“Rebellion against your handicaps gets you nowhere. Self-pity gets you nowhere. One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world — making the most of one’s best.” ~~ Harry Emerson Fosdick
It’s hard sometimes to accept what life hands us, isn’t it? As I spoke about last week, we often set expectations when facing certain situations, and can become disappointed when things don’t turn out as expected. That’s part of life, of course. We all know that, but that doesn’t make it easy to accept the way things are sometimes, does it?
Yesterday, I ran my 4th half-marathon in Virginia Beach. I wanted to run this race for several reasons: it’s very close to my hometown of Portsmouth, and it’s the 40th anniversary of this particular race (a BIG milestone) — it just felt like something I needed to be a part of.
When I signed up back in late November, I had hopes of finishing in under 2.5 hours (there I go, setting expectations!) to set a nice PR for myself (that means Personal Record for anyone who is unfamiliar with the running lingo). But with my health issues that I’ve been struggling with ever since, and an IT Band injury to boot, I basically abandoned my training plan and just did what I could. It was hard for me, but I had to let go of all my expectations and just accept wherever I happened to be each day.
Some days, I had no energy at all and either went back to bed or simply moved as much as I could muster. Some days, I was full of energy and was able to run and work hard. It was frustrating, but as the months went by, it got easier and easier.
However, I will say that I very seriously considered not going to the race at all, since I knew how unprepared I was to run 13.1 miles. But my daughter was running the 8K the day before me, and I figured if I was going to be there anyway, then I would just get in there and do the best I could. There was a 4-hour time limit, and I knew I could do THAT just by walking the whole time if I needed to.
Yesterday morning, as I walked in the foggy dark to the start line, I was nervous. What the heck was I getting myself into? But I started to catch the energy of all the others around me, and by the time the starting gun went off, I was excited to see what I could do. I had no expectations — I just figured I’d listen to my body and take breaks when I needed to, and that’s exactly what I did.
I ran for the first 5 miles, but my stomach forced me to take a break. I hadn’t been feeling well for the week leading up to the race (allergies and a cold), so I am sure that’s what made my stomach so upset. So after that point, I had to alternate walking with running, because my stomach kept bothering me from that point on. By mile 11, my feet and hips were really starting to get sore, so I slowed down my running pace but picked up the walking pace. And that’s how I finished the race. When I got to the point where I saw the finish line, I kicked it in to finish strong (you know, so I would look good for my pics), and that’s the end of it.
No PR was set. In fact, I got my worst time ever for a half-marathon. I finished in 2:57, which is like 16 minutes slower than my very first half-marathon. But I had a super-big, goofy grin on my face for a few hours after, and you know why? I think it’s because I accepted my limitations and really listened to my body. I finished the distance — maybe not in the time I was hoping for, but I finished, and that’s a big deal. I could’ve given up and hitched a ride back with one of the “rescue” vehicles. Or I could’ve chosen to not even show up at all. But I wanted to see what I was made of, and whether or not I could let go of the competition aspect and just do what was best for ME. And I did it!
So my challenge for you this week is to accept yourself as a bundle of possibilities, making the most of your best. Can you do it? Yes, you most certainly can!