Sunday, December 8th 2013. This is the day that I will always remember as the day that I realized, “What’s the Rush?” I was on a two week vacation in Hawaii, the island of Oahu to be exact. This was a big vacation for me, it was my first big trip that I planned and paid for entirely on my own. I had big aspirations of things to accomplish while I was there. I wanted to go hiking, see the sights, go to Pearl Harbor, learn to surf, body surf big waves, run a marathon, snorkel, cage dive with sharks and skydive. Some of you may be thinking, “gosh this guy is crazy”! Maybe I am, but I was extra motivated to be adventurous in Hawaii. I’m very happy to say that I was able to check off everything on my Hawaii bucket list. Everything turned out just like I had hoped it would, everything except for the marathon…
It was 5am on Sunday, December 8th 2013 and the Honolulu marathon (my very first marathon) was about to begin. I was confident and excited as well as nervous and doubtful. I knew that mentally this challenge was something I could overcome. I knew that cardiovascularly my heart could handle it and I knew that I had trained appropriately for it. However, I also knew that about one month prior, I had experienced muscle tightness and pain in my right knee. That didn’t matter, the pain was long gone and I knew that I had to be present in the moment because all I could worry about was the 26.2 mile journey ahead of me. I had a vision; to be able to say I have completed a marathon. I had goals; Goal #1: Keep running, no matter what. Goal #2: Finish the race in less than 4 hours. Based on my training, I knew that this was realistic.
30,000 people geared up at the start line ready to go. An eruption of fireworks went off, essentially a Fourth of July finale lasting 5 minutes, to start the race. With that display my confidence skyrocketed. I started off smart, running at a pace that I knew I could maintain, eventually speeding it up. The first 2 miles seemed to go by in no time and my excitement only continued to rise. I knew in my head that there was nothing I could not accomplish. Less than 1 mile later, everything changed. My extreme highs were soon to become extreme lows. I began to feel symptoms of pain in my right knee, just like I had one month before. Within minutes my knee was so stiff that simply bending it was intolerable. I already knew that I would not be able to achieve goal #1 (keep moving no matter what) at mile 3. I knew that if I wanted reduce the pain, I had to stop and stretch. I thought to myself, no big deal it’s just a tight muscle, this won’t slow me down too much. I was relieved to see that the pain went away, so I started to run again. Less than 3 minutes later the stiffness in my knee started to act up again. I stopped to stretch again. This sequence of events happened about 3 more times by the time I finally reached mile 5. It was at this point when my heart sank and the unsettling realization kicked in that I was not going to accomplish any of my desired goals during this marathon. I still had 21.2 miles to go and I had already stopped running to stretch numerous times. Not only that, but my knee couldn’t even handle the intensity that I had trained to go at for this race.
The next 5 miles were a big emotional roller coaster. So much negativity coursed through my veins. All I could think about was how pointless it was for me to be continuing. I can’t even accomplish my goals. If I try to go fast, I feel pain. The slower I go, the longer this takes. I’m tired. The end is never going to come. I should just stop. Even if I want to stop, I don’t have a phone, everyone I know is sleeping, I don’t know how to navigate Honolulu, and gosh darn it this just sucks! I stopped to stretch again. During this stretch session I was forced to think about what was truly important to me. I was caught in a heated debate with myself about what action to take next. On one hand, I knew that I could push myself, suck it up and ignore the pain. I could still finish in a time close to 4 hours. I can still achieve my goal of being a sub-4-hour marathon runner. On the other hand, I could respect my body and do the best I can one step at a time. Maybe I won’t achieve my goals, but I will still reach my vision of completing a marathon. But… I’m a fitness specialist, this shouldn’t be happening to me, I’m better than this, I can overcome it. At that moment, I started listening to what I was saying… “exactly”, I thought…. “I’m a fitness specialist… at a healthy lifestyle resort… who preaches making decisions that will improve quality of life… How would I coach a client through something like this?… well… Would it improve my quality of life to ignore my knee pain, push through it, finish my first marathon in 4 hours or less and risk permanently damaging my knees, reducing my chances of being a great marathon runner in the future?… no… Would it improve my quality of life to give up?… no way… would it improve my quality of life to accomplish this amazing task in the way my body is ready to, and be able to call myself a 2013 Honolulu marathon finisher?… ABSOLUTELY!!!” I had nowhere to be later. I had no plans. In fact, it was barely 6:30am and the sun was about to rise in arguably in the most beautiful place in the entire world, “What’s the Rush?”
This marathon put me in a place that many guests at H3 know very well. This is a place of going on a journey. This journey is a place of being enthusiastic to get started; a place where you have mathematically calculated when and where you will arrive at your dream destination; a place that surprises you with unforeseen challenges. A place that makes you want to quit; a place where you ask yourself, why can’t I just be there now? A place where you grow in ways you did not expect to grow; a place where you realize what is truly important to you; a place where you ask yourself… “What’s the Rush?” This is a place where YOU CAN go the distance. The destination may not be as easy to get to as expected, but the change of scenery along the way is beautiful, enjoy it. The destination isn’t going anywhere, you are. You can choose to move towards it, or away from it. What do you choose? =D