Everyone who has ever lived has suffered or gone through pain. We may not have suffered the same, but we have suffered none the less. I completed my first marathon on 2 June 2019. I went through a whole new level of suffering and pain, and it was not all physical. Pain and suffering allows us to grow; how we respond to it makes us who we are. How we frame the experience is the most important part of it. Whenever I would get nervous about the race I would frame it as excitement and not stress. I smile and feel good when I’m excited about something. I did not have to deal with nerves at all from the time I got on the bus until the race started because I continued to view the feeling in my gut as excitement. When the horn blew to start the race I looked at my friend and said, “It just got real.” Again, smile on my face and not a bit of nerves or anxiety about the coming 26.2 miles of running that was going to take me 7 hours and 35 minutes to finish.
I discovered some things about myself in this experience. I was way under trained. I dealt with runner’s knee for a long time during my training period which kept me from running for almost two weeks. During that time I learned about the limitations of my body and the amount of care I needed to give it in order to get to the starting line. I pondered on multiple occasions the possibility of dropping down to the half-marathon in order to better assure my success since I had run that distance during training
The Deadwood, SD Mickelson Trail Marathon starts with a 13.1 mile up hill struggle. The grade is around 3% and is quite wearing on mind and body. The second half is pretty much all down hill except for a short period near the end where it comes up some and then drops again. Around mile 8 I had to take a bathroom break and it really slowed me down. I wasn’t last until after this point. My pace was enough to make the cutoff time of 7 hours until my detour to the port-o-potty. I spent the better part of 6 hours virtually alone aside from my good friend making sure I had what I needed over mile or so of the last five.
I have given the race much thought since then. What could I have done different? What mindset did I have that was weak or defeating? When was I fresh and motivated despite my pain? All of these answers come from introspection. I have just completed reading David Goggins’s book. He speaks to mindset and determination often. He was able to complete three hell weeks for the Navy Seals before finally becoming a Seal. It was not as much his skill that got him through, but his heart. I would encourage people to read his book but be warned, it is not for the faint of heart. He cusses through the whole book using quite a few F bombs, so if you are offended easily by this then maybe find another book to inspire you to overcome great adversity and fear. You will be missing out, however. His story is amazing and it helped me to realized the amount of physical and mental struggle we can endure if we can push beyond the limits of our thinking. If there is anyone on this earth that could help you discover what it will take to overcome a monumental amount of suffering in order to grow stronger, it would be this guy.
The bottom line is, if you are to grow as a person, endure the difficulties of life, and find great reward at the end, you will need to go through pain and suffering. Don’t be afraid of it, embrace it. To live a life of comfort and “playing it safe” may feel nice, but you will not have truly lived. I’m not saying be reckless, I’m saying to not be afraid to fail and go through pain. These are inevitable and will produce the most growth. John 16:33 says, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” It is clear that we will have trouble and suffering in this world. Do you have the heart to endure it?