Thoughts from a half marathon

Shannon Wilkinson at the Foot Traffic Flat half marathon 2012With this morning’s race complete, I promise the running-centric posts will dwindle substantially! But, I can’t help myself with this one. There’s lots of time to think while running for two hours.

Here are a few of the things I thought about:

People vary.*

As much as I know this, it’s easy to forget. There’s nothing like running with a couple thousand people for it to really sink in. All those different running styles and body shapes and clothing and shoe choices.

I can only begin to imagine all the different things that are going on in people’s heads.

Never say never.

It wasn’t that long ago that I publicly and frequently proclaimed myself a non-runner. And then about two years ago, I found myself seeing runners, and thinking “I wish I could do that.”  One day at the gym, I got on the treadmill. I ran! Not for long and definitely not fast, but I did it. It was the first time in over 25 years.

After a few treadmill runs, I ventured outside. Running outside! What an amazing thing. Then a half marathon and a marathon. Things that never, ever seemed possible to me before.

My biggest surprise? Races. Turns out I love running races. I find that particularly amusing because of the next thing.

There’s freedom in knowing you aren’t going to win.

That’s not modesty or self-deprecation talking. It’s a pure and simple fact. There are natural born runners who train hard for these events. They are the ones that cross the finish line way before me. I don’t have to even think about them, other than to be in awe of their speed and ability.

Instead, I get to run for myself. I might have a time I’d like to hit, but really, my goal is firstly to show up, and secondly finish (if I can do it without causing irreparable harm to myself). Anything beyond that is gravy.

The combination of a goal that feels good to me, and no pressure to push myself perhaps beyond my capabilities is so empowering. I get to enjoy my training, running the race and perhaps most importantly, my results, whatever they are.

Walking around today, after the race, I heard a fair number of people lamenting their results and picking apart their strategies. I enjoy a good feedback sandwich, but picking it all apart and all that disappointment would suck the fun out of it for me. But, again people vary.

Happy Independence Day!

* People vary. Thank you Paul Grilley (and Havi for spreading the word about him) for this fantastic concept. Of course they do, in so many ways. It’s so wonderful to be reminded of it, when it’s so easy to forget.

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