My running goals often bring me to crossroads. When my schedule conflicted with my training, when I have to run for miles in the rain by myself, when I'm exhausted. But none were so great as the one I encountered during my last marathon (okay, it was my only marathon, but I'm working on my second).
Running the race was a draining experience for me both emotionally and physically. Just as I was about to approach mile 19 I stopped in a porta potty (as if that isn't enough by itself to make me want to quit). My runners stomach was all in knots and I wasn't feeling great.
As I was ready to pull myself back together and get running again I noticed it. A note where the toilet paper should be. It said "Ha ha, took your TP."
On a usual day I'm not really an emotional person. But seeing that mean spirited note just pushed me over the edge. I lost it. I cried. I have never wanted to quit so badly as I did in that moment.
I sent a prayer heavenward for strength and courage. I thought about all those people I had told I was running a marathon. My pure stubborness surfaced. There was no way I was going to report back to everyone that I hadn't finished the race, especially so close to the finish line. I pulled myself together, cringed a little bit, wiped the tears from my eyes, and kept running. I finished the race.
The feeling I got accomplishing my goal was fantastic. I had done it. I am so glad I had the courage to keep going. I was so happy to be able to tell all those amazing people who cared about me and my race that I had finished.
The bigger the goal, the tougher it is to make those decisions at the ever present crossroads. You have to decide if it is important enough for you to keep working.
Don't let those dreams die! And don't steal toilet paper from porta potties set up on marathon routes.
Amy N. loves to run, play the piano and talk, a lot. With a cycling husband and two active boys she is always on the go. You can read about their adventures here.
Photo from my personal files.