As you might recall, I was talked into my first running race by a friend 5+ years ago. I thought it was a one-time thing, until it wasn’t, and this is how my running journey started.
Ever since I started running, I’ve tried to talk other people into running. (We all do this, right? It’s a natural thing to do, wanting to share something we love with the people around us.)
Earlier this year, I had convinced my friend Tanja to run a half marathon with me. Technically, it was a dare and Tanja is ambitious and crazy enough to accept (most) challenges. The time frame was fairly short, but nonetheless, she started a training plan and completed her first half marathon in April. We both ran it as a virtual race, as the one that we were signed up for, got canceled. (Sounds familiar?)
And then last weekend, my sister ran her first half marathon.
Not even 6 months ago, she laughed at me and called me crazy. With 2 kids and a full-time job as a teacher (with no fixed working hours), she always claimed that there was no way to keep a regular fitness routine, let alone train for a half marathon. I get it, there are only so many hours in a day (but I also know that many, many moms find the time to train when they want to.)
When I told her that the San Francisco Marathon Event (which I’ve attended for the half marathon distance every year for the last 4 years) was going to take place during the time when she (and the rest of my family) were supposed to visit, I dared her to run this race with me.
She laughed and said “no”.
I kept poking, and she – apparently – started thinking about it.
I poked more, until she jokingly asked, what would happen if she hypothetically gave this a try and then couldn’t finish the course within the time limit.
I joked back that the sweep bus would pick her up.
Then I promised that this wasn’t going to happen.
She kept making excuses of why she wouldn’t be able to do it, the stupidest reason was that she thought that she wouldn’t be able to keep up with me. That was obviously so not the point and I just kept talking about how that would be the experience of a lifetime to run a race in San Francisco together.
Ha! And that’s when she took the bait.
She then asked if I could suggest a training plan for her (only so that she could take a look at what that would look like, of course).
Long story short: she started following the training plan (run/walk intervals) in March thanks to Corona, which afforded her some unexpected free pockets of time. She wasn’t able to completely stick to the training plan, BUT she kept putting herself out there and, believe it or not, on Sunday, she completed the half marathon distance for the first time.
The SF Marathon would have been two weekends ago. Obviously because of Corona, her trip and the SF Marathon got canceled, so we couldn’t run the race together after all, but she was determined to run the distance after all the work she put in.
So, out of solidarity, and because we really were supposed to run this race together, I set out for my own 13.1 miles on Saturday morning. I thought, if there was any small outside chance that she contemplated bailing out the last minute, this would motivate her to follow through, because hey, we all know how intimidating the first race is, especially if you’re running it as a virtual race all by yourself.
Luckily, our dad agreed to accompany her on his bike and function as a mobile water station, because I stressed how important it was for her to drink and refuel along the way.
Her biggest fear was that she was going to hit a wall some time during the race (as she had during one of the longer practice runs) and that she wouldn’t be able to finish. I emphasized how important it was that she paced herself at the beginning, that she drank water and that she really didn’t pay much attention to pace (which everyone is bound to do, of course), but effort.
Since this was her first half marathon, it was going to be an automatic PR either way!
And I think she kind of outdid herself. Even though she said she was a little disappointed with her finish time (don’t we all always wonder if we could have pushed ourselves just a tad more?), she ran a perfect race and finished strong.
I am so thrilled with her time and so, so proud of her. She would have easily beaten the SF half marathon course limit of 3 hours! No sweep bus necessary (not that it’s a bad thing)!
I am telling you this story, because I want you to believe in yourself. I want you to believe that you can do hard things. And I want to remind you: never say never. What at some point seems impossible, might totally be in reach when you put your mind to it.
There will always be an opportunity to surprise yourself.