In four days I’m running the Hartford Marathon.
I am not adequately trained for it. Not even close.
I registered for this back in May, partially as a way to stay motivated to work out because I had gained quite a bit of weight over the last year and a half.
I also registered for it because when I ran it back in 2014 I went out way too fast and ran the first half in 2:10, and thought I was going to die around mile 20 and finished the second half in 2:34.
So I wanted to redeem myself. I wanted to run a smarter race.
I was super motivated and pumped at the beginning of the summer.
Then I failed to follow my training plan, and this summer was a disaster with respect to running.
Seven weeks ago I was kind of at a cross roads.
I was advised by a couple people to either not run the marathon at all or to switch to just the half.
My mom and some friends have reminded me that I don’t have to do this. That it would be okay for me to withdraw, and try again next year.
As recently as yesterday morning I was still questioning what to do.
In fact, I had kind of convinced myself 24 hours ago that I should probably not do it.
I haven’t really written much about it because then I’d have to admit to a whole bunch of people that I didn’t follow through if I flaked out and decided not to run.
I was giving myself an easy out.
The other problem I have is that I am super competitive.
In some things I am competitive with other people.
But in this case, I am mostly competitive with myself. Because I’m not a fast runner. I am an average marathoner. The average marathon time for a woman is 5:10.
My fastest time in any marathon is a 4:37 (New York),
and my slowest is a 4:50 (Cape Cod).
So that’s a little faster than the average woman (who isn’t a serious runner).
But I want to run a best time. I want to run a marathon faster than I ever have.
This is my nature.
So it is hard for me to go into this race knowing that the chances of me running a best time are basically zero.
I mean, then what is the point?
Well, the point is that I don’t exercise and compete purely for competition.
In fact, at this point, that reason is kind of far down the list.
The biggest reason I work out and push myself in things like marathons and triathlons is to remind myself how tough I am.
To remind myself that I can do hard things.
I CAN DO LOTS OF HARD THINGS.
And I have some things to prove to myself.
First, I need to try to do something knowing full well there is a chance I may fail.
Like I really may not finish this race.
I do not plan on not finishing. But I need to give myself the opportunity to remember that failure is okay.
It simply provides us with opportunities to learn, grow, and improve.
The second thing I need to prove to myself is that you can accomplish things when the plan you mapped out for yourself isn’t followed perfectly.
That just because things don’t go as planned doesn’t mean you abort the entire mission.
The third reason I need to do this is because I don’t believe you ever really “arrive” at a place where you are mentally as tough as you can be.
My mental toughness muscles have plenty of room to grow.
I need to give myself a really big reminder that I can handle any situation.
Especially right now. Because I’m going through some stuff right now, and I need to remind myself that I’m a badass.
And this will be really good practice for that.
Finally, there is the thing I have learned since entering my forties.
Exercise and working out and pushing yourself isn’t something you do so you can get a best time.
It’s not something you do for six months so you can fit into that dress you bought for your twenty-fifth high school reunion.
It’s not a short term strategy you employ in May before bathing suit season arrives.
Exercise is a crucial part of your daily routine if you want to have any sort of quality of life when you are older.
Exercise keeps your brain and your body strong so you are prepared to deal with the major challenges that life is going to present you with. They are inevitable.
There will be major challenges.
There will be bankruptcies and foreclosures and job losses and major surgeries and sicknesses and divorces and deaths and natural disasters and a whole bunch of other things that you cannot predict.
And I don’t know about you, but I want to be at the top of my game when those things inevitably appear. Unannounced.
I want to be physically prepared to make it through any grueling situation life presents me with.
Pushing myself physically prepares me mentally to handle these situations.
I have decent amount of money accumulated in my ledger at the Bank Of Hard Shit.
And around 1 pm on Saturday, October 13th, I’ll be making another pretty big payment to my account.
I am not quitting, and I refuse to take the easy way out.
Because I can do hard things.
(and so can you).