I could be wrong, but I feel like everyone has a defining moment in their running career. It’s that moment when you decide you’re going to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals or realize how important this activity is to you. I feel lucky that mine was early in my running career and it still resonates with me to this day.
I was going into my freshman year of high school. It was summer running season and I was planning on doing cross country. At that point, I had never run more than 4 miles at a given time. My sister (who was about to go off to college) was pushing me to do summer running. I remember how patient she was with me in the beginning. I was still on the heavier side and I was both slow and also just didn’t have the willpower. I liked running, but I was on the bigger side and wasn’t that good (And still not). My sister, on the other hand, just came off 3 school records and was offered full-rides to run in college. Still, she ran with me, motivated me and pushed me.
The First ‘Long’ Run
One day, she was like we’re going to do 6 miles. I was like hell no. I barely got 4 yesterday and I am exhausted. She wouldn’t take no for an answer. There’s this path in our hometown that spans from Cleveland to Akron. It’s pretty flat and well paved. If you go North, you run along the Cuyahoga River amongst trees. There is a moment where you ‘leave’ the trees and you’re in the open air. Right at that point, you essentially hit three miles and there is a building across the street.
I remember so clearly running out of the trees into the open and seeing that building. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so accomplished in my life. I recall crossing the street with my sister and running up to it. I was jumping with joy and just screaming. I was so proud of myself and so happy my sister pushed me. To be honest, I don’t know why I was so happy, I still had to run 3 miles back! The thing was, it wasn’t any special building, it was just a simple red brick building with some windows and doors. But, it just stuck with me. I accomplished something I didn’t think was possible at the time. But, with support from my family, some pushing and a strong mental state, I was able to achieve it.
I’ve never told my sister this (maybe she’ll read this blog post), but that was the defining moment of my running career. Without her there pushing me, I would have never done that. It is what made me believe running is 80% mental. If it weren’t for her and at that moment, I don’t know what would have come of my running.
When it Mattered Most
Back in April of this year, I was running my second marathon. I was fortunate enough to have been running the Boston Marathon. I pretty much hit the wall at mile 20, but it was at mile 23 that I really started doubting myself. I asked myself over and over, why am I even doing this? Why did I decide to run? Why couldn’t I have just never run and ate Cheetos my entire life? I picked my head up and saw some basic red brick buildings (which are pretty common in Boston!). Right then and there, I remembered that moment with my sister some 15 years ago. I definitely was feeling worse than I did 15 years ago, but I remembered that running is 80% mental. That moment got me through the rest of the race. The best part, my sister was at the finish line waiting to cheer me on.
We all have those defining moments in our lives. Be it physical, relationships or career. At those moments, you realize anything is possible. I had mine over 15 years ago and even after thousands of miles and all the races ran, it is still the most important moment in my running career.