Yesterday was THE run.
It was THE run I had been equally looking forward to and dreading for weeks. It was the run that (at least in my mind) would tell me that either I was on track with my training or I was not. It was "put up or shut up".
Going into this run, my confidence was not 100%. I was nervous. Several people had hinted/said that with all of the training I had done on the treadmill that I would struggle to hit my paces outside. I know that has not been true for me and I usually find it easier to hit my paces outside than on a treadmill, but still, that doubt nagged. I worried I wasn't as fast as I thought I was, or as fast as other people, or as fast as some people think I am, or as fast as I want to be.
The goal was 16 miles at 7:15. All 16 miles at goal marathon pace. Outside. (Which is the equivalent of running my half marathon PR from January, plus three miles, at altitude with hills instead of on a flat, sea level course).
When I left my house at 5:30am it was DARK. It was cold (about 20 degrees and snowing lightly). I was nervous. I was anxious. But I knew I had to just start moving forward - start running - give it my all - and hope it was enough.
It did not come easy. There were miles that felt really good, and miles that felt like there was no way I would finish. There were a lot of hills, but I kept telling myself that Boston has a lot of hills and that I had to stay strong. There were moments I felt strong and confident, and there were moments that I doubted. There were moments it felt like I had too far left to go and wouldn't finish.
But I didn't quit. I didn't give up. I didn't give in.
I finished. I did it. I reached my goal. I WAS fast enough. I WAS strong enough. I WAS tough enough. I did it.
It took all of my physical and emotional energy and concentration. I had my IPOD for distraction/motivation and when I got home I realized that I had barely heard any of the music, as I was concentrating so much (which is why I don't race with music).
It was tough. There was pain. There was burning. There was exhaustion. And yet on the other side of it, I am stronger (physically and mentally). My faith is stronger. I am more confident. I am better.
I have been thinking about how yesterday's run was a lot like going through the fires of life. They are so very challenging - emotionally, mentally, and physically. We struggle. We are challenged. We have pain. We burn. We get exhausted. We wonder if we have too far left to go. But if we believe in ourselves, stay strong, keep the faith, never give up, give it our all, and keep moving forward, we can come out on the other side better. We can make it through the fire and be stronger, more confident, happier, more refined, more believing, more pure, and more ready to take on whatever comes our way.