A funny thing happened on my way to the marathon.
As a way to provide some inspiration to Mama and myself, we signed up to run a half marathon at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. For those of you who don’t know, a half marathon is 13.1 miles. Mama and I ran together for the past few months getting ready for the race. It wasn’t that I needed to train to complete the race. It was a matter of the goal of my time. In fact, in addition to my shorter runs through the week, I ran a half marathon every Sunday morning in training.
Then, a week and a half before the race, I tore my calf muscle while working on a ladder. It was very painful. So for the next ten days, I didn’t run on it all. I only stretched it and iced it, hoping it would heal by the big day.
On the morning of the race, it felt fine. I stretched it out and it looked like it was a go. I got dressed, hopped on the shuttle, but when I stepped off the bus…POW! (Yeah, that’s what it felt like.) It was bad. It felt like an ice pick in my calf.
So I did what any rational adolescent would do. I RAN THE RACE.
The first couple of miles was a mental drill to clear my mind and turn off the pain. Maybe there’s a story in there, but I was totally focused on choosing to treat the pain as a signal, rather than a feeling.
Then an amazing thing happened. Since I could in no way compete with my time, I began to embrace the moment. It was no longer a competition to win, but an event to savor. I talked with all the Monkey Shoe Peeps (aka- the folks who were wearing Vibram Five Fingers). Any military received a big “Hooah!” and “Airborne!” from me. I especially went out of my way to encourage the kids who were running.
But that was just the competitors. I thanked all the volunteers handing out water. I thanked the people who were on the side cheering.
And, instead of taking off on my own, I ran the race with Mama.
When it was all said and done, I finished 50 minutes slower than my training times. And that’s OK. Sometimes, in life, we look at the race all wrong. We are so focused on the finish line, we don’t enjoy the race.
So, am I glad I tore a calf muscle? Yeah, kinda. I enjoyed that race. I enjoyed the time I spent with my wife. It reminded me to enjoy the race.
Like the t-shirt says, ‘Life is a Journey, Not a Destination.’