“From where does it come to see the race to its end…….it comes from within” – Chariots of Fire
When it comes to completing the marathon distance (26.2 miles) no truer words have been spoken. Today, I ran the Twin Cities marathon for the second time. The weather was crisp and clear, the spectators were enthusiastic and friendly and I was fired up and ready to go. I’ve learned through the years that anything can happen during a race. I was feeling great and really strong for the first few miles, then things quickly took a turn for the worse. The race started at 8:00, and by 8:30, just as I was mid-way through mile 4, my right hip was throbbing in pain with every step. My hip had shown minor signs of an issue about a week ago after my last training run, but since it was time to taper down my runs in anticipation of the marathon, I simply rested it, iced it and took ibuprofen whenever it felt uncomfortable, which was infrequently. I believed that whatever the issue it was fleeting and that I would be fine. Wrong! During the marathon the pain returned with a vengeance, and I seriously contemplated prematurely ending my run. I weighed the pros (I could prevent causing any long-term damage and I could get immediate relief from my pain) and cons (I would disappoint not only myself, but also my family and friends who’d come out to support me, and all my hours of training would be for naught). While I was wrestling with my decision I continued to run, because I really didn’t want to stop, and in the process of running my hip started to slightly numb. The pain was still there but it started to become a little fainter. I took that as a sign to keep going. Then, as I looked to my left I saw a sign that read, “Pain is Temporary but Pride is Forever”. That sign was in the right place at the right time, and it helped me to resolve to finish the race by pushing through the pain. I began to overcompensate and run on my “good side” which allowed me to get by and still make progress. Before I knew it I was passing the 10-mile marker, then the 15-mile marker and eventually the 20-mile marker. My hip was still throbbing on and off the entire time but I was determined to give it my all and to finish the race. Right on time, at mile 21, I saw my wonderful husband and children cheering me on from the sidelines. Their support during my weeks and months of training coupled with their presence at the race was enough to keep me running towards the finish line. I miraculously made it across the finish line with a slight limp and a good finishing time. I was overjoyed and very proud of myself for persevering.
As I’ve said many times, running is the best metaphor for life that I have experienced. Through the ups and downs, the good days and bad, we must gather our strength, dig deep within and resolve to keep moving forward, one step at a time. We must never quit.
"Running (life) is a big question mark that's there each and every day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'"
- Peter Maher, Canadian marathon runner