In 13.1 miles and a little more than three hours, my year’s focus of balancing life and working toward healthy living became as much of the celebration as crossing the finish line in my first half-marathon. So much of what I experienced nearly two weeks ago during the St. Jude Memphis Marathon depicted what I’ve been learning and attempting to practice.
The journey was difficult, tiring and painful. It also was exhilarating, rewarding and encouraging.
Completing the run (most of which was a fast walk for me) meant I had to train in advance. I would not have been able to achieve the goal without a consistent building up of endurance, cardio, muscles and desire. In order to train, I had to eat properly and get enough rest, which meant I had to carve out time to make all of this happen. Finding the time meant setting priorities, improving efficiency in all areas and cutting out unnecessary items.
And through it all, working to find more uninterrupted time with the Lord became the key to staying sane for me.
But as I alternated running, jogging and walking through the streets of Memphis with more than 12,000 others (most of whom were much faster than me), I also realized how much more I could have done. I remembered all the times my training didn’t stay on schedule and wondered what difference it would have made that morning if I had maintained better training. What if I had done more to build up muscle mass? What if I had put more focus on meal planning and nutrition? What if I had worked harder on cardio endurance and running? Could I have run more than I walked instead of vice versa? And, ouch, what if I had trained on hills rather than staying on flat terrain? Those hills were quite painful.
The answer to all the questions is yes. I certainly could have done better with more training and better focus, but isn’t that always the deal? We can always do better in all areas of life, and I certainly plan to build on the lessons I’ve learned this year and hope to do even better next year. But I’m not going to be disappointed about this year’s achievements, even with various setbacks along the way, because I still made forward progress.
On the day of the run, I found the ability to keep going even when my muscles screamed otherwise because the cause is near and dear to my heart (see http://www.caringbridge.com/visit/bellemitchell) and a group of about 15 of us were on the same team (Team Belle). Having the right motivation and working together with others rather than alone really made a difference. Another major help came from the support I received from family and friends leading up to the big run as well as the cheers from people I didn’t know along the course.
I believe this result can happen in all aspects of life. Knowing you have the support of others, feeling confident you are not alone, being encouraged by hearing a good word here and there — it truly does provide those necessary boosts along the way.
I started the year with a goal to figure it all out — how to balance life and maintain a sense of freshness and energy consistently. I certainly didn’t master it nor officially achieve it, but I have learned a lot and come a long way on the journey. As I think through my goals for next year, I plan to start with the foundation I’ve built this year. Maybe I’ll outline a few specific goals on which to focus as well as continue my quest of achieving near-perfect balance while maintaining the ability to adjust to whatever life circumstances surprise me.