I completed my first marathon in 2008 – the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in September. It was a nightmare. A terrible experience. Don’t worry, this isn’t a race report – I did that already. In fact, I decompressed about it for weeks. No, today I just wanted to tell you about someone I met.
At the pasta dinner I sat at a table with a man in his 60s named Sydney, who, I was to learn, was running his 152nd marathon the next day. He had run his 151st only a week or two before. He used to be in the US military, and was clearly in wonderful shape – he apparently kept a race schedule like this a lot!
On Sunday morning I ran into Sydney again, at about, oh I don’t know, 32K maybe. He told me he had blown up and was just trying to muscle through to the end. My story was similar (well, actually it was that I tried to run after battling an injury for weeks, but that’s a story for another day). He and I leap-frogged by each other several times – the final time he passed me he grabbed my elbow on the way by and told me we could make it. And make it we did.
I learned a lot that day, not the least of which I learned from Sydney: you can be running your first marathon, or your 152nd, you can do all the preparation in the world and be so ready – and still have a bad day. Does that mean we shouldn’t bother to prepare, or maybe just shouldn’t bother at all? Of course not! We often have a bad habit of being very hard on ourselves, playing up our struggles and failures and beating ourselves up about them. Sometimes we even downplay our accomplishments, chalking them up to a good day, nice weather, perfectly mixed sports drink. But in the end, it is what we make it. I don’t know how Sydney looks back at that day. Luckily my struggle was a hundred life lessons, a huge accomplishment, and more goals for the future. What about yours?