After a five year break, and actually following a training plan I ran the 2014 Ogden Marathon last week. Unfortunately it was my slowest time out of the three full marathons I have ran, but I still finished in 4:38. Many factors may have contributed to my calves cramping up around Mile 11. In the midst of my pain and stress I decided to try a relaxation exercise. It seems a little funny to say that it might have been almost instinctual as I agonized about getting through last 15 miles. I counted a breath in through my nose and a breath out of my mouth as a cycle and attempted to run for at least forty of those cycles. As soon as I felt tired, I walked for about twenty cycles. I started to enter a state of mindfulness where I was only aware of my breathing and nothing else. I was able to keep this up for about 5-6 miles and during this time it was a pleasant surprise to fully open my eyes to find that another few miles had already passed by and I was at another water station.
There were several funny quotes, poster boards, and themed water stations that kept me entertained, but around Mile 23, when I really started to feel depressed about my slowing time, I saw a quote written in chalk that was very inspirational to me. It read “Embrace your pace”, and it was what I needed in that moment. It was a perfect example of a radical acceptance statement to help me accept the moment for what it was. Finally, during the last mile, my smiling, beautiful 8-month pregnant wife was there cheering me on and I was able to finish as strong as my cramped legs would let me.