I had the most fabulous opportunity to spend a weekend with a dear friend who had recently been declared cancer free. He gathered a group of the most inspirational and beautiful spirited people to create Team Choose Joy and together we ran the Austin Marathon raising funds for LiveStrong.
I’m always looking for reasons to celebrate, and being declared cancer-free is one of the most celebratory occasions I can imagine! Often people gather and celebrate a life once it has passed; so rarely do we celebrate a life being lived. It was wonderful to be able to celebrate Sean’s successful treatment and the all the effort and energy he put towards his treatment and ultimate triumph over the disease. The amazing people running in support of Sean were all living strong and wonderfully fulfilling and purposeful lives and many, I later found out, are fighting their own battles – but nothing was stopping them.
I have learned so much from runners, they never cease to amaze me, and once again, I learned a tremendous amount as I tackled this new goal with many more experienced runners by my side.
Here are a few lessons I learned along the route of my first marathon:
- Just show up – making the commitment to be there – ready or not is the most important part.
- Just keep moving. Start out with a goal time and pace if you wish, but no matter what, keep moving in the direction of your goal. Eventually you will get there; maybe not as you expected but you will arrive at the destination as long as you don’t stop.
- Be open to the unexpected. Plan for your race, however be open to new obstacles that you didn’t anticipate. Throughout the course there are many variables and some are out of your control, do not let the unexpected throw off your race.
- Enjoy the encouragement and feedback from people along the way. You will have to dig deep at some point and you will likely need their voice in your head to help pull you through those times.
- You can do almost anything you think you can do. Remember though, if you let your confidence fade, you can also talk yourself out of what you are truly capable of accomplishing. This works for or against you, the choice is yours and it will make or break your results.
- Enjoy the process. It might be your first or your 100th time doing this but each time will have something unique about it. Be open to experiencing each time to its fullest.
- Rally the troops! If you do things with a group of likeminded people the joy will exponentially raise (remember this goes for negativity too!)
- Trust the original idea, not the current discomfort. Remember during times of doubt, at one time, you thought this would be a good idea.
- To every uphill there is a downhill and the trick is to manage your pace as best you can through both. Also remember, sometimes the biggest uphill is right before you reach your goal!
- Above all, smile. People are watching you and even as you struggle, you might be inspiring someone.
We each have our own battles along this road, but we are all running this race. I encourage you to just show up each day and move forward at whatever pace you choose with joy and passion for the length of your course.