Yesterday I ran my 9th Gold Coast Marathon, and about my 20th marathon in total.
There is no easy way to run a marathon. It is a test for anyone who shows up at the start line.
A marathon has a mythic quality to it, carrying the history of the first marathon and all the millions of people around the world, from all ages and levels of fitness, who have crossed the finish line.
Part of its beauty is that it captures, in 42.275 kilometers, the sum total of the roller coaster of life. You can have perfect training leading up to it, and then a bad race. Or bad training and the perfect race. You can go from feeling wonderful to shocking without rhyme or reason. Or you can go from feeling at deaths door to wonderful in the blink of an eye.
You will be tested multiple times, on your commitment, your ability to endure. You will think you are going mad. People will know that you are mad.
Not unlike starting a business.
You start a marathon to finish. At least I do. Quitting is not an option, unless you are seriously in trouble. You can walk if needs be, and many people do. No shame in that.
You aim for a result and usually get something else. It can be better, or different.
I have experienced all of the above. This time my training was fantastic, feeling stronger than I had in years. I was relaxed, excited, and ready to go.
At 8 k, out of the blue, a pain in the right calf muscle, one I have never had before, even mildly. It was pretty bad. If something didn’t change I was going to have to address it. It did ease up, but was with me the whole way. You have to decide if the pain is something you are going to focus on, or just be aware of. There is a difference. When you focus on it, it takes over your world. When you are aware of it, you allow it to give you feedback, but it is part of the greater feedback of the whole. Another rule of life…do you focus on the problem areas or do you hold them in the larger context?
Feeling strong, relaxed, going well within my pace. Started to feel nausea at 30 k. My old friend, hyponatremia (low blood sodium). Plus heat. Fought to stay on pace for another few kilometers. Remembered all the times in training that I had worked my butt off. Hang in there. Knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t hold down any fluid or sugar. Refused to stop running. Pace slowed right down, a minute slower than target. Persevered. The world becomes very small when you are in this state. You see no one. It is just the focus of next step, and the next.
41 k. 1.275 to go. The crowds are there but you only have a vague awareness of them. 300 m. Grit your teeth. Not able to run any faster, no matter how much you would like to.
See the finish. Know you are in trouble and will need help. The announcer calls your name. No energy to raise hands. Or smile. Its 100% focus on one thing only, the finish.
One foot across and then down you go. Hands to help. A little stay in the medical tent. But end up walking back to the car and driving home.
Know that you put it all on the line. Deep satisfaction in that. The time is still great. 3 hours 44 minutes, 05 sec, 8th in your age. It wasn’t what you were hoping for but it was the very best you could give on the day. And that is all you can do.
People ask why do you do it? Why do you push yourself? The answer is simple and complex. I knew I was not in grave trouble. I wasn’t being stupid. A marathon asks of you to rise above everything. To move through pain, to endure. It is a great training ground for life and business.
You will be served curve balls. You will have to endure. You will go through very dark times. You will experience joy. You will be tested to finish. People will think you are crazy. You will doubt your own sanity. Hands will be there to help you when you fall. Sometimes nothing will make sense. Other times everything will just fall into place. And all of this happens in a few hours.
I cannot think of a more perfect school for starting a business, running a business and living life.
And once you have crossed the finish line, you are in an exclusive club. No matter how fast you ran, or walked, you can say, head held high, I have finished a marathon.
Will I see you next year?