I did it! This past weekend, I ran my first marathon. I ran my first marathon even though the night before, I wasn’t sure if I’d toe the start line. I ran my first marathon despite thinking about dropping out with every step for the first five miles.
I spent the week before the marathon, not tapering, but aching and feverish and just barely making it to work and bed. There were no easy runs, no stretch sessions, and no carbo-loading. I only loaded up on DayQuil and NyQuil. Every day, my worst-case-scenario mind was pretty sure I’d get pneumonia after hanging out on trails in 38 degrees. I thought the pain I’d been feeling in my left hamstring meant I should rest and not risk the life-long injury I’d conjured up. Even the morning of, I was still harboring a ferocious, racking cough.
But once I was out there—putting one foot in front of the other—I remembered something my friend Jamie always says: “You’re fine.” If I groan about ab work in a yoga class she is teaching, she’d say, “You’re fine.” If I skin my knee during a trail run, she is always there with the “you’re fine” reminder. And you know, on race day I was fine! (You thought this would be more inspirational, huh? Well, hear me out.) I wasn’t spectacular, I certainly wasn’t going to win, but I also wasn’t dying. So I was, and still am, fine. Instead of dwelling on my gross cough or my achy hamstring, I focused on my capable legs that had only minimal strains from the last few months of training. I thanked my body for recovering from being sick just in time for the race. I even used “you’re fine” as a sort of mantra while running through icy streams or up steep hills. At one point, I nicked my shin on a rock, stumbled, and fell into a foot of mud. To keep going, I actually said “you’re fine” out loud to myself, which made me laugh as I found my running stride again. (PSA: Running makes you kind of nuts.)
Once I shifted my focus, I had a really great time with the remaining 21 miles. I made sure to look up at the beautiful trees. I paused to take photos of the waterfalls we ran behind and sampled all the aid station snacks.
Of course, this revelation is not new. Everyone knows the old saying, ‘Mind over matter.’ But for me, this was a nice reminder during a time of transition in my life. As the house I love empties, we quit our stable jobs and lose all sense of routine, it will be important that I focus on the good, don’t doubt myself, and know that I’m fine. Well, at least 99% of the time.