Because I didn't think I could

When I drone on at work boring people to tears with accounts of my latest ridiculously long run, the most common question I get is “Why?” As in, why would anyone want to run a marathon. Why would anyone willingly choose to do that? Why me? Why now? Why ever? Why?
In the beginning, my goal in running a marathon was just to continue to up the ante burning more calories. If running burns calories, I figured running more burns more. I also liked the idea of having a goal to keep me on track so I wouldn’t just return to old habits and be in the Whataburger drive thru sucking down Dr. Pepper. I liked the idea that I’m headed towards 40 this year and that this is a great last hurrah to usher me into it. And I really liked the idea that my running was a road I was traveling down progressing from couch to 5K to 10K to half marathon and then full marathon.

Then somewhere along the way, all the extra running led to extra eating and I had to let go of the idea of trying to lose my Jelly Belly while marathon training. Then everything became about supporting the marathon training. Eat more calories so I have energy to run. Rest my legs between runs instead of cross training. I began to look at it as a finish line I was headed towards. There was life before the marathon and then life after the marathon when my normal life would resume.

And then the long runs got ridiculously long. So long they were super intimidating and every fiber of my being looked for an excuse to avoid them. But I made myself do them anyway.
And somewhere along the way I realized that it hadn’t been about the calories or the last hurrah or the path I’m traveling. All along it had been that I didn’t think I could do it. And that’s what had been driving me. That’s what had been getting me up off my lazy duff to haul my butt around the park on Sunday morning. That’s what had been seeing me through the last mile when my calves felt like Jello. That’s what had been driving me to not let my many complaints get the best of me. That’s the guiding force that didn’t let me stray from my path for six long months of training.

I didn’t think I could.

I guess maybe part of me was scared I would quit. Just like I was scared when I first started my health kick and losing weight and worried I’d quit like I had countless times before. That wasn't my first rodeo.  I'd tried and failed more than I can count.  I didn’t know if this time would be different or if it would be the time that  would finally stick. I wanted so badly for it to stick but those other times I’d wanted it badly, too. Or so I thought.  

And I have two kids and a job that requires my butt behind a desk 40 hours a week and a husband whose face I like to see and I just didn't see how I'd find the time or energy.  It just seemed like such a big and difficult task.  So I just didn't know if I could do it.  It just seemed beyond me and beyond what I'm capable of.

But so did losing weight.  So did any of the running goals I'd set before.  So I just did what I'd been doing all along on this health kick.  I came up with the best plan I could and just committed myself to following it.  I made sure the plan included breathing room for weeks where life would get in the way and reasonable expectations not epic ridiculous mountains to climb 7 days a week.  And then I plugged away taking it one run at a time.  And every day I headed out on a run I thought today would be the day I was finally going to quit.  But it wasn’t.  Again and again it wasn't.  And here I am with my marathon 3 days away.

Go figure. 

I can do it.  That's what I now know.  Because it's finally sunk in.  I know in the pit of my stomach that I will get to that finish line.

I’m still scared.  Scared of how badly my legs are going to hurt the last 2 miles.  Scared of how many times I’m going to have to talk myself out of quitting. Scared of how alone I’ll feel out there. Scared of doing something I’ve never done and not knowing what to expect. Scared I will be the slowest of the slowest of slow out there.  Scared of how frantic my brain will feel by the 4th hour of running. Scared of my toenails potentially falling off. Scared of blisters. Scared of chafing. Scared of using multiple port o potties in one day. Scared of how scared I’ll feel. Just scared.
But I know I’ll get there despite that.  This girl.
This girl that was 204.4 pounds a year and a half ago.  She’s scared but she’s going to get out there and do it anyway. By herself. One step at a time. She’s scared but she’ll see you at that finish line. She’ll be a weepy mess but she’ll be there. Because she didn’t think she could and she was wrong.

In the last 3 weeks I’ve been reading one last marathon training book and it’s mainly about mental preparation. My natural instinct was to resist all the cheesy positive thinking crap but I decided my natural instinct was to lay on the couch and never train for a marathon in the first place. So maybe it’s okay to ignore my natural instincts once in awhile.

It has a section about practicing concentration and the ability to consciously focus your mind. Again, I thought it was dumb but did it anyway. I downloaded a free app called Lumosity and do it once a day. It takes all of 3 minutes. I figure even if it’s a ridiculous waste of time, it can’t hurt for 2 weeks.

The book also has a section about thinking up things to distract yourself with while you run. So now I have an ABC game all ready to go where I pick a topic and then go through the alphabet naming things that start with each different letter. Then there’s a section about creating a video in your head that you can sort of play of what your marathon will be like. Mine is a long street stretching out before me and when that starts to feel lonely I picture seeing my husband and kids waiting for me up ahead and then I smile and run toward them. And I’d be a nut to not picture crossing the finish line. So I do. Strong and happy to be done.

And finally, one of the tricks in the book is to write a paragraph I can repeat to myself to build my confidence. You repeat it to yourself while training to convince yourself it’s true. You repeat it during your day to day life to reinforce it. And then you can use it as a mantra to chant to yourself during your darkest marathon hour. Even writing it was powerful for me. Because I’m a girl that talks to herself saying things like, “You can do this.” But the book encourages you to feel empowered and make it “I can do this” instead. Because the ability to do it is inside you not inside someone else. Truer words have never been written. Because no one else is going to run that marathon for me. Just me.

Below is my paragraph. I will be chanting it over and over again Sunday morning. I will chant it loud. I will chant it soft. I will chant it until I believe every word. I’d say it’s going to get me to the finish line but it’s not. Because I’m going to get myself to that finish line. Me and my own 2 feet. 
I can do this. I can do hard things. I came back from 204.4 pounds. I didn’t quit then and I’m not going to quit now. Because I am strong enough to do this. I may not be the fastest. I may not look great doing it. But so what. Because I can do this. And that’s amazing.  I will not stop.  I am a marathoner.


Cara said...

Yes you CAN do this! Can't wait to hear all about the marathon:) I'll hear next week if I made the Grandmas half marathon (it's a lottery) for June. *keeping fingers crossed*

Meredith said...

Oh my goodness! Good luck with the marathon-you will kill it! Can't wait to hear about it.

misssrobin said...

Thank you for your beautiful and inspirational post. I can do hard things. I needed that reminder today.

Happy Sharefest! And you look wonderful.

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