“Run for a reason.” The slogan of the Standard Chartered Marathon.
What was my reason? Well, I had at least a good 2 hours to think about it.
Back in October, I signed up for the half marathon with my new roommate and another friend. Unfortunately, my roommate had to drop out and my friend and I could never coordinate a time to run together.
I added these to the list of excuses to not run:
I have knee problems and I don’t want them to get worse.
If my roommate can’t run, then I shouldn’t either.
It’s hard to motivate myself to train alone.
After going through these and other reasons not to race, I started training.
I am the type of person who likes to do a lot of things all at once, which can be good and bad. Sometimes I’ll start something on my own because it seems like a great idea at the time (i.e. a new blog, an art project, etc.), but because I like to do so many things, I usually get distracted and start doing something else instead, thereby never finishing what I started.
Running for the past few months has helped me regain focus and structure in my life. My New Year’s resolution was to “do less.” I get so caught up wanting to be a part of everything and wanting to do everything that I end up achieving very little. Running and training gave me structure and new way to start my days with a more positive outlook.
I had days where I hated waking up. I hated getting out of my warm bed. I hated changing into my gym clothes. I hated going out into the cold. I hated the 15 minute walk uphill to Bowen Road where I could run on a flat surface for 45 minutes to an hour. But not once did I hate the feeling of having finished a morning or afternoon run.
Yesterday morning when I woke up for the race, I felt a mix of excitement, nervousness and doubt.
The day before, my friend asked, “What’s your goal time?” and I said, “To be honest, all I want to do is finish the race.” I think the way I answered is very telling of my self-perception – I often sell myself short. When it comes to goals, dating, friendships, career and other things, I’ve realized that this has become my attitude – I set my expectations low. I don’t always give myself enough credit and end up going after things that I’m (too) comfortable with.
So, my starting goal was just to finish the race. But as I ran, I started making up little goals for myself along the way…follow that guy in the neon yellow shirt – catch up to him and pass him…pass the girl with the pink stripes…don’t drink anymore water until you get through the tunnel – you don’t need it now…don’t stop, you’re so close to the end! You don’t need that porta-potty! Run this mile 10 seconds faster than the last…run the next one 15 seconds faster than the previous one…
I ended up finishing the race at around 1 hour 58 minutes. This is the farthest consecutive distance that I’ve ever run in my life! I didn’t stop and walk once. A couple of friends told me that they would wait for me at the end – I told them to expect me to finish around 11 a.m., but I was done a bit before 10:30. “You’re done already?!” my friend texted me. She was as surprised as I.
What I learned from racing and training is this:
There are always going to be obstacles getting in the your way (e.g. other runners, other people, cones) and there are always going to be temptations on the sidelines (porter potties, water checkpoints, bananas), but you have to stay focused and run past them. These things will distract you, but you have to remember to stay focused. Motivate yourself by setting achievable goals along the way. It makes the end goal easier to get to.
Lastly, don’t sell yourself short. When it comes to self-expectations, be realistic, but push yourself a little harder, aim a little higher and go for what you deserve and nothing less.
Above all, do these things for yourself. Go for what you want selfishly, whole-heartedly and genuinely.
“Run for a reason.” Run for yourself.