A few weeks ago I felt defeated, depressed, ashamed, and frustrated when I made the decision to quit a 62 mile ultra-marathon at mile 40 because I did not feel that my body could physically take another step forward. The moment I quit, I realized that it had been a long time since I had quit anything. Today, I have come to the realization that as a result of me quitting, it has made me a stronger person with a more defined character. The days after I returned home, I was struggling with a constant feeling of defeat; a feeling that I never want to feel again, but at the end of the day it taught me a few very important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life:
Never give up on a goal that you have in sight no matter how ludicrous it may sound. Looking back to a year ago, I had a goal of wanting to run longer distances. I went from running a few miles a day to entering in short races to now running 62 mile ultra-distances. Throughout my short “career” of running, my pace and length of running has grown, however it did not happen overnight. My goal of continuing to run longer distances is something that I continue to strive for today, even if it means being tested by defeat during my journey to accomplish that ambition.
The past two weeks were really interesting for me. After I returned home from New Hampshire, I never wanted to feel that I couldn’t accomplish a goal again. That’s when I made the decision to sign up for another ultra-distance race. I chose a race that was a short two weeks away and would take place in the deep woods of Pennsylvania. Some may be thinking well if you quit after 40 miles how are you going to make it 62 miles just two weeks later? The same question ran through my head numerous times as I put my running shoes back on to continue to train for my race, but in the end I knew God had a plan for me. Each morning I woke up, I knew I had to get my head back on my shoulders, re-focus myself, and strive to attain my goal of completing 62 miles. The day before I left to travel to Pennsylvania I made a promise to myself, no matter what happens, no matter how badly I want to quit, no matter how badly my body hurts, I will finish this 62 mile ultra-marathon even if I have to crawl across the finish line.
Right before I started the race, I thought to myself what are you doing here? It was just two weeks ago that you quit at mile 40… The race was off; I put on my head phones and focused on the long journey ahead of me. By mile 30, I was lonely, tired, and still questioning myself on why I was running this ultra-marathon. Even though, the thoughts and the hurt of my body were eerily consistent to the way I felt two weeks ago, I had to remember the promise I made to myself, that no matter what I wouldn’t give up. I resolved to press on and I thought about two bible verses: “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” Philippians 3:14 and “… let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1.
Twelve hours and 34 minutes later I crossed the finish line. At that moment I no longer felt the sense of defeat as I had been feeling for the past few weeks. I can attest that God was with me every step of the way, even in the loneliest hour, He was right there by my side giving me the courage and strength to finish.
I truly believe that God was testing me throughout those two weeks between me quitting at mile 40 to me crossing the finish line in Pennsylvania. He wanted to test two things: my humility and my resolve. I realize now, He wanted me to struggle for a few weeks mentally and physically only to ensure that I did not get too caught up in myself. He wanted me to forget about me and return the focus to Him, which in itself is a long and enduring challenge.
To reach any goal, you must have a struggle along the way, or else the goal is held too closely within your reach. Goals are meant to challenge you at your toughest times and reward you at your best. After completing this goal, I feel extremely blessed that I was able to persevere and have the ability to run 62 miles consecutively. God truly works, builds and refines in mysterious ways and even though I never understood it during my hardship I most certainly can appreciate it now.
My next goal is to run 100 miles, on October 26th, maybe!!!