A year ago, I never thought I would be able to participate in a half marathon. I didn’t think I was capable. When I debated about even registering for the event, my mom—though she has been my cheerleader and she was my official ChEAR Squad for the run—said, “I’m not saying you can’t…but you’ll have to really train.” For a woman who has always been overwhelmingly (sometimes annoyingly) positive, this felt like a moment of doubt in my dedication and my ability. So, I registered. And here I am, a day post-race—a day after my first half marathon.
The first mile was easy. But then I started counting down the miles and questioning my ability to finish. And then I mentally paused and literally looked around me as I pressed forward. Volunteers had taken hours out of their morning (and had to start really early!) to provide guidance, hydration, and moral support for us runners. My own ChEAR Squad got up just as early as I did (2 a.m.!) to get to the starting point by 3 a.m. only to wait three more hours before I would actually cross the starting line. And I realized that if she had really thought I couldn’t do it, she wouldn’t have taken the trip and stood on the sidelines for me.
I had every reason to make excuses during the run. I contracted a cold on Thursday. The race started at 5:30 a.m., but with the number of runners there were (over 26,000!) and the number of waves in each corral, I didn’t start until 6:45. I was having problems connecting by AirPods to my phone before starting, and I was panicking that I would have to run without music. Like I said, that first mile was easy, but then each mile after felt like an eternity. But keeping that mentality would not only make the run very long indeed, but I wouldn’t enjoy it. I forced myself to reframe my mentality: I get to do this; how cool is it to run from Epcot to Magic Kingdom; I am one of only 2 million people to complete a half marathon; I am young and strong and capable.
Any time I felt weak, and especially as I reached miles 10 and 11, I would silently ask the Lord for mental strength and physical endurance. Thanks to those prayers, I was able to reframe my thinking, which also meant I was able to run almost the entire time. I walked only to grab a cup of water from the hydration stations and twice to try to take some deeper breaths without coughing. (I was running with a cold, remember.)
We are our own worst enemies, really. We are our harshest critics, but we forget to be our top celebrators. No one should be prouder of us than, well, us.
Just because you have never done something before doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It may take training and practice, but if you are dedicated and your heart is in it, you will accomplish whatever it is you’re aiming to do. And if you have faith, even just a little, and ask for God’s guidance through the process, you will do more than simply accomplish it—you’ll overcome whatever boundaries you are facing and you will do better than you thought you would.
Because it was my first half marathon, I didn’t care what corral I was put in, so I didn’t submit a qualifying time. I really just didn’t want to be the last person across the finish line, and I wanted to finish in 3 hours. (The max time we were allowed was 3.5 hours.)
I finished in 2 hours, 15 minutes, and 13 seconds.
Yes, I was sore and tired and coughing. But, man, was I proud of myself. It took a lot to not find my mom and cry out of pure happiness. I even started getting teary-eyed when I saw the finish line. And I wore that medal around the park the rest of the day. Because I was, and am, proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished.
I never thought I’d be able to do something like this. I never thought I was capable. And in April, I’m registering for my next one.