On April 20, 2015, I ran my first Boston Marathon. I cannot tell you how grateful I was to be part of this event. It lived up to all the hype. Along the way, I learned some important lessons that have nothing to do with running. They have to do with life.
Do You Hear Negative Voices?
The Boston Marathon is known for its hills. As I approached the first one at mile 16, exhaustion, pain, and fear crept in. In my head I heard, ‘I think we should walk’. My immediate thought was, who is ‘we’ and why do ‘you’ want to walk? It was a voice speaking from the difficulty within myself. I used my rational and determined voice to overpower the negative one (boy it got complicated in there!) I told myself that my legs felt very good and walking would only delay the finish.
Lesson #1 – The harder things get, the louder those negative voices are.
What do you believe about your current circumstances?
Because I was so grateful to experience this marathon, I decided to enjoy each and every mile. This became my mantra without consciously deciding it. This thought easily shifted my mind from the discomfort and uncertainty I felt to a statement of certainty and joy. I said 'I am enjoying this mile' to myself so many times that it got to the point where I thought, surely it wouldn't work again, but it did!
Lesson #2 – You can talk yourself into anything if you re-frame your thinking.
What small details trip you up?
I don’t know why, but I love clothes. It may seem shallow but I really love to wear an outfit I feel good in. It started with my Barbie dolls, . . . but I digress. The morning of the race was windy, cold and the forecast for rain was high. The outfit I had planned to wear wasn’t right, but what was? I had packed for every possible weather scenario (of course I did) so I had options.
I wasn’t the only runner going to plan B that day. Running for 26.2 miles is intense and any small scratchy or uncomfortable tag or seam can be miserable. The wind and the rain brought on their own challenges. I was talking outloud to myself and my husband quietly watched without judgment or comment. I finally picked an outfit and left the hotel. There was no turning back.
I got on the bus to take us to the starting line. Across the aisle from me sat a pretty 20-something wearing a cute peach rain jacket with a Boston logo. Her hair was all perky in a beautiful ponytail and she had an armband holding her perfect IPhone. I had that jacket too. Why didn’t I wear my cute peach rain jacket? As I saw the raindrops begin to hit the bus windshield, I cringed inside and asked myself again, why didn’t you bring the peach rain jacket? There’s nothing you can do now! But I wish I had my jacket! It’s so cute and peach and it would keep the rain off me. Stop it! You are wearing a perfectly good garbage bag (oh yeah, that’s a fashion statement based completely on ‘function’). You are not 20-something. That armband and IPhone would bug you after mile 6!
Lesson #3 - If you don’t have the right clothes, just go with what you got!
Do your expectations cause you to be disappointed?
As I approached the finish line, I wasn’t certain that I would be able to muster up the energy to lift my hands over my head. I finish every run that way as an expression of gratitude. I got it done, although exhaustion wiped the smile from my face. As I slowed to a walk, the first thought in my head was, ‘it’s over’. I was melancholy and it was not what I expected. After 10 months of anticipation, planning, training, conversations, and excitement, it was over.
Lesson #4 - It wasn't about the finish line.
Do the opinions of others matter?
I say they don’t matter. I’m doing this for myself. I run because it makes me healthy and running the Boston Marathon is an opportunity. It’s not about what you think. Your opinion of me doesn’t matter. But the truth is it really does. I am not motivated to act based on your opinions of me, but your positive affirmation makes it sweeter.
Lesson #5 - It feels good to see a look of admiration on my husband’s face.
What makes a place fun to you?
The food, Fenway Park, The Freedom Trail, Mike’s Pastry, the Museum of Fine Arts, Little Italy, the New England Aquarium, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chinatown, Bostonians, the Isabel Stewart Gardner Museum, the T, Boston Common, room service.
Lesson #6 - Boston is a fun city!
Life is full of lessons.