Marathon running is much like owning a business, quitting a job to start a company, or anything else that requires you to go the distance. This weekend I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, and wow did it go differently than expected.
Still, I learned a lot about the character and habits and mindset in place, and how this test is just a reflection of the others that are undoubtedly coming my way.
9 months of preparation. Nearly 500 miles of running logged, probably more if you count the non-tracked runs. There I was, in the presidential suite of the Double Tree near the Pentagon (and no, I didn’t pay for it,– duh!).
I’m drinking water like it’s my job. I’m carb-loading like it’s the last bit of food I’ll ever get.
The Marine Corps Marathon was only 9 hours away.
I wake up early, 4am, get a little food, drink some more, and get into my meditation and visualization.
Wading through people and lines and drop offs, I get to the starting line and before I know it, I’m running. It’s chilly, but the run warms me up. I’m on pace for 3 hours in the first 6 miles, no big deal. I am smiling as I go by fan after fan after fan, watching families cheer on loved ones and fan-created signage that makes you laugh – i.e. Never Trust a Fart.
At mile 11, I’m moving at a good pace, averaging just about 7 minutes. I have lots of energy, but without any warning, my mind starts screaming at me to stop. Something’s wrong, but I won’t admit it to myself, and I refuse to listen to the weak thoughts.
WHAM. It was like someone hit me in the head with a sledgehammer.
Getting to mile 12, my head is spinning and I can’t run upright consistently. I tell myself I should stop for a break, then I battle that thought down. A few more yards and I can’t run in a straight line. I bump into someone as I try to find a way to the side, but I’m so unstable I can’t move my feet right. I waive for help, and two marines jog over just in time to catch me as I nearly start to fall over, no doubt assisted by a cramping right quad.
Sitting down, my world is on fire.
“You’ll never make it.”
“Quit now, and just go home.”
, I don’t recall one saying “weak mindset.”
But here I was. Thinking about quitting.
After 20 minutes sitting, waiting for a medic, and then checking vitals still not feeling better, we called a medic over, but he took 10 to get there and another 5-10 to get to the aid station. By the time I got to aid, I was shaking. Cold, numb, and unsure of what I was going to do.
Some treatment, more vital checks. I’m laying under a space blanket made of ‘soft’ aluminum foil. And I can see out of the tent. I can see runners, who at this point are running a 5 hour time, a full 2 hours off my goal. But they are running!
Mentally I’m giving up. I’m angry and frustrated and sad – among other emotions – all at the same time.
Electrolytes, food, blanket. Stop shaking, and I’m sure I’ll be okay, right doc? He warns me that if I’m not showing signs of improvement, I should consider opting out.
Isn’t this message what we hear all the time? Play it safe…Make it easy on yourself, just don’t even try!
Just take it easy, go home and fall in line with everyone else. It’s easy.
This is the messaging we always get. Stay where you know it’s safe.
(Let’s tie this back to business – THE WORLD DOESN’T PUSH YOU TO BE GREAT. ONLY YOU CAN DO THAT!!)
Thanks to whatever they gave me, a few minutes later it was like the lights turned back on. I could finally think clearly.
There was no fucking way I was not finishing this race. I had a PT massage my cramping right quad and hamstring, and hobbled my way out. Here we go.
The rest of the race was a series of fails and pains and cramping, but I got to the last hurrah and powered my way through it, despite cramping at nearly each step. Fuck it, why not finish, right?
If it isn’t overt at this point, I did not hit my 3 hour goal.
I wasn’t even close. In fact, I don’t even know my time. I don’t care.
Crossing the finish line and resting, I had two friends meet me. I started to eat some fruit, sad down, and on came the shivers. It wasn’t long before medics had to come back over and I was back in the damn tent again. Shaking, I get changed and sit with all kinds of stuff to help me get warm.
“Beginning stages of hypothermia,” the doc says to his team. We joke about it, and I’m laughing. I don’t feel good at all, but that’sthe irony – I somewhat love this space.
By this space, here’s what I mean:
–Odds against, and people telling me my best shot is to not continue (welcome to entrepreneurship my friends)
–Overly fatigued, injured, but proud of what I’ve done
–Mindful enough to know whatever pain I’m in or whatever I’ve suffered, better is coming and the current state is only temporary
–Down, physically and emotionally, but never out
A few years ago, before I spent a 2 year period truly self developing with at least 10 hours a week, I would have had a totally different response. Here’s how, despite not making my goal and being SO far from it, this is still an event I’m proud of:
This will apply to any entrepreneurs reading and anyone that’s thinking of doing something tough – like quitting your job or having that conversation you’ve been avoiding.
–Ask for help – there’s nothing wrong with it, and typically it’s just your ego that wants to fight for power dynamic wins. Take a deep breath, get clear on what you need help with, and ask for it. Find a coach, get a mentor, whoever you can!
–Be able to receive – people will help you but you have to be open to getting help. I had a long conversation with a friend of mine that really struggled with this. People would ask him, “How can I help??” and not only did he not have an answer, but he couldn’t accept the help even once he did! Be willing to accept what people offer, and you’ll have a much better go at your goals!
–Finish at all costs – no matter what. Make it happen. Don’t worry about what happens, just make the decision to figure it out no matter what comes your way. It’s an outlook and perspective that becomes critical at higher levels too.
–Don’t do it alone, have people there to support you – seriously, back to point one and two. Get people around you that will help you get there. You’ve got this.
Whether it be starting a business, quitting your job, or running a marathon, I believe in you and your ability to make it happen. Focus in on the goal, and who you need to be to accomplish it. And after that, never look back!
What’s an area of your life where you could use these four to make RAPID change and finally get where you want to be?
Share below – and let’s figure out how to get you there!