Last week, I went on a run early in the morning, and five minutes into it, I looked around to see a rainbow slowly forming across an open field. I thought, How lucky am I to be running this morning as the sun comes up, the birds chirp, the sun begins to peak out from behind the clouds… I wish I could do this all day!
Fifteen minutes later, I was still running along in la la land when all of the sudden I looked down and there was a creature rearing up on its small little legs at me. I screamed, jumped higher mid-stride than I think I ever could if I tried, said some expletives, and then continued on my run (a little faster than before). What was this creature? It probably sounds like it was some big animal, but, uh, really… I think it was just a crawfish. I can’t be sure—I ran away too fast to get a closer look.
You may be wondering why I’m talking about this. (That a crawfish scared me is actually kind of embarrassing.) But, I thought it ironic that I could go from marveling at the beauty of the rainbow in the sky, my head in the clouds, to being hurled back to the ground and my heart rate going bezerk in just a few short seconds.
Well, I thought this experience was a good metaphor of how my weekend went at the big race that I’ve been training for: the MC200, a 200-mile relay race from Madison to Chicago. My ten teammates and I took turns running miles from one city to the next without stopping. That’s right, we started at 9am on Friday morning and a few lucky folks got to keep running right on through the night until the sun came up again. And yes, I did think we were a little crazy at a few points, but what’s life without a little craziness mixed in?
I had to wait for five teammates to run before I got to go out on my first leg of the race. I was on cloud nine: so excited to run, imagining my run would be like that rainbow in the sky—easily making progress across the field, no end to that onward energy in sight. I started my first leg along a bike trail; it was heavily shaded, lush and green and beautiful. This is great! I thought.
But then, that proverbial crawfish jumped out at me. Only a quarter mile down and the trees abruptly ended, leaving me with an expansive view of a wide open field and NO more trees for miles. The next several miles were run along a dirt path, through an open field in direct sunlight, in heat and humidity. To say it was difficult is an understatement. There was one point where I remember thinking, How am I ever going to finish this? Nothing I’ve done has trained me for this! And immediately following that, I responded to myself, No. EVERYthing I have done has trained me for this. Everyone is counting on me. I can finish this.
I don’t know how, in those following miles, I kept holding on to that thought. I had been looking forward to the race for six months, and dang it, I was going to finish that grueling five-and-a-half mile leg if it killed me. (And I was pretty sure it was going to, a few times.) I finished it, and miraculously I even finished it on pace & on time! Thankfully, out of the three legs of the race that I had to run, that leg was the hardest. But, everything was worth it—even the moments of self-doubt and questioning—when as a team, the eleven of us crossed the final finish line, 200 miles later, together in Chicago. (And received our sweet medals!)
I guess what I learned, looking back on the weekend, is that life is really a flip of the coin. It’s great some days, then suddenly it can be so hard that you wonder how you can keep going. Same with working out and trying to eat right. Some days it’s hard, and others it all comes naturally. You may not be able to control what side the coin lands on, but you can control your attitude and actions. And I think keeping my attitude positive and just trying when I thought I could not go a step further—well, that’s just exactly what got me across the finish line this week.
What keeps YOU going toward that finish line when you just want to stop?
Starting weight: 166 pounds
Last week: 156 pounds
This week: 154.5 pounds (woohoo)
Goal weight: 145 pounds
P.S. Thanks Jockey® for the extra support!