Why the Toronto Waterfront Marathon left me a blubbering mess on the sidewalk

runner in a marathon one foot in front of the other

Today, when I went to get groceries, I ran smack dab into the midpoint of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

And I cried.

I cried because before going to get groceries, I had been setting some big hairy scary goals for my business, goals that are way further than I (or anyone I currently know, for that matter) have ever gone before.

And I was feeling completely stunned by the enormity of the vision I am about to achieve: overwhelmed at all the steps that lay in front of me, and at a loss for where to start.

And so I took a break to get groceries. And on my way, I ran smack dab into the midpoint of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

On one side of the road, runners approached the turning point a few blocks from the grocery store. On the other, runners headed away from it, back to the downtown core and the finish line.

These were people of all ages, genders, and sizes who had just run nearly 21 kilometres… And they were still going!

Hell some days, I can barely make it to the bus stop. If that was me in this run, I would have called an Uber after the second block. 

Yet, watching them it dawned on me that none of these runners started running by doing a 42.195 kilometre race (that’s 22.26 miles for my American friends).  

Sure, some might have been running since they were in diapers and never stopped. But others, many others, started much later in life.

And of these, some at one time no doubt thought;  “Running? That’s for other people. Not me.” or “Gee, I don’t know.” or “Running a marathon? Are you freaking insane?!?”

Yet, here they were putting one foot in front of the other doing something that to many, including their formers selves, seemed an impossible dream.

And this fucking inspires me to no end.

Because what they are doing – running a marathon – is really, really hard!

If you’re starting from scratch, first you have to complete a couch to five kilometre program, then a five kilometre event, then a five kilometre to 10 kilometre program, then a half marathon, then a whack of a lot more training, and finally this epic event: the marathon.

But before even that, they had to buy the sneakers, and get their asses out the door.

And this takes years!

And it takes focus and discipline and patience and persistence!

It takes putting one foot in front of the other day in and day out whether it’s raining, or they are hungover, or they just don’t frigging feel like it!

It takes exactly the attitude you need if you want to achieve a big hairy scary goal.

And so, as the enormity of what this run would mean to some of them hit me, tears welled up in my eyes, and I stood on the sidelines with snot running down my face applauding them.  

And I made a commitment. I committed to come back next year and applaud them again, and the year after that.  

Because, even though I have zero interest in running, if these thousands of random people can go for something so momentous, so can I.

And yes it’s clichéd, but it’s also true: it all starts with breaking it down and putting one foot in front of the other.

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