The inaugural Chicago Women’s Half Marathon challenged its runners to ask – why will you run? I signed up for this half marathon in February and if you’ve followed my running journey, you know this was the third half marathon I signed up and paid for. I’m happy to report that it has officially become the first half marathon I’ve completed. Crossing that finish line yesterday was a highlight of my life. I said to my husband shortly after I finished, ‘That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.” Physically, mentally, and emotionally – the half marathon challenged me more than I could have imagined, more than I could have prepared for.
I admitted just five weeks ago that I had severely procrastinated on my training. The last 5 weeks thought were incredibly successful. I hit nearly every run every time and learned the importance of flexibility in my training as well. I knew going into yesterday’s race that I was well-prepared and as ready as I’d ever be to tackle 13.1 miles. But still the fear persisted. What if I failed? How would I tell all of my friends and family that I wasn’t able to make it? Sunday morning, though, I knew I had it.
I learned an incredible amount in my training, and even more in those 13.1 miles, lessons I will take with me into other parts of my life, and in my business as well. I hope you will gain some knowledge from my lessons as well:
- Perfect isn’t possible. You can’t always control setbacks. The week following my 10 mile training run, I got sick – very sick. I missed almost all of my runs that week and subsequently bombed my final long run. And while I freaked out a bit about it, the truth is, I learned that flexibility is key to success and that perfect isn’t possible. I had to do the best I could in any circumstances, and for me, that’s as close to perfection as I want to be.
- Don’t just set goals, set benchmarks. Of course my goal was to finish 13.1 miles successfully, but more than that, I set clear benchmarks I had to hit to finish in the desired time. And I didn’t just recognize my 5k, 10k, 15k splits, I actually programmed my playlist to alert me to these benchmarks on my iPod. I knew which songs were my goal sons for each piece of the race.
- The soundtrack to your life. Many professionals walk the streets of their city with iPod ear buds in. Take the time to program a soundtrack that motivates and energizes you. If you’re having a bad day, find songs that you can add to your “attitude adjustment” playlist. For me, the soundtrack to my half was incredibly important to my success.
- Acknowledge your accomplishments. As women, we all too often say, “Oh, it was no big deal.” Stop that. It took me 13.1 miles to realize this. But when someone says, “Good for you!” I know I can say, “YES! Good for me!” I am proud, more proud than I’ve been in as long as I can remember. And I’ll never diminish what I did this weekend. Never. Just like you should never diminish your accomplishments – in life, in fitness, and in business.
- Adjust your sails. My splits were crazy yesterday. My first half was nearly 25 minutes faster than my second half of the race. For the second half of the race, the officials changed the alert level to red, which kind of means “Ok, crazy, why are you running in this heat?” So I slowed down, and I didn’t worry about my time at all. I had to adjust my expectations to finish and not hit my time goals, because the last thing I wanted was to push too hard and end up a race casualty in a medical tent. So I ran a long run, no biggie!
I have received so much support in my journey thus far, and I take with me great lessons as I move forward to…..marathon training! I turn my attention immediately to October 7th and the Chicago Marathon, knowing without a doubt I can do it and looking forward to the many lessons I know I’ll learn in the coming months.
If there’s something you want to do, fitness related, business related, or otherwise, it’s not too late, it’s not to big. Anything you want to accomplish, you can. Go do it!