6.2 Miles of Inspiration
|September 13, 2011||Posted by Emily under Uncategorized|
One of my sweatiest friends and favorite people in the world of running (and just the world-world in general) is gearing up to run her first marathon in two short weeks.
Based on her flexing skillz alone, I can say with authority that she’s going to kill it.
Yesterday, some playful banter over twitter led me to start day dreaming about showing up on Ali’s big M-Day decked out in my neonest of neon apparel, cowbell in hand, ready to lose my voice cheering for Ali on the (26.2 mile) Run.
This fun and only-kind-of-sort-of-joking conversation (this sweaty girl does not really joke about marathon start lines) led me to fondly reflect on some of the things that got me through my first marathon, 12 long 26.2 mile races ago.
One of my favorite things that I did to help me conquer the distance for the first time is something I learned from my mom. For those of you who don’t know, my mom is a bad ass runner and finished her first marathon the year she turned 50…well before this I was doing anything resembling endurance sports (unless you count friday night flip cup tournaments as an endurance sport.)
When my mom ran her first marathon, she decided to dedicate each of the last 6 miles of her marathon to someone who inspired her, motivated her, or believed in her ability to do anything. Because her longest training runs were limited to 20 miles, she wanted something to get her through that unchartered final stretch of the daunting distance. Associating each mile with an important person in her life meant she could think of each person to push her to finish that last 6.2 miles. And obviously, you can’t quit the race when you’re running a mile FOR someone. How would it feel to have to call one of the most special people in your life after the race and tell him you quit the race on his mile? Exactly. Not an option.
She dedicated her last mile to my father, my brother and me. Seeing her round that last corner and knowing that she was thinking about us to keep putting one foot in front of the other to get to the finish, meant the world to each of us and inspired me to adopt her tactic before I toed the line at my own inaugural 26.2 a few years later.
I used an eclectic mix of people from all facets of my life to dedicate my last 6.2 miles to: an old coach who remains an inspiration in my life to this day, a cousin recently back from serving overseas, family members, training partners, and friends who supported me unconditionally as I embarked on my quest to train for and finish my first marathon.
When I hit mile 20 of that first marathon, I was in desperate need or something, anything to keep me moving. I was dealing with a stress fracture in one of my shins and barely limping my way through each mile. My pace had dropped by minutes a mile and I couldn’t bear to look at my watch and face the harsh reality of just how slowly I was making progress towards the finish.
Digging deep and thinking about each person I had selected, and more importantly, why I had chosen them gave me the final push I needed to finish that last 10k of the marathon.
I thought about my old swim coach pushing me beyond my limits at countless swim practices as I hit mile 21, I thought about my friend and training partner who had motivated me through miles upon miles of training runs to help me get in marathon shape, and I thought about my mom, who had flown past me miles ago, finishing her first marathon at age 50.
Using the inspiration of each friend and family truly got me to the finish line of my first marathon. If you’re looking for a little help at your next daunting distance, I suggest you also learning a lesson from my mom. She’s not only a bad ass runner, she’s one smart woman.
What tricks of motivation have you used to get through the final stretch of a tough race?