“It will change your life forever.”
I kept hearing that as I was training for my first marathon. Variations (however slight) on the theme of “When you cross that finish line, it will change your life forever.”
I heard it during pretty much every podcast of The Marathon Show.
I heard it every time I watched Spirit of the Marathon.
I read it in Marathoning for Mortals.
I heard and/or read it so many times, I think I had the finish line built up to be this mystical thing where as I crossed, the sky would open up and a bolt would come from on high, instantly making me a clearly different person.
So when I crossed the finish line at the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon and the sky didn’t open up and there was no bolt from the blue, I tried to figure out what I’d done wrong.
Sure I had a feeling of accomplishment. I had gone 26.2 miles. I cried – that actually got me quicker attention when I went to medical for simply preventative ice for the knees – with the realization that I’d done it. But I didn’t really feel any different. I was still me.
And to be honest, as I reflected on it, I started to question if I’d done it “right”. I mean, my stomach was acting up for the whole first half until we got bananas, and I wasn’t able to run as much as I’d wanted to. Maybe the whole “life changing” thing only happened if you’d done it closer to how you’d trained.
Now, deep down, I did realize this was silly. Things always happen. Rarely if ever does anyone have a race go exactly as they’d planned. We’re all adjusting on the day of and even moment to moment during a race. But I wanted to have some kind of epiphany, something where I could clearly say “This is where I changed.”
When I talked about this on my running-centric blog, several friends reassured me that they hadn’t had the lightning bolt moment either but just a slow realization about things. So it was seeming more and more like the change was more like something that revealed itself over time. I have seen my training paces (generally) come down. And my endurance has been better – a six or eight mile weekend run is (relatively) easy-peasy now.
But I still didn’t really feel different.
I’m sure that my result at Broad Street last Sunday is also in part thanks to my marathon training and the muscles and endurance I built up doing that.
But still, I felt like my old self.
And then this week was my observation – where my assistant principal comes in and observes me teach a lesson. For a variety of reasons, these always make me nervous. I mean they make everyone nervous, but they make me especially nervous. Probably because they haven’t always gone great. I’ve typically gotten a “conditional satisfactory” whatever that’s meant or in a few cases even had to redo a lesson. Largely because I overcomplicated it and tried to do far more and higher work than I needed to. This time I kept it simple and stuck to the basics.
And a funny thing happened as I was doing final preparations. I realized that while I really wanted it to go well, I wasn’t the nervous wreck I typically am. I had a plan. I had contingencies in place for different things that could happen. I had boiled it down to the basics.
In short? I realized I’d taken what I’d learned from my training – have a plan, have plans for what happens when the plan doesn’t work, keep it simple stupid – and was applying it to my lesson preparation.
And most amazing, I actually heard myself say to someone at the store on Thursday night (I work parttime at the Disney Store):
“I ran 26.2 miles! I can do this observation thing!”
It may not be that bolt from the blue I had anticipated, but crossing that finish line has changed me.
I know I can do whatever I set my mind to – I just have to put in the work and trust my training/preparation. I love Kathrine Switzer’s quote at the end of Spirit of the Marathon: “You triumphed over the adversity. That’s what the marathon is all about. And therefore you know there isn’t anything in life that you can’t triumph over after that.” So true!
And if I forget, I can just look at my RoadID dogtag, the quote side. “There will be days I don’t know if I can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing I have.”
Does the finish line change your life forever? Yes! It may be more subtle than you’ll ever expect, but once you cross it, you’ll never be the same person you were.
(Oh, and that observation yesterday? Satisfactory! Not even conditional!)