I can do hard things

Five years ago I ran my first and only ½ marathon. I wrote this race report (below), which reminded me of the high I felt that day. And although I still don’t love or even like to run, it’s nice to be reminded that I can do hard things. In fact, it’s more than nice – it’s imperative. It’s absolutely imperative to tell yourself – to convince yourself –  that you can do hard things.

Everyday in the news, in my Facebook feed, at work, and just walking the neighborhood, I see people do hard things. I get inspired by so many people!  I see handicapped push beyond their dreams.  I see the dying make brave choices.  I see kids reaching out to help.  I see heroes protect people from shooters.  I see soldiers and know what they do.

And yes, I see members walk in to my meeting for the first time – sometimes excited and sometimes depressed and sometimes scared – all facing a hard thing.   And the process is similar to my race.

One March I was convinced to try running. So many of my members ran and they were different ages and sizes. I was at my goal weight thinking I was in shape so instead of my normal walk that day, I chose to run. Well, that didn’t go well. I made it to the next mail box and I was huffing and puffing!   I couldn’t do it. But instead of saying to myself, “well, I guess you’re not going to be running,” I came inside and signed up for a half marathon 8 months later.   I worked backwards in my training.   I signed up for some 5Ks and a 10K and then the big one. I had to start small. I used an app on my phone to start me in intervals and everyday I ran a little longer. Pretty soon running a mile didn’t phase me, then two and so on. I had setbacks, injuries, and HUGE cases of the “I don’t wannas.” But, the more I achieved, the more confident I became.

That’s how you tackle any goal – including weight loss. Start with a mail box – ok, not really. But the mailbox analogy to weight loss is one small thing today. That might be replacing a soda with a glass of water. This process is taking one small thing at a time. This process can’t rely on motivation. Motivation is fickle and doesn’t stick around the ENTIRE time. It comes and goes.

Five years ago I ran that race. One month later I lost my dog. Losing Jack was harder than the race (all the training included.) We all go through really hard phases in our lives. Friends and family may disappoint us. We may lose people to death, divorce, or a parting of the ways. We may make horrible mistakes and live the consequences.

But the thing with time is that it doesn’t stop. We can use it or just watch it go by.   Pick a hard thing to do. Break it down in to many easier things.   I had a member celebrate losing 60 pounds this past week. When she started the program, she was pretty sure it was not going to work because it hadn’t in the past. The difference was she never set out to lose 60 pounds. She set out to do one thing good for herself each day. She reminded me that I told her “small changes, don’t be perfect” (something I tell almost every new member!) and that stuck with her. She didn’t follow a food plan (Weight Watchers or otherwise) for 2 months!!! She just did one good-for-her thing everyday. She became more and more confident in her abilities to DO THIS! And she has. Break it down.

The other benefit (other than remembering the high) that I was reminded of from reading my race report is the power of documenting. I just wrote it as a Facebook Note, but seeing it today – the 5 year anniversary of the event – reminded me why I love to write. Sometimes you need reminders.  Today’s reminder is to come up with my next hard thing.

For those that want to read the race report, I’m including it.

City of Oaks Half Marathon

November 7, 2010 at 1:31pm

I’m really truly blessed.  I have to start this blog post that way because in all my training and in the few races I’ve run, I am reminded of this fact.

The other fact that is important here is that I still don’t love to run.  And I actually suggest to others that they find an activity that they LIKE and it makes working out easier.

With those two facts in my head, I trained.  I had minor and major setbacks.  Being 48 has its drawbacks.  Although that said, I couldn’t do this at 38 so yay me for getting it together by now.

So, I suppose this “race” started a few days ago when I saw my friend Terry’s status about a playlist.  Because of some computer issues at work, I couldn’t, so I decided I would just “random” my workout playlist.  Yesterday I picked up my race packet.   I love watching all the other racers pick up their packet.  I’m totally judging them – but not in a bad way, just truly just evaluating their body type, their confidence level as they walked around, their purchases.  The thing about runners is they come in every shape, size and age.  I do love that.  It was a great race packet and a great long-sleeved t-shirt in that runner material people like (someone knows what it’s called.)  I never wear the t-shirt they give me – I want my old worn stuff so I know that there are no tags or itches or anything.

This morning was COLD.  That was my first problem.  My lungs don’t like the cold.  And my adrenaline was pumping so much for being so excited that I forgot to use my inhaler before the race.  During the race I saw people use theirs and I never thought I’d have inhaler-envy, but I did!  The first two miles were hard because of that.  But I worked through it.  I saw so many strewn clothing on the road from people who bundled up for the cold, then got hot from their run.  The clothes will be  collected and get donated to charity.

The volunteers (at every intersection) were awesome.  So many people cheering for specific groups, but also the general public just screaming and yelling “Great job!” and other kudos.

It was about mile 8 where the pain truly started.  I don’t have great posture and I obviously need to do better in strength training in this area, but my shoulder blades felt like I was being stabbed repeatedly from mile 8 until… well, darnit, they still hurt.  I think it was then that I was passed by my first marathoner – FULL marathoner.  These people make it look so easy, running like gazelles.  I run like a wild animal, too, just not sure which and if he’s injured or not.

So from this point on was lungs, shoulder blades and now, at mile 10, my left leg felt like it was trying to be removed from my socket.  Ironically the hip issue that I’ve been fighting with never appeared (Thank goodness!!)  I followed the doctor’s orders about not running to a point where it hurt.  So many people have been telling me to listen to my body, it will tell me to walk or slow.  I have to say that my body and mind were on polar opposites half this race.  My mind said – sure, walk now.  You don’t want to run anymore.  My body would argue and do it anyway.  Then they’d switch.  In running, the mind will win.  So I had to truly play the mind games.

Neil and Jack came to the race.  They cheered me on (Jack was on a brick perch like a king on a throne).  Right before I turned on to campus, I thought I couldn’t do anymore.  I didn’t want to do anymore.  And that’s when again it hit me…. I’m blessed.  I have two legs, determination of stone, and I worked for this.  So I couldn’t stop now.  I saw them, they saw me, and I kept going.  I needed to RUN across that finish line.  I saw them out of my peripheral vision running on the sidewalk alongside me.  I crossed it and the gun time was 3:03.  Official time 2:59:01.  UNDER three hours.

So… I still don’t love running, but I’d like to bottle up THIS feeling that I have right now and share it with anyone.  I bet if I could bottle and sell it, I’d be rich.  Never mind… I’m rich enough… and very blessed.

Jack race

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2 thoughts on “I can do hard things

  1. Hi, Marci,

    Beautifully written, as always. It really struck me when you talked about the WW member who lost 60 pounds, even though she never set out to. This was exactly my story!

    When I committed to change, I committed to daily practices, NOT losing 100 pounds. And, it worked!

    I also applaud that you recognize pushing through a practice you don’t enjoy (running) was important. Often, in the midst of significant change, the best information we learn along the way is what we DON’T enjoy. Most extreme diets don’t teach us this iterative and self-aware process.

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