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The Courage to Start…again

July 14, 2010

Last November I took on my greatest athletic challenge to date – running the Athens Classic Marathon.  I had trained the past six months in order to complete this challenge. And moving closer and closer to the date I would visualize reaching the finish line as I trained. The vision occasionally brought me to the brink of tears and I would try to concentrate on something else.  I really wanted to finish.  The day of the marathon approached. The cold temperatures, endless hills and lack of properly stocked water/aid stations sealed my fate. After waiting in the cold rain for three hours before race time my body began to lock up and complain within the first kilometre of the marathon. My body protested but my stubbornness won out. I was going very slowly, but I was going. What began with a chance for success ended at the 30 km marker when the race organizers opened the road to vehicles and forced me off the road.  I was devastated. Had I failed? Yes. Was I a failure? I wasn’t so sure.

This experience abruptly stopped me from running. My treadmill has sat annoyingly in my living room as a constant reminder. Mostly it has collected dust, clothes, and other exercise equipment. I tried to run again once in February but I was still too angry and disappointed to keep it up.

Yesterday I found the courage to go for a short run outside. It felt good. As much as some of the marathon training runs were really tough I had enjoyed the routine and the excuse to get outside and push myself.  Yesterday’s run felt much of the same. I remembered the marathon and I am still disappointed in its result but I was feeling far less emotional about the experience during the run.

John ‘The Penguin’ Bingham said it best: “During our lives as runners, we face a moment of truth every time we put on our running shoes. In fact, it may be that the most important truth comes just before we decide to put on our running shoes. In that powder flash of decision, we affirm our identities as runners.”

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