Fast forward to 2012 and I found myself wanting to return to running and the next thing I knew, I had signed up for a half marathon. Yes, I paid money to run 13.1 miles. I found a training schedule and the running regimen began. The first couple of days I didn't run far or fast but I focused on the fact that I was running. During the weeks of training, I gradually found myself looking forward to the runs. It became a time to let go of worries, struggles, and concerns and focus on me. I learned to listen to my body and felt my body respond to the mental pep talks and my legs carried me mile after mile. I often ran in the early morning and watched the sun rise over the mountains and felt gratitude for life and my physical body. For the ability to move. To run. To feel pain and soreness. To make progress.
The day of the race came and I was surprisingly calm. I knew I had prepared and told myself it was just like any other long run(except for the fact that I now had hundreds of people running with me and there was a 6 hour time limit.) The race started and the first 7 miles went quickly and then the doubts came.
"I could hide in a bush and call my parents to meet me somewhere."
"Ugh. My legs hurt and I can't keep going."
"I 'm sure I can walk the rest and still finish in under 6 hours..."
Each time a negative thought came, I forced it out and focused on something positive. Several friends sent me text messages and one sent a motivational video which definitely helped me as I ran miles 7-9. I focused on each step and did my best to enjoy the beautiful canyon and changing leaves as I pushed myself closer to the finish line. I thought of ancestors who once lived in that area and felt my pace quicken and my legs move with more determination. As I approached mile 12, I saw a couple of home owners turn on sprinkles and I smiled and thanked them for the kind gesture as I ran through the water and laughed while others also found a brief respite from the run.
Soon I heard people yelling and I saw the finish line and I looked around to find my parents and then I heard it- my dad's whistle. And the sound of the whistle and hearing my name as I crossed the finish line made it all worth it. Even more than that, I had set and accomplished a goal. A hard and difficult goal.
I ran for me...and won.