While doing my post-lifting fat-burning 30 minutes of cardio, I read books. At this point, I'm reading "Running on Empty" by Marshall Ulrich. This man is inspirational...at nearly 60 years old he RAN across America! His book has greatly helped me to understand the challenges and mental toughness required to conquer long distances.
This was quite appropriate as I completed my first ever marathon. WOW! What an amazing course. The Mohawk Hudson Marathon is well organized and is first-time marathoners' top-choice for a reason. The course is downhill and flat. But even with that advantage, I began hitting that proverbial "wall" around mile 20, which is really when the race begins. I started to get in my head and feel every little twinge. At that point I was just merely surviving, not thriving. I focused on my music, kept in step to the tunes, and aimed for each mile marker, knowing with the passing of each one I'd be closer to the finish.
There is much truth when Ulrich states, "We can be our own worst enemies when it comes to those doubts and negative self-talk." I tell that people all the time when they say I'm crazy for pursuing longer distance races, particularly a marathon and Ironman Lake Placid. Once you have defeated yourself, you are done. But if I can train my brain, just like I do my body to make it through the miles, I'll be successful in completion in my endeavors. Just like in life, if you tell yourself you can't, then you won't. But if you believe in yourself, you'll go much farther.
Ulrich talks about having an "out of body experience" and disowning the pain, not letting it get to him. That's what I tried to remember as my feet started to ache and I stopped to stretch as my hamstrings tightened. I kept shutting out the thoughts of feeling the pain, I said to myself, "It's there, but you are closer to the finish than the end."
Ulrich writes, "You remind yourself that it you quit but hard to live with afterward." I may have read that passage after the marathon, but that definitely holds true. I thought about giving up multiple times, but then I realized how disappointed I would be in myself. I also realized that even though I would not make my 4 hour goal, I would still finish, which was more than those on the couch had done. Quitting will follow you the rest of your life, whether in a race or in a job pursuit or in whatever your goals may be.
I ended up finishing 4 hours, 19 minutes and 17 seconds after I crossed the start line. It took longer than I expected and wanted, but I finished and never actually gave up. Click here to see: Video of My Marathon Finish