I completed the 15th Miami Marathon Sunday, January 29th. While sharing post-experience thoughts on Snapchat (@DreBaldwin), I analogized the race to life, since not everyone is keen on covering 26.2 miles in one shot.
Here are the parallels for you, even if you won’t run to catch the train:
Conditions may be unfavorable. So what? Winters in Miami are not like winters anywhere else in the United States. It’s warm and sunny, usually. A 65-degree morning is as cold as it gets.
In early January, I’d had a 17-mile training run scheduled. Opening the door that morning, it did not feel like a Miami winter day. Checking the weather report, it was 50 degrees!
I could have easily not run outside, opting for weight training or a treadmill. But I quickly reminded myself that the upcoming Marathon was going to be held outside, on a date written in ink.
What if it’s 50 degrees again on the 29th? Are you gonna not show up?
I ran that day, with hands so numb that I held my bladder – simply because I couldn’t undo my shorts drawstring. And what do you know – the second coldest day of the month happened to be Miami Marathon day. Oh, and I forgot to mention the rain (which you can see in the image above).
(FYI – I am born and raised in Philadelphia; I have seen snow before, shoveled cars out of parking spots, and yelled at landlords for not turning up the heat high enough. I know cold weather. I moved to Miami to not need to deal with it anymore.)
In life, you can’t press pause simply because you don’t feel like working/talking to people/making dinner for the kids. When you’re in it, you’re in it, and you have a job to complete. [shareable cite=”@DreAllDay “]When you’re in it, you’re in it, and you have a job to complete. [/shareable]
Cus D’Amato, the man who taught Mike Tyson how to box and made him into the fiercest figure in all of sports for a time, left Mike with one last message before Cus died.
Being a Professional has nothing to do with money. A Professional is someone who goes out and performs, no matter what he is feeling on the inside.
There may be traffic on your path. The Miami Marathon, which from what I understand is on the smaller side of marathons, drew 23,000 participants yesterday. A majority of them were running the half marathon, but we were all grouped together. I have no idea how the groups were chosen, but I should’ve been placed in a faster group.
In training, my normal mile splits on long (<12 miles) runs was always somewhere between 8:30-9:00. My first 2 miles on the Marathon yesterday were over 10:00 each. I spent the first 5 miles of the race doing more bobbing and weaving than straight running.
Why? There were so many people!
In life, you will run into traffic while traveling the path of your perfectly-laid plans. What you expected to happen won’t happen; what you didn’t expect will happen. You’ll have to adjust on the fly and deal with obstacles. Slip around them, go over the top of them, or move them out of your way.
You will question your decision, but NEVER your commitment. Every section of the Marathon course, I’d run in my training, so I knew the streets well. So around mile 15 – when the course had us running in the opposite direction of the finish line, I realized that the last 11 miles would be ALL mental.
My hip flexors, quads and calves were all threatening to cramp up if I dared do anything past an easy jog or “shuffle” (if you’ve run one, you know what I mean). The temperature dropped and the rain picked up. Around this point I told myself, half-jokingly, I will NEVER do this again (not a joke: I really won’t).
But I never even considered the possibility of not finishing the marathon. Even if I had to walk, crawl, or stop to stretch every quarter mile, I was finishing that race. And finish, I did.
Life has many days just like Mile 15 of a marathon. You’re tired and depleted. You know you’re barely halfway to the finish line. It would feel great to just quit and go home, or even just to sit down. But while your energy and excitement may wane, your commitment never does. You start it, you finish it – simple as that. [shareable cite=”@DreAllDay “]You start it, you finish it – simple as that. [/shareable]
All the rewards happen after the finish line. Unlike some, I didn’t snapchat during the race and I didn’t have a GoPro camera strapped to my body. The only photos that exist were taken by course photographers and cheering people along the way. And I didn’t run 26.2 miles to get a damn picture.
I did it to complete the commitment to the decision I’d made last May, with no knowledge of how to train for it.
I did it to get a nice medal placed around my neck after crossing the finish line.
I did it because a marathon is a great test of physical + Mental Toughness that anyone can easily sign up for. Showing up, though, is another topic.
In life, you can study, train, and work hard all year, but you get no rewards until you put all that preparation to good use and perform. The goal of the training is not just to train, but to produce and result.
You joined the gym not to break a sweat, but to shape your body a certain way. You shoot 1,000 jump shots not for an Instagram video, but to make the one shot your team needs in the big game. You work hard not because you love working, but to provide a better life for yourself and your loved ones.
And you won’t know you achieved your goal until you’ve pushed everything out of you that you possibly could.
Done right once, you don’t need to sign up again. Life doesn’t have do-overs. So you’d better make the most of the one you have. You’ll have many more regrets of what you could’ve done, but didn’t, than you’ll have of what you did do, even if it went terribly. At least you’re not wondering what would’ve happened!
Unlike a Marathon, you can’t sign up for another life to try and do better. Do your best with life, starting NOW, so you won’t have too many regrets when the race is over.
When telling people – especially fellow athletes or trainers – that I was doing the Marathon, many of them insisted I’d get the distance running “bug” and do it again.
One time was enough for me. And even though I know most winter races in South Florida take place under sunny and warm conditions, that won’t bring me back. I set a goal, completed the mission, and it’s done. As Lewis Carroll famously stated,
“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop”
And as I always say about professional sports: The games are always fun! The training is what makes people retire. If you know any former athletes, ask and they’ll tell you.
So after a 5K in 2010, and this Marathon in 2017, I’m officially retiring from distance running, and any competitive sports, for that matter. I have books to write, speeches to give, and lives to change.