How Action Can Be Stronger Than Belief

The marathon was this weekend here in New York, which made me think of my experience, back in 2000. What a crazy and thrilling experience—the crowd, the adrenaline, the energy. I have so much respect and admiration for the people who ran it yesterday. I’m reminded also, though, of the surprising feeling I got in the final few miles of the race. I’d never felt so empty, or incapable.

I hit the “wall” at mile 20. My partner’s wife was supposed to meet us, but she wasn’t there, and I was devastated. He was fine—but I’d been using our meeting point as a milestone, something to work toward, and when we missed her, I just felt there was no way I was ever going to finish. It seemed impossible. That well inside that you go to, when you dig deeper—I felt it just didn’t exist, like there just was no “deeper.” I felt so empty. Everything hurt. I could’ve just as easily laid down on the road and slept.

Later, I told someone about that feeling, they said, “Well, clearly you could dig deeper, or else you wouldn’t have finished.”

I was struck. How could I have felt so incapable, yet have had the capability all that time?

I think the lesson is, even when you believe you’re on empty, even when you think you can’t dig any deeper, there probably is something there. Even if you can’t feel it, you do have more strength, more ability than you know. Just keep going. Trust that by putting one foot in front of the other, you’ll get there.

I still remember that feeling of not believing that I could finish. I actually did not believe, in my heart, that I was capable—yet somehow, I still was.

If I were running to what I perceived was my maximum capacity, I would have stopped at 20.
You can’t always rely on your own belief in yourself. You can go farther than what you think is your maximum capacity.

The medal from that race is, to this day, one of the medals I prize the most. Running that distance is a huge 

accomplishment, and it’s among the things I’m most proud of. The lesson it taught me, too, is invaluable.

To everyone who ran those 26.2 grueling, wonderful, terrible miles yesterday, congratulations. And thank you for showing the world what is possible.

Anytime—in a race, in life, whenever—when you think you can’t go any further, and when that well doesn’t seem to exist, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You can get there and you’ll be happy you did!

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

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