Lessons Learned from Half Marathon #11

Well, it was a cold day in Houston yesterday and the marathon/half marathon was back live, in-person! I had completed my training plan and I was ready to go! Fear that the new strand of COVID would delay or change the course was worry I did not have to do. Picking up my packet on Saturday, after a very WINDY 2 mile warm up run, I even got the chance to browse all of the running gear at the expo! It had started out to be the perfect run weekend!

My daughter and I got to the start line to wait for our start…about an hour after the “elite” runners (yes, slow and steady wins the race), and I realized just how cold it was! I had a knee injury the year before and the cold air was not treating that knee kindly. But, I started out strong and found that the first 8.5 miles were PERFECT! Then it hit! My knee was not going to let me continue on the path that I had started. I knew I could walk it out, but running at the pace I was at was not going to happen.

I am a perfectionist for sure, and this was devastating. Yes, I was out there completing 13 miles while most were at home still in bed. And yes, at 50, I should feel blessed that I got the 8.5 done strong and could still finish within the time allowed for the run. But, I was looking forward to completing at my goal and, although I finished, I was about 15 minutes over my goal time. So, I did what I could do…thought about the lessons learned from this experience!

  • Lesson 1: While walking the 4 miles I needed to do to get to the finish, I reflected on why I started running these each year in the first place. I know I don’t run them to win. I run them for other, personal reasons. I run them to realize that I can set a lofty goal, train based on a rigid schedule, and complete the miles. I do them to keep myself in shape and healthy, as one doesn’t just wake up one day and go out and run 13 miles for fun…at least this ONE doesn’t. Although I didn’t run the entire thing, I completed the 13.1 miles within the allotted time!
  • Lesson 2: Like most organized runs during the pandemic, last year the run was virtual. I did it in my neighborhood, but something was missing. Yesterday I realized what it was! It was the crowd, the city! My city does an amazing job of organizing this run! My city does a fabulous job of supporting the runners by having our community out cheering us on, even when it is 35 degrees in Houston! My city makes even the slowest of runners feel like they have “won” their race when they cross that finish line! Although I didn’t run the entire thing, I felt like a winner when I crossed that finish line and I got my finishers medal because my city made me feel that way!
  • Lesson 3: Perseverance! I talk to my staff and students every day about the importance of working hard and not giving up when things are tough. I relate my motivational talks with them to the quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” I could have given up yesterday. I was upset with myself and I did not want to keep going. I wanted to throw in the towel and go to the injury station with this silly knee bothering me. But, I dug down deep and found the strength to finish. It was a good reminder that we all can do hard things…we just have to find that inner strength that says keep going, even when times are tough!

By mile 11, I thought, maybe next year I will just take a year off….and then when I crossed that finish line (yes, I did run the last half mile into the finish!), I realized that I have to do it again next year, tweak my training plan, and redeem myself with my time. I realized that this city, this run, and my own abilities will help me pick up, celebrate that I did finish yesterday’s run, and look forward to Houston Half Marathon 2023! And, I believe next year, I become a legacy runner…which means I get to use the real bathrooms while waiting at the start line!

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