I did it.
I finally ran my first half marathon after thinking about it for nearly two years. What really helped me to accomplish that goal wasn't hours of interval training nor was it miles-long runs through the winter months. This was the secret: writing down my goal.
Something happens when you put your plans to paper. You start to somewhat believe in it. Then you start to talk about it with the people around you. Then they begin to repeat it back to you. Then you're motivated.
I had planned to not run the race about a month prior. My training had fallen off about two months ago, I was a little stressed with some (overdue) life assignments, and I wasn't sure I could actually run 21 kilometres without passing out. Fear was taking its toll. But because I'd spoken the word about a year ago, others were able to repeat that very word back to me. I had already committed to it, so I kind of felt I needed to complete it.
I had initially set the goal to run in 2:00:00 but after seeing the high leg kicks and sculpted calf muscles of the sub-2 hour people at the start line, I revised it to 2:30:00 and prayed the good Lord would carry me. I prayed Psalm 23 and asked God to let me lie down in His green pasture as I ran, then I let all the fear and anxiety go. I unfortunately drank way too much water and had to pee less than 10 minutes into the race, and stopped a few times along the way so I thought my goal was out of sight.
Then the unthinkable happened: I pulled a muscle at the 19 km mark. I tried to slow down and walk, but walking was far worse than just standing still. I couldn't stand still though; I was 2 km away from the finish and I knew I had to keep moving. The pull hurt so bad, I had to half-run, half-limp. I was exhausted, wet, itchy, and now crippled with pain. Then a thought: run faster. I don't know why I thought it because it seemed totally contrary to what made sense in my mind. So I started running faster, and the pain actually went away. And when I tried to slow down, the pain would return. So in my exhaustion, I had to nearly sprint the last kilometre to the finish line.
After I crossed the line, I slumped over at the side of the road and caught my breath. As I raised my body upright and started walking, I noticed the pull was no longer there. It was just a little sore now, but the seething pain had vanished.
I refreshed my phone in anticipation to see my finish time, assuming I'd been only around 2 or 3 minutes over thanks to the unexpected sprint. I was shocked to see I had actually finished with 2:30:23.
Sometimes we're given a pull when we're nearly at our goal, and we're not sure why. We think maybe we've done something wrong, or we didn't heed the warnings soon enough. Truth is, sometimes a pulled muscle helps us to run faster or more effectively to reach the goal we've set out in our hearts. Had I not pulled my right quad, I likely would not have met my goal.
And why the 23 seconds? God works in mysterious ways. Maybe He was winking at me, reminding me of the prayer I'd prayed at the start line. Or maybe it was just 23 seconds. Either way, now I know the power of a thought. Just a small thought. Don't underestimate your potential or what you've purposed in your heart to do. He will see you through. Even if it means limping to the finish line.