It’d been a childhood dream to run my ‘local’.
And our collective sense of hope.
Forty two point two kilometres were ahead of us, interspersed with three (potentially dream-shattering) hills.
I could see the finish line in my mind. Feel the butterflies in my tummy. I just had to get started.
The crowds were packed along the city streets. People carried signs that read, “42.2km because 42.3km would be crazy.”
At the first hill, I recall thinking how great I was feeling. You know that leap-a-tall-building-in-a-single-bound-kind of greatness. I was full of excitement, hope and optimism around my ability to finish the marathon with little difficulty.
About 22km my right knee began to twinge. I was so busy watching the crowds, studying the scenery and comparing notes with fellow runners that I didn’t give it much attention.
One foot. Then the other.
At 27km, the doubt, negativity and discomfort started to creep in. Who was I kidding? I didn’t have the stamina or the runner’s body to run 42.2kms.
Never mind that I had completed other marathons. I was talking about N.O.W.
Yes. . . I was wallowing in self-pity.
Then, I started the whole comparison trap. I thought about how easy previous marathons had felt, how my body had cooperated better, how the weather wasn’t as warm, in those other marathons. I thought about the race winners who were probably at the finish line refuelling and about to have a massage.
Next came the “I should have’s.” Stupid me should have trained more. I should have had done more stupid hills in training. I should have had more stupid carbs at last night. I should have not signed up for this stupid marathon.
Yup. . . ‘stupid’ is my word of frustration.
To top it off, I’d lost sight of my balloon-wearing pacer dude so I was all alone.
And, if things couldn’t be any more challenging, I’d entered a part of the course where the crowds were smaller and spectator energy was waning. Think long stretches, industrial buildings and shopping malls.
So there I was.
Welcome to THE WALL.
I was pouring sweat. I was nauseated from all the energy gels I’d necked in the first half. I’m sure I wasn’t looking so sparkly and I definitely wasn’t feeling it.
“I’m gonna throw up…”
“Uh oh … I’m gonna pass out …”
“Maaan … that pavement looks like it’s made out of memory foam.”
About now, all I wanted was the pain to be gone. It occurred to me how easy it would be to leave the course: find shady tree, some water and just hang out for a few hours.
I even started preparing the excuses in my mind for my family and friends who were patiently waiting at the finish line.
I wanted to cry. I realised I was. Silent liquid ache.
This was that moment.
That moment where I had to decide whether to quit or continue.
At that time, I entered a part of the course where the crowds became more alive. There were drummers on the roadside, people cheering louder than ever.
Then, three specific things happened:
1. my right knee pain re-appeared.
2. I saw a woman running in a full body burn suit (she’d been involved in the Tamahere factory fire) which made #1 SUCH a non-issue.
3. My husband and-all-time-champion-of-the-world-supporter said to me, “you OWN this course, honey, you OWN IT”.
Something miraculous happened.
It was that moment.
That deeply happy moment when you turn the corner in your mind.
Suddenly, I knew I was going to finish the marathon. Not only did I know it, but I started to enjoy it again, because I wasn’t alone.
Sure the knee still ached but the fog was lifting.
My husband’s words, the crowd’s energy and support at kilometre 33 was exactly what I needed to keep me in the race and, ultimately, cross the finish line.
What does this have to do with you and weight loss?
Well, I see a lot of women when they have hit their wall.
They feel hopeless and powerless about their weight, and they doubt that they’ll ever be able to overcome their weight struggle.
Instead of a shade, tree and water, they want a sofa, some chips and some chocolate, because the race ahead seems SO much bigger than them.
But, I know better.
Not just because I’ve experienced the wall in a marathon, but I’ve also experienced the wall in my own weight struggle.
What I’ve realised is that there will always be a wall when you are going against the norm, when you are transforming in a big way and when you are refusing to settle for mediocrity.
But, a tough patch is a small price to pay for the feeling that you experience when you cross the finish line.
When you hit the wall best thing you can do for yourself is to find support. Seek out that crowd to cheer you on when you think you can’t take another step. Find a someone – that mentor or friend to hold you accountable to your desires. They will hold up signs and shout your potential, power and possibility.
And before you know it, you’re running again.
So, dear reader, sign up for something that is beyond your ability by a truly stupid margin. Get support, and allow yourself the gift of surprising yourself. You are infinity more resilient than you know.
– When was the last time you experienced hitting the wall?
– How did you gain the courage and support to keep moving forward?
– Or, if you’re in one right now, what can you do to make sure you keep on going?
Leave your comments below, and if you know of anyone who might be hitting their own wall, please forward this on.
(Sweaty) love etc, Avril