Monday, October 24, 2011

Hitting the Wall

Regarding the ability to stay motivated during a career change and how important it is to have the proper support network in place, I am reminded of hitting the wall during the 2003 NYC Marathon.

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, about my physique that suggests marathon runner. I had heard a lot about athletes hitting the wall but had never hit it myself and I certainly wasn't prepared for it. It was miles 18-22. Jeff Galloway suggested putting your first name on your shirt so that the spectators could shout your name. I must have heard my name 1,000 times or more that day, which helped a lot. But it wasn't any of those people that actually made the biggest impact. Turns out, it was one person way up First Ave., standing alone on a corner, holding a white poster board with "You Can Do It" written in black marker. If I heard my name 1,000 times, I saw 10,000 signs many of which were very well done. Yet, the one sign that meant the  most couldn't have taken more than 60 seconds to make.

I had seen my family and friends on First Ave. at about mile 16 and I was doing OK. Within 2 miles, however, it all fell apart. My body started to ache, knees especially, my emotions sunk, and I was in a lot of pain. The wall came upon me very suddenly. I didn't realize what was happening. All I knew was that I could barely take another step. Thanks again to Jeff Galloway's book I had $20 for a cab in my pocket in case I needed it and boy did I ever. I almost quit.

And I started to reach for the money, deciding that I couldn't possibly continue, I saw this person and that sign. "You Can Do It". 4 words. I don't even think they were capitalized!  I said it to myself. I took the next step. And the next one. Moments after that I looked to the sidewalk and saw my bother-in-law and sister-in-law who I didn't even know were going to be there. Somehow they had found me in the back of a sea of 33,000 people. I think I may have broken down and cried and for a few minutes they ran with me, again providing the support I needed at the right time just like the sign. I was still in pain but I knew I could continue.

As much as you train, plan and prepare by getting yourself ready and putting your support network in place, sometimes you just can't predict from where that one key thing will come. Just get started and put your faith in yourself, and others will be there when you need them. There's a picture of me at mile 23 and I am smiling. Somehow I had made it over the wall and was running again and smiling. If the person holding that sign is out there, thanks so much. You have no idea how important your presence was that day. Had I not seen you I wouldn't have made it to see my bother-in-law and sister-in-law and I wouldn't have finished. Crazy the way things happen isn't it?

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