photo by katiebordner licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
by Julie Stutzman
The shift from nervous, last-minute stretching to the first steps of the race was awkward and uncomfortable. As my feet took me closer to the start line, my pace and heart quickened. Can I really run the Chicago Half Marathon? Did my training really prepare me for this?
My eyes surveyed the crowd once more. The demographics of the equally nervous runners around me surprised me. Yes, there were the stereotypical “runners” with obvious runner DNA pulsing in their blood. But then there were people like me whose doubt of survival was written all over my face. If they can do this, I can too.
The pain didn’t seem to set in until mile eight, and it wasn’t until mile 10 that my pain threshold was shattered. I spent the next 30 minutes putting one heavy, blistered foot in front of the other. Details of the final minutes were blurry. Seconds took minutes to pass.
Finally, I rounded the corner to the finish line. My stomach was upset and empty. I swallowed hard. I could no longer feel anything, and my brain was dead. Three. Two. One. Done. I was running so slow by the end that slowing to walk did not feel too different.
I did it.
12 weeks of summer heat training.
200 miles of pushing myself further than the day before.
All for one race. 13.1 mile race = 2 hours 18 minutes 59 seconds.
After crossing the finish line, I walked around in a complete daze. I was surrounded by volunteers handing me things, and before I knew it, I was in a difficult situation of holding too much stuff, sweating profusely and stumbling unbalanced on unsteady legs. A medal? Check. A water bottle? Yes, please! A banana? No thanks. A granola bar? Thank you. A bag of chips? What? No way! A towel? Prayers answered.
In untainted disbelief I stumbled my way to a grassy area and wilted to the ground. Did I really just do it? Whoa, what was that? That was horrible. That was great! I did it, but now what. Either way, the race was pretty legit.
For me, the race was about pushing myself beyond my preconceived brick wall, my pain threshold. I wanted to dedicate myself to something and succeed. I had done smaller races—5Ks—in the past, but this accomplishment trumped all. While the race wasn’t perfect, my body carried me faster and farther than I ever thought possible and I was happy with how I had done.
By pushing pass your comfort zone, you can accomplish bigger and better things. This can be applied to many areas in your life—your life as an employee, a family member, a friend, a student and as a volunteer. When you think you can’t handle a busy schedule any longer or can’t find any time to volunteer, push yourself and see what you can achieve.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments?