Frozen peas have become my new best friend.
As I type, my ankle is propped up, adorned with this latest accessory in my life.
The kicker? It’s all self-inflicted.
You see, the junior-high version of me could barely pass the one-mile run test in PE. And she hated. every. minute.
But the 30-something version of me decided my next adventure in torture and exhilaration should include running a half marathon. 13.1 miles of fun. Or something like that. And I completed the challenge earlier this month during the Evansville, Ind., Half Marathon.
It led to a sprained ankle and the aforementioned frozen vegetable. And it was, without a doubt, one of my greatest personal challenges – both mentally and physically.
With several hours spent in training runs each week, and 2 hours and 24 minutes of running on race day, I had plenty of time to think. (And to question my sanity. But mainly to think.)
What I discovered?
The life lessons learned through running and through youth livestock shows overlap in amazing ways. Hopefully, my children can pick up a few of these lessons through their experience of watching their crazy momma on this crazy journey.
- You have to get out there and put in the work – day in and day out. No excuses. Whether it’s lacing up the running shoes for a training run when running sounds like the dumbest idea ever – or whether it’s pulling on the chore boots when you just don’t feel like it, by golly – you’ll never see the results you desire if you don’t do the work at home.
- When you fall, get back up. I’ve never been accused of being the most graceful gal around. And that was never more evident than when I face-planted, literally, at mile 4.5 during the race. The only thing to do? Hop back up, and keep on running. Yes, it might lead to a sprained ankle and frozen peas. (And a slightly bruised ego.) But the pain of quitting is far worse than the discomfort that sometimes comes from seeing the job to the end.
Our almost-3-year-old daughter, Caroline, has brought this up often. “Mommy, you fell during your race.”
“Yes, I did. And what do we do when we fall down?”
“We get back up and keep running!”
Yes we do, sweet girl. And I hope you always remember that.
- Great people exist, and they’ll help when you need it most. That glorious face plant? It was followed by two men stopping in their tracks to make sure I was ok. For that moment, they weren’t worried about their time or success or goals. They were most concerned about lending a hand to a complete stranger. I’ve seen it more than once in the show cattle world, too. Pretty humbling, indeed.
- Seek the advice of experts. Mentors are invaluable, regardless of the scenario. And I’ve found in both running and youth livestock shows, they’re more than happy to help someone in need. Throughout the 12 weeks of training for this race, I received encouragement and advice from those who have been running far longer than I have. They always had just the right words for the situation – from playlists to staying on track to the best socks for the job (Balega, in case you’re wondering). Our friends in the cattle industry? Absolutely the same.
- Run your own race, not the race of the person next to you. One such experienced friend and runner, Regan, reminded me of this wisdom moments before the race’s start. How true – whether it be in running or in the show ring. Everyone is on a different journey. Everyone has different goals and experience. Don’t be discouraged by your point in the journey, in relation to the person next to you. The only one to compete against? The person you were yesterday.
- Family supports each other, no matter what. Race day was cold. It was windy. Really, it was miserable. But my husband and kids and mom were smiling and cheering just yards from the finish line with their handmade, glitter-adorned, poster-board signs. And after running for 2 hours and 24 minutes – they were just the inspiration I needed to power through to the end. That’s just what family does.
My hope? That our children feel that same exhilaration and sense of pride when they see their parents and siblings awaiting them as they exit the ring at every show. My excitement for them is completely glittery-sign worthy. And if I could be holding up a handmade sign to cheer on my kids in the ring, I’d absolutely do it. (Oh, yes. I would.)
Yes, I learned far more than breathing techniques and the benefits of energy gels throughout my half-marathon training. I learned a lot about life, too.
Will I do it again? Probably.
Just let me get through the frozen-pea stage first.