FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | Todd Wangsgard | Long Distance
I did it. Saturday, October 17th, marked my first full marathon experience!
While I enjoy the sport of triathlon, especially cycling, and do not hesitate to jump on my bike and ride 100+ miles, it is something entirely different to pound the pavement in a long distance run. Prior to Saturday, the longest I had run was 13 miles. I know. You experienced runners out there are thinking, “You’ve got to be crazy!” (You’re probably right.)
When I got serious about the idea of running a marathon, I immediately printed off the suggested training schedule at the race’s official web site. I knew I needed to work up to distances in excess of 20 miles, about 3 weeks prior to the big day. However, I let other things get in the way.
Race day was chilly. A friend and I arrived downtown at 6:00 a.m. in the rainy and windy darkness. Fortunately the rain stopped just before the race began, and the mid-40s temperature was rather comfortable once we got started. The scenery, frequent water stations, and abundant and enthusiastic bystanders were so distracting, I hardly knew I had completed the first 13 miles. It appeared I would finish the entire 26.2 miles in about 3 hours and 45 minutes. I was feeling great!
It wasn’t until after mile 20 that I decided to walk for a little bit. Big mistake.
Soon after I began a deliberate walking pace, my right knee sent a very immediate and painful message to the rest of my body. “I’m done!” I honestly thought I had torn a ligament and had just now felt it, for the first time. I knew this was the end of my wishful 4 hour goal. I would either hobble along the remaining 5 ½ miles, finishing in around 6 hours, or I would need to stop on the spot and wait for a team of compassionate volunteers to haul me off.
After about four or five extremely painful attempts to start running again, I was able to sustain a jogging pace that didn’t bring me to tears. This leads me to my second lesson. I could NOT stop again and expect to come remotely close to finishing under 4 hours. I knew I had to keep running the distance or my goal would be postponed, until next time.
I soon watched the 3:35 pacers pass me by. Then the 3:40 group. The 3:45’s strode by. The 3:50’s. Finally, here came the 3:55’s. I had to hang close, or at least try to keep them in sight, if I wanted to finish under 4 hours. What a reward it was to see my wife and four kids cheering me on as I hobbled across the finish line at 3:56:59!
I was extremely lucky that my body parts were forgiving enough to allow me to go the distance. My muscles and tendons had not been adequately hardened by the necessary distances required by reasonable training. I also found new reserves of will-power and perseverance during those 15 minutes of deliberation and pain.
I can point to several times throughout my life where both luck and perseverance have played out, as I’m sure you can too. Each exists in a very different realm from the other. Luck is clearly in my Circle of Concern. I don’t control it, but sometimes I test it, even when I know it’s not the wisest call. Will-power is completely in my Circle of Influence. No matter how hard things get, I can always dig a little deeper.
Whether we’re plagued by economic down-turn, controversy and corruption, or overall pessimism and malaise, there is always something you and I can do to pull through. Don’t count on luck. Search deep for those reserves of will-power and drive that you know are there. You’re not running the race alone. And there are masses of your biggest fans on the curb rooting you on. But you’ve got to get you to the finish line. See you there!