It was the hardest and longest mile of the entire marathon! It was my first one. I’d been moving along for 4 ½, almost 5 hours and this was the farthest I’d gotten – 19 miles. My psyche kicked in to taunt me as if to say, you’re not even in the 20s yet in mileage and you expect to go 26.2 miles? I was “regular” walking, jogging, and power walking – seeing the mileage signs all along the way. But the Mile 19 sign caused the tiredness to come down and the doubt to go up! (Never occurred to me, though, that I had gone over the halfway mark of 13.1 miles).
Fortunately for me, there were some encouragers at the refreshment table, a few yards past the sign. These volunteers were stationed near every mile marker and their job was to cheer the runners on. One of them saw the despair on my face. He started clapping and cheering me on, telling me I could do it, and then proceeded to run beside me for about a minute. After that, my psyche kicked back in to allow me to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Mile 20 was not a bother. Miles 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25 got easier. I got my second wind and breezed into Mile 26. The .2 Mile? A piece of cake! I crossed the finish line with even a little bit more energy to run past it.
During my 2nd marathon, I refused to look at the Mile 19 sign – I didn’t want to psych myself out again! For subsequent marathons (8 under my belt, to date), I was determined to stare Mile 19 straight in the face, and sure enough, I was not bothered! Someone has said that running a race is a smaller percent ability, but a larger percent mental – and I believe it.
Have you ever gotten stuck, figuratively, at your Mile 19? You were close to completing a project, finishing a race, or getting that degree. Your psyche kicked in, telling you the reasons you need to quit. Maybe you just need to gather your cheerleaders around you. I wouldn’t recognize the young man on the street if I saw him again. The one who clapped and cheered, told me I could do it, and ran beside me for a minute. He probably has no idea of what he did for me that day.
If you haven’t gotten stuck at your Mile 19, maybe you have been someone’s cheerleader to encourage them to get to the end. As a cheerleader, you don’t need any pats on the back, no certificates of recognition, or publication in the media because cheering is what you do well. You prefer staying in the background or on the sidelines. You love seeing other people shine!
As you can see from my example, Mile 19 need not be scary or a stopping point.
So…just keep running!