I recently completed my very first half-marathon, but my fears almost kept me from being able to say that. I signed up months in advance, telling myself I had PLENTY of time to prepare, that I would be ready for it. I was wrong. I trained, but not as I should have, life got in the way, until I found myself 2 weeks away from getting on a plane to San Diego to attempt the biggest race of my life. I remember not being able to sleep the night before I left for the airport, waking up every 30 minutes or so, paralyzed with thoughts of “what if?”

I had a backup plan, there was a smaller race, a 5K, that I had completed so many times before that I could run instead. But that would mean giving-up; leaving California having not even tried. I wrestled with this decision, and talked it through hundreds of times with about a dozen close friends and family, asking them what I should do. The answer was an overwhelming, “go for it” and “you can do it” so why was I having such a hard time believing I could do it when it came so easily for others. In the end, I did it. I got on the bus, drove 13.1 miles away, and realized the only way I was getting back to where I needed to be was on my own two feet. In those 13.1 miles, I learned more about myself than I ever thought possible; lessons in life over 164 minutes. Those being…

  1. The Journey isn’t always pretty: crossing that finish line, in tears of joy for having accomplished something I had earlier convinced myself I couldn’t, I looked back on the last 3 hours, the few weeks of trying to squeeze in as much training as I could, and knew this hadn’t been easy, but I was done. I did it. At that moment, I didn’t care how I got there, how many tears and sleepless nights, and sore muscles it took to get there. The journey wasn’t pretty, but the finish line was beautiful.
  2. You are your own worst enemy: you can have hundreds of people telling you, you can do it, but believing in yourself is sometimes the hardest part.
  3. Slow and steady wins the race: as a competitive swimmer in a past life, I know a thing or 2 about racing against the clock. Wanted the fastest time, but telling myself to be consistent because that’s what would get me across that finish line. I may not have won in the sense of being in first place, but I won against my fears, and that somehow meant so much more.
  4. Just keep running: there were so many times where I was ahead of pace and thought, “ok, you can walk a little” it was those moments where I was ahead of pace and thought, I could stop and slow down, when instead it was the time to keep going. Life doesn’t stop, keep running, keep pushing, and you’ll reach your goals.
  5. Never underestimate the kindness of strangers: sitting at the starting line, we had lots of time before the whistle blew, there were so many people coming up to me, trying to get to know each other, and upon learning this was my first offering an encouraging word or two. It made all the difference. And strangers along the route holding signs, clapping, and handing out water and race snacks, people who didn’t even know me, knew I could do it.
  6. You are capable of so much more than you know: after it was all said and done, I adopted a new motto; “be the girl who decided to go for it.” It is a simple saying, one that most people probably think is easy to live by, but making that decision to go for it, was one of the hardest in my life, and now a motto and experience I can carry through all other decisions. When you are afraid to “jump,” whether it’s moving to a new city, taking a new job, trying something new, DECIDE to go for it. You’ll be happy you did.

Author: Lindsay Schaaf


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