3 Lessons from Marathon Número Ocho

Yours truly after 26.2 miles. I always get photo bombed at these races!

I recently completed another marathon — the Eugene Marathon. It was my eighth overall but first since moving the Oregon a couple years ago. May 7th proved to be a stunning day for running.

Since running a marathon, shorter races actually feel more attainable. I know how hard to push my body and still have plenty left at the end to finish strong. The 26.2 mile journey known as the marathon still feels mysterious — getting the better of me most of the time. While some races have been much better than others, they all really hurt by the end. But then again, I think it’s good to get a little beat up once in a while. It’s motivation to keep straining and striving for more.

As with past marathons, I always learn something. Here are three lessons I came away with this time around.

New race. New chance for a personal best

I ultimately finished the race in 4:03. That’s smack dab in the middle. Not my best and certainly not my worst. While I had hoped to break four hours, I was thrilled to set a personal best on my first (and only) time running the Eugene Marathon course and now can work to better that the next time I run it. It would be easy to be upset with the fact that I didn’t beat my personal best, but it’s ok to have more than one goal in a race and celebrate the ones I achieved. My actual number one goal in any race is to not die and the second is to finish, and I successfully achieved both of those.

Self talk is a real balancing act

During the beginning and middle of a marathon, it’s really easy for those endorphins to kick in and make you feel like you can conquer the world. I definitely got a little overly optimistic, picked up the pace, and paid for it during the last four miles. At that point in races I also tend to tell myself I’ve gone further than I really have. Later in the race when everything really starts to hurt and the pace slows, that talk backfires and makes the race feel a whole lot longer. The mental part of running a good race is really a balance of staying positive but also realistic.

It’s ok to get help from others

A couple friends showed up at mile 25 to cheer me on. At that point in the race, my pace had slowed quite a bit and I was more or less trudging to the finish. One of them ran a half mile with me and I was humbled and a little apologetic at the fact I wasn’t moving faster than I was. Her response was, “You’re doing great!” Don’t you love it when people sprinkle a little optimism on your pity party? I was reminded of the power of letting someone join me in the journey. Has someone been that person for you? Can you be that person for someone else?

That’s it. Now that I’ve completed eight marathons, I have no choice but to go for ten — so you’ll be hearing more thoughts from the road in the future. I’d love to hear some of the lessons you’ve learned as you strive to achieve your goals.

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