Monday, September 21, 2015

Reflection: Arriving In Taper Town In Preparation For Our Third Marathon

For a variety of reasons, 99.5% of the population of the U.S. will never run a marathon. For a select few of that group, because of circumstances beyond their control, they cannot. For the majority, they either choose not to run, or they choose to believe it is something that they could "never" do. For the people who thought they could "never" do it, I would say that Jamie and I were somewhat in that camp. We were not sure we could do it, but one thing we were sure of--we were willing to put forth the effort to find out.

Three years ago, Jamie and I committed to run our first ever marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. to support Nuru. Jamie and I are constantly trying to think of ways that we can help raise funds and awareness for Nuru's work of ending extreme poverty and invite others to join the effort. Three years ago, a group of my friend Jake's classmates from the United States Naval Academy had committed to raise $98,000 for Nuru, and among the ways we brainstormed to get to that goal was having people run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. Jamie and I figured we could train together, run it together, and know that the training was not only helping us become more fit and disciplined, but also it would be helping our global neighbors in Kenya and Ethiopia to have access to tools and knowledge that could change their lives for the better!

This is our third year of running the Marine Corps Marathon to raise funds and awareness for Nuru. (As a side note, if you want to help us toward our fundraising goal, you can click here.) Our training regimen over these last three years in conjunction with our travel schedule to share Nuru in various locations has given us some incredible quality time together without distractions and has enabled us to explore a number of cities, countrysides, and trails in this beautiful world. We have been motivators and encouragers for each other every step of the way and helped each other push through mental blocks and the distractions we all encounter to train appropriately.

And this weekend, we arrived in "Taper Town"--the phrase used to describe the period between your longest training run and the actual race. The photo above was taken when we were about eight miles into our run. Taper Town is an interesting concept. At this point it means that all of the training has been put in, the miles have been logged, the body and lungs are prepared, the mind is focused and knows that it can complete the race. It is the last major training exercise before we run the race.

It's an exciting point of arrival, but not just for the above reasons. It's exciting because of all that has come before it. One does not arrive in Taper Town without discipline, without planning, and without perseverance--those same tools will come in handy on race day too, but on race day, all most people will know is that we, hopefully, completed a marathon. During the six months leading to Taper Town, our training has consisted of incrementally adding miles and increasing effort to be ready. It has meant early morning runs and late evening runs to move toward a big goal.

And as I reflect on the training and the path we took to get ready, I'm filled with gratitude. I'm filled with gratitude because Jamie and I have the physical ability to run 26.2 miles. I'm filled with gratitude because I know that this is one of many tangible ways we can take action to help our neighbors living in extreme poverty. I'm filled with gratitude because not only are we physically able to do this, but we were willing to plan and discipline ourselves to discover that we had this ability. Three years ago, when we signed up to run the Marine Corps Marathon for Nuru, we did not know if we would be physically able. We trained smart in 2013, and because of that, we arrived at the finish line. Most of all, I have gratitude because the whole training regimen is a tangible physical reminder of a value we both have and strive to incorporate into every area of our life (though not always successfully), and that is to bring our best effort to whatever we do.

Now whether you ever decide to run a marathon, I think there is some real merit in testing your mettle and determining just how much you are capable of bringing into this world. In many ways the marathon is a metaphor for so much of life. Want to accomplish some massive goal? Do the little things to get there. Make a plan to get to your destination. Push your limits. Put in the effort, even on the days you might not feel like it. By putting in the effort and time incrementally and habitually, you can build your capacity and push the boundaries of what you can accomplish. And, if you put in the training, you will be ready for whatever your life's journey might bring your way.

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