"To Achieve What We Have Never Achieved, We Must Do What We Have Never Done!"
I can't remember who said this but I find myself coming back to it over and over in the years since I first heard it. "To achieve what we have never achieved, we must do what we have never done." There is so much power in that statement. Words like that can inspire social revolutions or move mountains. I love to roll the words around in my brain and think about the different ways to approach them. Sometimes I focus on big obstacles other times it is more mundane. For instance, "I have never cut onions without tearing up." So then I think about what I have never done to try and achieve a different outcome. "I have never chilled the onions before cutting them." So I throw them in the fridge and see what happens. (Incidentally if you have never chilled onions prior to slicing them, try it and you may make it through without going for the tissues.)
Last December I had lunch with a friend and by the end of our time together we had a plan to complete a half marathon in the Spring. Have you ever heard of a "barf bag goal?" Well this qualified. It was not until last November that I even started working out regularly. Yep, that's right I was a breath away from having lost 100 pounds and only a month into my YMCA membership. However, I was in much better shape than I had ever been in due entirely to loosing the weight and becoming a more active person in the day to day sense. So now I was facing the challenge of doing something I had never done, never even considered in my wildest dreams!
I was so excited! Before we even picked a date I began a rhythm of spending time on the treadmill twice and week and became much more active overall. Once our date was set I printed a training schedule, from a web site, and while I didn't adhere to it very strictly the outline helped me know I was on track. The final plan for the half marathon was to walk and jog as we felt comfortable but I wanted to be as prepared as possible to ensure my ability to finish.
Our walk/ jog was not part of an organized event so we had to carry our water and anything else we needed with us. I bought a little waist pack to hold a bottle of water, some cash, my phone and a couple packages of Cliff Shot Bloks for recharging along the way. The route we were walking had places to buy bottled water so I planed to only carry one at a time. Part of my agreeing to do the 1/2 marathon in the first place was the location. When my friend and I were discussing the details I said we should do it in sunny L.A. where she lives rather than the chilly Pacific Northwest. Our route was a paved path next to the beach, from Santa Monica to Venice and back.
Before I knew it the day arrived and we were off, one foot in front of the other and ticking off the miles. The day was phenomenal, with blue sky, not too hot and little breeze, a perfect day for our event, or anything else really. Our little group of four walkers, including my sister, set out from a quiet part of the beach. The first part felt great just going along enjoying each other's company. As we approached the Santa Monica Pier people watching became a really fun way to keep my mind off the miles. By the time we arrived in Venice there was such a colorful hodgepodge of people I nearly forgot what we were doing. Shortly after passing through Venice we reached our turn around point. After walking at a good pace for over six miles my muscles were ready for a change. Our little group split up a bit and my sister and I both jogged back through Venice to get through the hubbub a little quicker. For the remaining miles we walked and jogged as we were comfortable. I was very glad to have my Shot Bloks on hand to keep my body fueled and I did take advantage of a snack shack and bought a second bottle of water.
With about a mile to go my husband brought our son to meet us on the path. It was really fun to share a part of the experience with them. I think I lost time strolling with them but it was also the first day of our vacation and I wanted to savor the moment. I once again picked up the pace right at the end and jogged across the finish line. I completed my first 1/2 marathon with a time of 3 hours and 15 minutes. (Wow. Writing that last sentence stopped me in my tracks for a moment.) I felt great; not at all the way I was expecting. I imagined myself crossing the finish line with my last ounce of strength and plopping onto the ground. Instead I milled around, went to the bathroom, took some pictures and then we made our lunch plan. The next morning I still felt great and we packed up and walked the four miles, round trip to the local farmer's market.
It might sound a bit strange but I was disappointed that I felt as good as I did. I sort of missed that muscle ache you get when you have really pushed your body to work hard. It never came. Without moving into the gym or shunning my social commitments I had trained well enough to finish a 1/2 marathon and feel great doing it. I have not made a plan for another event but I would really like to. Now that I know better what I am capable of I would like to run a greater portion and perhaps wake up feeling it the next morning.
"To Achieve What We Have Never Achieved, We Must Do What We Have Never Done."