Last April, I signed up for the Fox Cities Marathon, and not one person believed I could do it. I had never ran in a race before besides the dreaded mile in high school gym class, much less 26.2 miles, but I signed up for it anyway.
Last Sunday, due to a few complications, I ran the half marathon. Call me lazy, call me a quitter, call me whatever you wish, but I stand proud along with the other runners who participated in each of the races. I’m proud of the drive that motivated us all enough to reach the finish line.
Let’s face it, long-distance running isn’t a skill we were all born with. It takes long periods of training, an “I won’t give up” mentality, and something that moves us enough to keep us motivated.
When I lined up at the starting line, surrounded by 6,000 other runners, I noticed some of them had bibs on their backs that read “What moves you?” with answers written in beneath the question.
Some of them made for a truly inspiring and humbling read. Some described coming back from serious injury or illness, recovering from drugs or running in memory of a loved one. Others simply described what it takes to tie your shoes and get out there.
One that gave me a good laugh was “food.”
As I ran, I kept reading the backs of the runners around me. Each person had a story to tell. 6,000 people were running in the race with 6,000 different reasons for getting out there and exploring their limits. Doing the extraordinary.
Everyone’s story was truly unique and inspiring no matter what speed they intended to run, and I wish I had the time to hear them all.
They were running with knee braces, they were running at the age of 80, they were running in groups of bridesmaids, and they were running with cancer. Sure, it was difficult, and sure, they lost faith at times during training, but not one of them quit. I learned the art of the possible from myself and the other runners on Sunday.
We are all guilty of building up our own wall of limitation. “I can’t” falls from our mouths more than “I can.” Instead of breaking that wall down, we hide behind it. It isn’t until you try and accomplish something so profound in your life that you realize how much you are limiting yourself.
For months of training, I was surrounded with “you can’t,” but I never gave up. “I can” goes a long way. In my situation it went 13.1 miles.
Whether those runners ran 3.1, 13.1 or 26.2 miles, they got out for whatever reason they had and ran. That in itself was enough to make every runner at the race a champion.