Let’s get one thing straight: “I did not run”.
Now that we have this out of the way…
The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon is one of the top 10 marathons in the USA. Professional athletes, beginners, runners from all the continents travelled to the twin cities last weekend to take part in this amazingly inspiring event. And though many did it to win the Grand prize and dethrone the reigning champions, Dominic Ondoro (Kenya, 2016 male winner) and Jane Kibii (Kenya, 2016 female winner), there were a wide variety of inspiring reasons why people participated, according to my survey:
- It was on my bucket list
- I wanted to do something that I was proud of
- It would be the greatest challenge of my life yet
- I love running
There are a lot more inspirational reasons why people run marathons. For my part, I was among the crowds of happy and enthusiastic cheerers on the sideline, and here are 5 key lessons that I learned, from attending my very first official marathon…
Preparation is Key.
Practice Makes it Perfect. And this goes without saying, especially for a physically demanding event like the Twin cities marathon. Training is crucial for any challenge or undertaking you want to dive into. Whether you’re looking into starting a new job, picking up a new hobby, learning a new skill, whatever it is: it takes time, dedication, patience and training. Secondly…
Forget About the Speed. Focus on Endurance…
Some might argue this for a while, but let’s look at it from a “sustainability” perspective. If you use all your energy, your drive, your resources for the first mile, then you might not have enough left for the remaining 25 miles. That is why it is critical develop endurance. Endurance creates habits, that create consistency. Sometimes in life, it seems like it is better to get somewhere faster than to climb step by step and develop our endurance. But stop and think: the more you develop endurance and consistency, the more the methods you are using turn into habits (repetition) and the faster you become.
… And Resilience.
Wikipedia defines (psychological) resilience as the “ability to successfully adapt to life tasks in the face of social disadvantage or highly adverse conditions”. I was dumbstruck to see that people who I did not expect in such a highly demanding physical undertaking were well present and close to the finish line: children (who seemed younger than 10), physically impaired, wheelchair-bound and people with disability. This just goes to say that while society might put a halt or a break on what you can or cannot do based on your a) background, b) social status, c) gender or d) race (or any other parameter), at the end of the day, the only limitations that matter are those you put on yourself.
‘Wonder woman” doing her thing.
And even for physically fit people, resilience is very important. When I spoke to Erin, one of the Twin Cities Marathon finishers, she told me that it was her second marathon and at multiple times, she felt like giving up. She felt like stopping, going back. But she didn’t. She just had to continue., regardless of the fact that she still had a lot of miles to go. And at the end, the feeling of having accomplished that challenge was for her, something “indescribable”.
You’re Never Too Old, and It’s Never Too Late.
I was amazed to see more than one 70+ years old folks running the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon; and even better: close to the finish line! What type of lesson can you learn from that? All kinds of lessons! It goes without saying, those elderly people did not wake up one day and decided to run a marathon the next day. I would assume they had a dream, a desire, a vision and decided to go for it. So you might not be interested in running a marathon “ever”, but don’t be discouraged to chase your dreams because “it’s too late”. There is no such thing. Girl please.
A courageous “Viking’ at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, 2017.
You need friends. No, great friends.
There is no greater feeling than achieving something overwhelmingly challenging and seeing the people who love you the most share that moment with you. When I looked at the faces of the marathon runners who saw their family members cheering for them along the twin cities marathon route, I nearly broke into tears myself. And I could see their sadness and physical pain transform into an emotion of joy and fuel a “I can do it” attitude!
“Nora’s friends” cheering at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, 2017
I saw family members cheering, friends cheering, and even total strangers cheering for all marathon runners! One of the marathon cheerers, who had come to support her friend Nora (first time marathon runner), told me that for these reasons, the twin cities marathon is her favourite time of the year. Doesn’t that show that there is still some goodness out there in the world?
Nora’s friends cheering at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, 2017
So back to the opening statement of this blog post: “I did not run. But I might, someday”.
Me at a Fundraising run in September. Minneapolis.
Have you ever ran a marathon? Do you know someone who did? Share your experience in the comments section below!