The Tipping Point.
I just signed up to run my first Marathon in San Francisco on July 31st, 2016. Immediately after confirming, I found myself thinking, “What in the world am I doing?” First off, I just committed to running 26.2 miles in what is widely considered one of the hilliest cities on the West Coast. Also, am I really ready for this?
As a teen, I struggled with body image. For several years, I battled an eating disorder that I overcame only once I became pregnant with my first child. Following pregnancy & birth, I gained a newfound sense of awe for the complexities of the human body. My first birthing experience empowered me in ways that I never imagined. Suddenly the body that I once critiqued so harshly, appeared strong and purposeful. I went on to have 3 more natural labors and births and found that though I had a deep sense of appreciation for my body as a whole, I needed to strengthen it through healthy avenues such as mindfulness and a dedicated exercise routine.
Because though I developed an appreciation for my body, I’d also gained many unhealthy pounds.
Early on, I didn’t have money to spend on gym memberships, nor did I have the luxury of leaving my young children for long periods of time. So I purchased a used treadmill & committed to running a few miles before sunrise or long after my children were tucked into bed. As they got older, I began to venture outdoors for milage and that was the beginning of my running transformation.
Prior to last year, I had never been able to run more than 3 miles at a time. I tried a 5k once, and was completely winded. I figured long distance running was not for me. I wasn’t quite that caliber when it came to athletic endeavors.
Then I went through a particularly difficult part of my life, one that literally caused me to reevaluate everything that I thought I was. One night, while lying on my bed, wiping tears and fighting a ruthless bout of anxiety, I decided I needed to get my shit together. It was time to fight back.
So I signed up for a half-marathon without even fully believing that I could meet that goal.
13.1 miles when I could barely make it though three? I was skeptical. But my desire for focus and drive trumped my self-doubt. I began to train in the middle of a hot, dry Northern California summer.
When self-doubt hits during running it’s damn near paralyzing. But once you realize that doubt is but a mere mental construct, you know that it’s possible to defeat. The first time I encountered doubt during a run, it was an incredibly lonely feeling. With nothing but the pavement, the sweltering heat, and my own labored breath, finishing a race seemed an impossibility.
But much like life, you either push through or you risk collapse. I kept pushing through.
Little by little, the miles added up. I carefully tracked my progress, and was pleasantly surprised to see that I had inched myself up to an average of five miles per run. Slowly, that number increased. As did my confidence in my ability to meet the goal.
I’m not going to lie. I was incredibly proud and emotional the day that I finished my first half-marathon the following October.
I’d also be lying if I said that I’m approaching a full-marathon free of doubt. I know I can do it, I’m just not entirely sure that I really want to undertake the time and commitment that it takes to complete the rigorous training.
If there’s anything in life that helps me process things as I try to approach new challenges, it’s writing. Which is why I’ve started to periodically document my journey to 26.2. I’m hoping to kickstart my motivation.
Yesterday, I officially began my challenge. I have 16 weeks to get in shape for the 26.2 mile endeavor. I’m a bit nervous, but equally excited.
Here’s what I know: If you are able to train and complete a race that you once thought was impossible, then you begin reconsidering who you are as a person. You stop believing that you’re weak. And when the negative self narrative starts to creep in, the best way to silence it is to lace up, get out, and pound those doubts right into the earth.