Every runner comes across them from time to time. The wall.
What's the wall?
It's the paralyzing moment you don't feel like you can do anything. You grow very weak and your body and mind begin to shut down.
You don't have to be a runner to have experienced the wall. Walls are everywhere. They wreak and create havoc for us. I've done four marathons. My first two were a piece of cake. Okay, I probably overestimate these feats...they were difficult and hard to train for but overall I didn't have any problems. I ran my best and had no issues. I just went out confident and came home feeling even better.
Three years ago this past weekend I hit my first wall in the marathon.
Nine months after Ally, my daughter, was born, I ran the coveted New York City Marathon. It's five grueling bridges were hills I hadn't prepared for, and the weather (a cold windy day) was not what I was used to. With 25 extra bricks of weight I was carrying post pregnancy, I just wasn't as prepared as I had been prior to NY in the other two races. Early in the race, with 11 more to go, I felt like I couldn't go any more. My legs knocked, my knees felt weak and after taking a bridge at Mile 15 on an incline I never thought would end, I just collapsed. I cried. I broke down and didn't want to get up. The pain was everywhere and it was overwheming.
I remembered very little. Everything was moving in slow motion. I couldn't breathe. My head hurt and the world felt like it was closing in on me.
Do you know the wall?
Maybe you know some version of it. Everyone is going through something. Maybe you're in a new job and you just can't get your groove? Or, perhaps you've had a recent relationship go bad, and you're on the mend? Maybe it's that diet you've been struggling with and just can't get going? Maybe you're unemployed and have been for a while or on and off again. Recently retired and still trying to figure out what the next chapter looks like? We all have walls in life. They are mean, nasty, terrible, awful, painful and unpleasant.
But they define us.
They define our strength during our weakest moments.
There I was watching everyone pass me by. After a moment of silence hit me and I snapped out of my funk. I got up off the cold ground and told myself "Like hell I won't finish this race." I had been sick. A week prior my newborn had given me some sort of junk she had picked up at the daycare. I threw up for days and even spent the night in the hospital for fluids. I kept thinking how could I come this far without going farther and finishing? Who cares what I looked like? Was I going to let the clock define me, no. I wanted that damn medal and I was going to drag my lifeless body across the finish line no matter how late I was to the party. I was not going to let any of this stop me.
Walls define us.
- In our most defenseless moments, we can make a choice to quit or to keep going.
- We can throw up our hands and cry, or crawl our way to finish with a smile of determination knowing that a victory no matter what, is ours.
- We can let life's setbacks roam rent free in our heads or we can clear our minds, focus on the bigger picture and see things through.
- People can mock us, but the fact is they aren't brave enough to try. We have the choice to smile or let it get to us. Dad always said "kill em with a smile."
- We can become victims or get stronger and become victorious and then help others carry the torch when they need encouragement.
Every Christmas I hang one unique medal ornament on my tree. Can you guess which one it is? At 6:28, just two minutes shy of course limit on a cold evening in New York, I emerged from Central Park a three-time world marathoner.
It wasn't my fastest. It wasn't the easiest. But it was my best because it taught me about who I am.
Whenever I need a reminder of that finish, I think of that moment I crossed and proved to myself I could prevail.
We can all prevail. We can hit whatever wall life throws us and overcome it.
What walls have you overcome?