Silent Victories by katsmp

I ran my first half marathon this year and I gotta admit, it was underwhelming. One year of training, for a numbing feeling after running 13.1 miles. Since March of 2020 I had decided to run competitively. And by competitively I mean running a 10k with other people and with the only goal of finishing the race alive, no matter how long it took. To my surprise I wasn’t as bad as I had imagined, and I actually liked it. After my first 10k (6mi) I decided to run more. 6 miles turned to 8miles done, then 10miles done and I couldn’t believe it…but at the same time, and forgive me for being obtuse, it wasn’t a feeling of total disbelief. It was a feeling of…well of course I finished 10miles I have been training for months. It wasnt a feeling of feeling power and feeling invincible, it was a feeling of ordinary. Because although you might not believe it as you read this and I don’t know what your relationship is with running but…running long distance is not a gift or talent reserved for inmortal demigods. It’s a habitual, repetitive, ordinary task that you do day after day, week after week, and before you realize it you’re running your half marathon. Okay, here’s how mine went; Due to the virus, there were no live events at the time my training plan called for the 13.1 miles. So I ran it in my neighborhood’s bike/run trail. The Washington Old Dominion trail. Two paved lanes, white line down the middle. Views of golf courses, large subarban homes, creeks with wooden bridges, and the occasional artisanal brewery along the way. I started that day early. To hydrate, eat, and do everything else so I wouldn’t have enough time to go on a run. Finally around 11am I hit the trail. Although 30 degrees Fahrenheit, there was no wind, and the sun was shining. Perfect weather. In the car I gave myself this pep talk. “My body is ready for it”. “13.1 miles is only a little over 6miles x2”. “All I need to do is run 6.6mi one way, that’s it. If I do that then I can easily finish off the other 6.5”, I concluded. I grabbed my headphones, gloves, and stuffed an energy gel in my running belt. I began my stretches, blasted some music, and danced away all the reasons why I should go home. Mile 1-3: I listened to a podcast about Catherine the great. Have you ever wondered how many hated women in history were actually just badass women doing their best that people hated to see win? Super easy run so far, and actually having some fun. Mile 3-6.6. Just me and my thoughts from here on out. Wow I cant believe I’m half way there, like who knew? Except I knew, I mean all the hard work has to pay off today in this moment. How am I gonna feel when this is all over? Probably like a fucking beast. Ahh I cant believe I ever doubted myself. Mile 6.6-8 My feet are tingling, they’re going numb. This is normal, this is fine. Let me finish the rest of my gel. Let me stretch out my arms. Yup that hurts. Don’t focus on the pain, focus on the finish line. Mile 8-13.1 My brain begging “Please stop running. You cant do this”. Me: No we are not stopping. I literally feel nothing, we are fine. My brain: “This is stupid. Running for hours really? Just stop please!” Me: This is the stupidest idea I’ve ever had. I want to stop, but I’m seriously already here might as well finish the thing I started. My brain: “If you stop now no one will know though. Who are you doing this for?” Me: “Who am I doing this for?”. Wait, who am I doing this for? Well I’m doing it for me. This is for me. This is mine. My brain: JUST STOP! The last miles had nothing to do with my physicality, it had nothing to do with how tired I was. The battle to finish the half marathon was all in my head. My brain did not want to accept that running for me, was a good enough reason to keep going. I was running for no one else but myself. No one knows how many miles I’m running everyday. No one gets up before the Sun on a cold winter morning with me. No one knows how hard it is. The last miles of that half marathon were the hardest. It wasn’t too much, it was almost as if my reason for not stopping was not enough. Why was my brain fighting me so hard on the logical reason of running for myself? I’m still asking myself this question. My brain expected a reward. The applause after crossing a finish line. The pat on the back for a job well done. I finished the half marathon. Without a cheering section, or a medal, and there it was again that feeling of being ordinary. But this time after I finished my static stretches, there was a new found hope and excitement of doing things for me without the need of others approval or praise. Of silent victories. Of quiet wins, that barely whisper; You did it. I knew you could do it. Let’s do that again.