The Marathon

As someone who has historically despised running, there is an element of irony in the fact that I’ve just run a marathon. In schools many of my friends ran in the athletics club, but I was stubborn and adamant that I would never join. And I never did. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to run – it was boring and painful and there were no shortcuts through it.

But here we are. Tis done now. And while it does feel like an achievement in and of itself, I cannot ignore the fact that I would never have completed the race without he help, determination and focus of other people.

As soon as I finished the marathon yesterday I started to cry. Right there on Patrick’s Street as a volunteer handed me a banana. I wasn’t sure exactly why. But now I think it’s because of the sheer amount of effort required for a person to run, not just their own effort, but the people who support them, too. And the realisation of this effort manifested for me in tears, for others in fist pumps.

There is simply no way whatsoever that I would have been able to complete it without my brother, for example. Cillian is a monster. He ran yesterday as placed 92nd overall. It’s madness. There’s a force within him that is inexplicable. If there is a single example of the sheer power of will and determination in my life, it’s my brother. He coached me, convinced me to run in the first place, and held me accountable. For as long as I’ve known him, he’s had an unrelenting focus, and is dedicated to doing what needs to be done regardless of how we might feel about it. It’s sort of difficult to not push yourself a little bit harder when you have a mentality such as his sitting at the dinner table.

Then of course there are the countless other people; my parents, who as much a pit crew as a source of encouragement, picking me after completing long runs. Doing all the little things that add up to very big things. Friends are a constant source of encouragement and belief. So much so that even though I was just about running 5k’s when I began training at the beginning of March, there was never any sort of whisper that I wouldn’t be able to complete the 42k run.

Doing very hard things, things you never really think you can do until you do them, is very good for mental health. Because it shows you that there is always untapped potential. Your body and mind can withstand more than you care to realise. It’s only in pushing the limits of what you consider to be possible that you learn this. You can’t figure this out second-hand. You won’t truly believe it. Not until you’re at the end of your rope and you suddenly find that you still have more to give. Do a marathon, write a book, travel the world. Whatever it is you think you can’t do, I guarantee you can.

That’s a powerful lesson to learn indeed.

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