Many years ago, my husband and I entered the Los Angeles Marathon together. We didn’t train for it. We just thought it would be fun to fly to sunny LA, stay on a friend’s boat in the Newport harbor, and run 26 miles with a number pinned to our chests. What can I say, we were young, naive, and in love.
I knew enough about running a marathon to know about this phenomenon called “hitting the wall.” At mile 20, even with proper training, your body will most likely run out of stored glycogen. Simply put, you run out of gas. The last 6 miles can be torture—-if you even make it to the finish line.
We didn’t give much thought to the wall. After all, we were young, naive, and in love—-and staying on a sailboat in Newport harbor.
But just like clockwork that day, we slammed into a textbook version of the wall just after coasting through the mile 20 water station. Our pleasant run, turned into a jog, turned into a shuffle, turned into the strongest desire to sit down right in the middle of the road and take a load off. I can still feel that feeling of just wanting to sit down. ANYWHERE!
Is it any coincidence that I’m reminded of that marathon story today, December 20, the proverbial mile 20 of the Christmas season?
Who else can relate?
Just a few short days before the we scurry down the stairs to see how high the gifts are piled beneath the tree (and feeling like the responsible party for piling them there), it’s easy to wish we could just find somewhere to sit down and put our feet up—-preferably a tropical island in the Caribbean.
The problem is, there’s nowhere to sit down. Even my yoga mat has stuff on it!
I didn’t sit down in the road on that sunny day in March all those years ago, because I knew if I did, I would never get up. I was determined to cross the finish line, collect my marathon medal, and head back to the boat for an ice cold beer.
Remembering how my husband and I tore down that wall, gives me some good ideas for making it to the end of the week with that same winning strength and determination. Maybe there are a few tips for keeping you up on your feet as well:
Slow down: Crossing the finish line was the victory—-how fast we got there and how pretty it looked didn’t matter. We allowed ourselves to slow down; even walk, and claimed full credit when we stepped across the line.
Reconnect with your purpose: We headed out to LA for adventure. My husband and I laughed and reminded each other that running a marathon sans training delivered! It was a way to lighten up.
Look around: Palm trees, warm sun, cheering crowds–it’s what we headed west for. Picking our heads up and getting into the magic of the experience—-instead of wanting it to be over—- reenergized our efforts for the big finish.
Don’t retreat, recharge! It’s easy to go silent when your legs feel like lead and there’s still pavement to cover. My husband and I talked, checked in, and encouraged each other. It was both distracting and reassuring to not feel so alone.
Maybe my marathon experience all those years ago, is the reason I sit here at the 20 mile mark of the holiday season feeling optimistic that we can reach the finish line with a smile on our face and a sliver of Christmas spirit left in our hearts.
Wall or no wall, the finish line comes eventually. Be kind to yourself over the home stretch. Falling across the finish line it is a legitimate way to get there. Hopefully someone in your family left an ice cold beer—-or better yet, a bottle of good champagne under the tree to celebrate!
What’s up with you at the 20th mile marker of this holiday season? I’d love to know!
Feel good. Be well. Meg
About my Sunday Sermon: Sunday Sermon is a tribute to my beautiful 87 year old mom, who was teaching me about wellness before the word was part of our daily lexicon. She used to give me long “lectures” on life–as only a mother can do–while we shared breakfast at Harry’s Luncheonette in Princeton. When she was finished talking, I’d often laugh and say, “Thanks for the sermon, mom. Does that mean I don’t have to go to church on Sunday?” When I stumble on a wellness thought and take the time to write about it for fun and personal insight, it makes me think of those good times.