Brookshires Hero Run Half Marathon – A lesson for all of us

I signed up several months ago for the Brookshires Hero Run Half Marathon held in Bossier City.   While I have run some 5K’s, 10K’s, and a ten-mile trail run, I had never run anything close to 13.1 miles.  While I train regularly, I search out a new physical challenge once a quarter to help motivate me during those training sessions.  At fifty-eight years old, I thought I had better get this half-marathon in soon, as it wouldn’t get any easier.

The race was this past weekend.  I will say it was one of the most organized events that I have ever seen.  The volunteers did an outstanding job and made the day a very memorable event for everyone.  They raised a significant amount for first responders in the area (hero theme).  While I can now check that race off my bucket list, there were several key life lessons that I want to share from this experience.

  • The power of others in our life:  I ran many a long run during my training leading up to the race.  While I never actually ran 13.1 miles in preparation, I ran many six to ten mile runs and ran a twelve-mile run at the end of my training leading up to the race.  All my training was done alone.  I ran early in the morning with just my phone to track distance and time.  I never ran much better than an 11 minute per mile pace during the entire training period.  Saturday, I ran a pace under 10 minutes for the entire 13.1 miles.  The only differences were the people encouraging us along the road and the other runners.  We can make a big impact on others just by sharing words of encouragement and, at times, running alongside side of them in life.  It makes a difference!  
  • Commitment means never:  Several people asked me if I would walk if I got tired or cramped during the race.  I would have to be near death and need to get out of the way for me to walk.  Walking was not an option.  If I had this option as a possibility, even a remote one, I would have been tempted several times.  There were plenty of folks along the way taking this option (nothing wrong with them walking – not an option for me).  When we establish values in our lives, those values should be firm.  Don’t allow room for compromise regardless of the situation.  We will never regret sticking to our values in times of trials and temptation.
  • When no one is watching matters:  I routinely get up at 5AM to pray and then train.  It’s normally dark when I start my day outside.  I would often run the long hill in the cemetery near our home or go to the track at Tech to help my feet (often hurt running on roads too much).   In either case, I was normally alone running in the dark.  A ten-mile run around the track is 40 laps.  That run can be pretty taxing on the mind and body.  No one would know if I cut it short.  No one would know if I stopped to take a break.  I firmly believe it’s what I did on those dark mornings that enabled me to get through that half-marathon.  Whether we are performing a routine task at work, studying for a test, working out in the offseason, or doing that “one more” of whatever it is to prepare us for tomorrow, the willingness to push through when no one is around makes all the difference in the world.  Success in life is often earned on those dark early mornings or late nights when no one is watching.  
  • Just focus on the next step:  I told someone before the race that 13.1 miles seemed like an impossibility to me just a few months ago.  I am not a natural runner by any means.  Rather than focusing on running 13.1 miles, I would focus on running one mile, 13 times.  That may sound odd, but I knew I could run a mile.  It was just a matter of running that mile and then running the next one.  The finish line was never my goal.  The goal was just the next mile.  Similar in life, we don’t have to figure everything out at one time.  Just focus on the next step.  What’s the next step in your journey?  You may not have the final plan and that’s ok.  Just focus on the next step.  Life is a lot simpler one step (mile) at a time.
  • Comparison is a waste of energy:  I saw some elite runners that would run the race in around one hour.  I saw some others that would take well over two hours.  There were athletes of all abilities and ages running this race.  It would be a waste of time and energy for me to compare myself to the elite runners.  It would also be a waste of ability not to push myself to be my best even if there would be people far behind me.  Comparing ourselves to others just leads to insecurity on one end and complacency on the other end.  We would all be better off in every aspect of our life if we could avoid the comparison trap.  

Those are just five quick insights from a two-hour run that taught me quite a lot.  The race was not the purpose but just a motivating goal along the way.  I got up Sunday morning and began training for that next challenge.  I just need to identify that next challenge.

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