5 Important Lessons I Gained From My First Half-Marathon
Long distance running has always intimidated the shit out of me.
It’s a hell of a marriage between mind, body and spirit so to be blunt I wasn’t feeling the idea of being responsible for all three. With that said, at a young age I surely thought divorce papers would be thrown my way with the swiftness.
I didn’t want to face my weak areas and power them up. I didn’t want to feel the parallels to life. I didn’t want to runnnnnnn.
Man I’ll never forget when my friend Sacha told me she thought the pavement and I would make a great team.
This must’ve been 2012ish and I wasn’t even trying to do 3 miles!!! But surprise, surprise just like a corny family movie, she was correct.
Since then I’d fall in love and break up with running 100x. It would always end the same way --- with one foot in front of the other revealing chunks of my true self and me not being able to handle it. This would also be the same thing that lured me back in. My affair with running has length and layers I tell you.
Now fast forward, on May 20th, 2017, your girl CONQUERED her first half marathon!!!
What an incredible rush yo: endorphins dripping all over my body, pride beaming from the soul of my seat and lessons begging to be shared.
Here are five that stood at full attention:
1 | THE FAST & THE FURIOUS & THE FOH
Running with people, especially 26,000 of them, will flip you into a Comparison 101 scholar, I tell you.
During a marathon visualization workshop I attended, I was told to run at least the first 3-5 miles at slower pace than usual, NO MATTER all the speedy thighs passing me by. Keep it cool, calm and collected.
Why? To conserve my energy for the inevitable long haul.
Man, when I tell you that gun went off and motherfuckers were SPRINTING like Jesus was milly rockin on the next block… all I could think about is how silly I would be to follow.
Someone’s “sprint” could actually be their version of pacing because this is like their 5th half-marathon… but I wouldn’t know that.
Someone could be hustling like crazy because he or she was a novice who got seduced by the rush... but I wouldn't know that.
All of these are reasons to not get caught up in the sight when we don’t know the full story. That just doesn’t serve our sanity (or endurance) at all. And of course, I ended up passing many of the very people who shot past me in the beginning, now on their huff and puff. Shrug.
K E Y T A K E A W A Y : Stay in your own skin and run your own race. Bonus: listen to my audio vision board, Compariholics Anonymous for extra guidance.
2 | TO LEAVE MY MAN OR NOT TO LEAVE MY MAN
That was the question of the morning, my friends.
A little background on me: as much as I love human connection, I’ve always been a very autonomous spirit… to the point where most of my life, the thought of marriage has made me squirm more than smile.
My guy is an incredible one and I can say that with honest ease. The most he’s ever run in his life is five miles (mine prior to race day was 10 miles) and when I told him about my plans to finally run the Brooklyn Half, he went into full support mode and said it was a goal he’d also like to take on.
As race day inched closer, I’d been ping ponging the idea of us crossing the finish line together.
Because I have more experience with the road (and he has a janky knee lolol), long runs have been easier on my body than his and during our training days he always encouraged me to not slow down if I were ahead.
On the morning of I told him my decision...
I wanted to cross that finish line hand-in-hand, heart-by-heart. After all, we’re a team and we’d been conditioning for months together.
Now for the first seven miles, I’d say we were pretty damn in sync, but after that my friends, your girl wanted to FLEX, meanwhile my guy wanted to pace.
BLAHHHHHHHHHH! What a dilemma.
Suddenly I had a voice saying: Girl, why slow down for anyone? Why quiet your potential when it wants to roar? Why you ain’t doing you boo?
Normally I’d salute these as very valid questions, but the answer was stronger than the query.
Dear self, I’ve honored you a million times and will do it a million more, but today is about honoring and watering partnership. Plus bitch, if you really think you want to marry this man you better score well on this exercise of sacrifice and delayed gratification and compromise and catch these benefits.
K E Y T A K E A W A Y : Sometimes a win is sweeter when shared; your independence will always be around for the next adventure.
3 | PREPARATION BREEDS CONFIDENCE
Although I was hella nervous in the days leading up to the half, tucked in the shadows was trust.
I’d started my journey back in January and went on a more specific plan (created by my trainer bud, Barrington) seven weeks prior to that. Beyond that I’d done dissertation-worthy amount of research on the sport of running from stretches, to foods, to breathing practices, pacing methods etc. Not to mention I made sure I trained on the hills of Prospect Park – a part of the race everyone complained were killers.
With all of that said, what good reason was there to bank more on fear than facts?
K E Y T A K E A W A Y : Confidence isn’t a special sauce poured onto the DNA of a chosen few. Nah, confidence is birthed when practice and knowledge get it poppin.
4 | MAKE IT BIGGER THAN YOURSELF
Beyond having an excellent playlist to soundtrack all the stages of running a marathon (Subscribe to my Spotify playlist to check it out, heads up I LOVE Cole lolol), something else pushed me to stay in stride: dedicating a mile to a loved one.
It’s crazy how a lot of times, the strength we’ll muster up for someone we care is sometimes bigger than what we would give ourselves. Every time I stepped foot into a new mile I made sure to kiss it up to friends, family and even those I’ve never met, but whose challenges I know well thanks to the Internet.
Being an adamant believer in the idea that energy is transferrable, led me to give my all on behalf of others. I didn’t always run with that in mind, but as soon as I started to, my complaints lessoned and my power increased.
K E Y T A K E A W A Y : Our commitment deepens when we include someone other than ourselves.
5 | NO LIMIT SOLDIER
Completing this half-marathon enhanced my level of self-trust. It's a similar feeling to when you have a test-turned-triumph moment in a relationship that you know just took yall to a deeper level. Crossing that finish line reaffirmed that I am godly. I was able to see, feel and most importantly discipline the muscle of my spirit more than ever before. And that power is in the proof.
K E Y T A K E A W A Y : Trust what the road shows you.
I did it guyssssssss!!!!!! I can't and can believe it! For some reason I feel a calling to climb a mountain called full marathon... but I'll let you know if that's fact or fiction lol.
So how do you feel about running? What's your status with the pavement? Love it? Loathe it? Whatever the answer is, I'd love to hear! Leave a comment below or shoot me a tweet.
And as always, thanks for being a partner-in-shine!