would lose their strength, it was all like a bad daydream! Here’s me who’s done all this training and preparation and have been feeling strong, and now I’m in a situation I’ve never been in, I can’t even describe to you the pain or disappointment and the thoughts of anger and frustration that were going on in my mind! All the while I was still praying and asking God that he would help me to finish, and to still get a decent time, but I knew I needed to change my thoughts and the images that were on my mind. Instead of seeing myself in an ambulance, I started playing one of me crossing the finish line, over and over until that was all I could see in my mind’s eye.
In this life, I have found you can’t be wishy-washy about everything and expect to be a winner. Let’s face it, there are times when life will throw curve balls that you either didn’t see coming or didn’t even know could come at you. When you go through a hard time, when everything seems to oppose you, when you feel you cannot even bear one more minute, NEVER GIVE UP! Because it is the time and place that the course will divert!
- Know your why. Understanding your why is something that’s essential if you are to finish your race. This is what will keep you pushing and give you the tenacity that’s needed to hang in there.
- Understand that not every day will be easy. I think knowing and dealing with this is a sign of maturity. You cant throw a tantrum and give up just because some days are harder than others.
- Accept help. when we experience hard times, it can hurt our ego and make us feel like we don’t need help from anyone because we don’t want to look like a failure. Accepting help never makes anyone a failure, though in my case may be drinking the toddler’s water makes me just embarrassed 🙂 lol.
- Never, never, never, ever, ever, ever, ever feel pity for yourself. This one of the best advice I ever received. Joyce Meyer always says ”you cant be pitiful and powerful at the same time”. Pity does not serve any good purpose, so if you have to drag yourself and walk through that pain, even if its the smallest steps you have to take, keep going. And you know what, if it’s a situation that you have to face every day, this will be hard, but you have to keep fighting.
- Keep your hopes up. Even though the fear, pain and uncertainity, dont lose your hope, let it anchor you.
So, what happened in the end you might ask? did the ambulance come for me? NO! I crossed the finish line with my 2 legs. With a time of 4hr 10 minutes, I was 8 minutes slower than my previous finish time. By now my legs were so numb, I literally felt like I was running on sticks – Insert visual of Pinocchio :-). While I carried emotional pain and dissapointment that things hadn’t worked out as well as I had wanted, I was also super grateful, grateful that God carried me, to have kept pushing despite the pain. What seemed like a horrible race and horrible day shaped me and helped me run another marathon just 4 weeks later, and saw me get my Personal best 🙂
Some races are not whether you win, or whether you finish strong, they are about whether you finish at all. Never give up on your dreams friends, you are capable of amazing things.