So yesterday’s planned run was a bust. It was cold and raining and the last thing I needed to do is kick-off my training by going for a run that would result in possibly catching a cold…
Ok. These are excuses. I admit it. I could have run on the treadmill but I HATE running on the treadmill. I hate the treadmill. I hate the treadmill. There I said it. (P.S. I need to STOP saying that!).
This speaks to the power of words. Not just the things others say to us – directly and indirectly – but what we say to ourselves.
When I ran the Boston Marathon last year (ran/walked/shuffled), it was AMAZING how many people-complete strangers-would shout words of encouragement as we ran along the race path, tackled yet another hill, had another surge of feeling like giving up.
It was so cool. People said things like “You’ve got this blue shirt!” “Way to go red shoes!!!” “You can do this!!!” “You are almost there!!!” “Don’t give up–you’ve GOT this”!!!
Those words from people I will probably never see again, will stay with me forever. Thank you Mr. Raybans. Thank you 8 year old kid with the oranges.
I made some friends during that race. On the bus ride to the starting line and with some of the other slow pokes that were running at about the same snail’s pace I was. We encouraged each other when we all at some point wanted to give up. Believe me, the thought earnestly crosses your mind more often then you’d like—especially when you are not exactly in (ahem) marathon shape.
Those of us tortoises at the back of the pack and fell behind the slowest time before support was cut off (ouch!) had the lovely experience of being consistently offered to quit. They had different vans coming through regularly offering us rides to the finish line. They meant well, and were following the rules of the race that we were all aware of, but talk about the power of words AND actions that were demotivating to those of us that needed words of motivation the most (not in the right shape, not at the right weight, struggling to walk/run, the list goes on…).
The speech that was the toughest was from the last van, and the gentleman told us the following (I’m paraphrasing because I really needed to block him out):
“This is your last chance to get a ride to the finish line. You will be allowed to finish the race as it is you right and choice to do so. Please know that you will no longer have support. We cannot guarantee that there will be water and gatorade stations available to you. The medical stations will be closed. You will be on your own from this point forward do you understand the conditions under which you continue this race from this point forward?”
Fortunately, I met a friend on the course, I’m going to call her…Jane… since I didn’t reach out to her before posting this and that would be rude to use her name without her consent. Jane and I ran/walked/shuffled/limped the last 10 miles of that race together. She is mother of 4, and of Irish descent, so if you have ever been to Boston, you probably can imagine the words she wanted to say (LOVE YOU JANE!). Instead of giving that gentleman a piece of her mind, she just looked at me and I kindly said to the gentleman with a smile :
“We completely understand sir, thank you for letting us know and please let them know at the finish line that they need to keep two medals for us because we are going to finish this thing. Even if we have to crawl”.
He looked at me as if to say “yeah right”. And Jane looked at him as if to say “F*ck yeah we will!”. For the rest of that race, we lifted each other up. Shared stories of why we were running that race for our respective charities and for ourselves. No less than 50 times each, we said out loud and to ourselves: ” We are going to finish this race. We are going to get that medal” a la “George Wapner at 4:30″. Yep. Sure did.
Sure enough, they started packing up the course. The last mile marker Jane and I saw was at Mile 13. I had only lived in Massachusetts for less than two years at that point and my phone was dead. So, I Jane and I were in it together no matter what.
So we last 300 runners or so (actually, I really have no idea how many were left-so I’m guessing here) were on our own. A bit dejected, but, determined.
If you haven’t run a marathon before, a lot of things can happen–no matter how well you prepare— that can take you out. Dehydration. Water sickness. Muscle cramps. Injury. The list goes on. And around mile 10 or so, you start seeing more and more people who came out of the gate too quickly, or due to sheer misfortune, that end up in medical tents, wrapped in the shiny metal blankets they give you at the end – getting treated or getting rehydrated. I saw way more than a few sinewy, seasoned runners in those Med tents. Done. Way to early -especially given their physical condition. So if THEY couldn’t finish the race, what the hell was I thinking that I could? Even with all of that bad mojo, there were still some positive words and actions down the home stretch. People in the communities that stayed until the end with water, gatorade, oranges, popsicles, pretzels, etc. People who stayed along the entire race course STILL saying “you’ve got this” until the very end. My friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen in person for 20 years who camped out with her family FOR HOURS on Heartbreak Hill with a bright pink sign with my nickname waiting for me to get to the hill. And, held me up after I threw up (much love to you ALWAYS JTD!!!).
So despite all of those defeating words, sights and actions, and thanks to the strangers (and friends!) who stayed on with us until WE decided we had finished, we kept on.
And, Jane and I finished The Boston Marathon. Together. And you bet your ass we both got that medal.
How many times have you heard defeating words from your friends, family and/or loved ones that you care about — and those who are supposed to care about you? From co-workers, colleagues, caregivers (you’d be surprised) and even strangers? How many times have you said them? Thought them? How many times have your actions reflected that kind of negativity?
You see, sometimes people choose to do something, or go for something that is outside of their comfort zone. Or, maybe goes against who they naturally are at that time (or period) because they are willing to do what it takes to be who they want to be. Or to change into who they want to be. Or were meant to be. It may not make sense to you and it might barely make sense to them, but if that goal, that dream, that desire is positive and is truly what they want… support them. Your words have the power to build things up. They also have the power to destroy. Your actions do too. Even your unspoken intentions do.
So if you have been that spirit crushing naysayer in your words, actions, thoughts &/or intentions, you TOO can choose to be different. You can be part of building someone up instead of tearing someone down – if you choose to be. What do you choose for yourself today?
Today, I choose to lace up my shoes and do a 3 mile run, no matter how slow I am. (if you are new to running or haven’t gotten off the couch for awhile, check out http://www.halhigdon.com/training/51137/marathon-novice-1-training-program. It’s awesome-and doable–just get the green light from your Dr. first, kay? )
If you see me shuffling and huffing along this evening, or someone else running (or run/walking) in that similar way, don’t look down your nose at them. Give them a quick smile and a “you’ve got this”. Trust me, you will make their run…and their day.