On Saturday, April 23, I will run my 13th half-marathon in Nashville and my 15th overall. I don’t write that to hear, “great job, Joe.” Oh no. It is much grander than that. On this same Saturday, someone who has been training for months and months will also run in the half-marathon. Not just that one person, but many will be making their way through the streets of Nashville and wonder to themselves as they hit mile 8 with 5 more to go, “can I finish? Was it worth it? Why am I doing this?”
I will tell you why. Same reason I ran the first one and the same reason I will run five of these in 2022. All because I was told, many times, that you can’t do it. That you are too fat and won’t make a mile. That you are wasting your time. You name the put down, I probably heard it.
Let’s go back to the “you can’t do it,” for a second. Those words came from people that I considered good friends and yes, I know some were probably joking but it absolutely fueled me in amazing ways. Other first time marathon runners have told me that no one believed in them and self-doubt called them more than the car warranty people. As I have often said, take the “t” out of “can’t” and it changes how you approach everything. Everything.
I tell people that you will think about quitting at least 13 times because that is how many miles are in a half-marathon. Then I tell them, you see the end and this is where it gets spiritual. They ask what that is. I tell them that something happens to you when you cross that finish line. Something amazing happens to you and only you know what that is. It will happen again and again as you run more half-marathons but that first time, when you cross the line, it is an amazing feeling. You won’t be able to describe it to those who have not done it, but you will know.
As I approached my first half back in 2005, I was given this great piece of advice before I crossed the starting line. It has stayed with me ever since and it is so simple, almost comical, but it was and has been massively powerful to me. Just run. That is it. Just run. Simple as can be and that makes it even better.
I wrote a few months ago that God has given us everything we need to succeed in anything we want to do and that part two of that is going out and making it happen. Go and make it happen. Those three words that I have written down in so many places. If you want to run a marathon, hike the Appalachian trail, climb a mountain, make it happen and go do it.
Remember, thousands will hit the streets of Nashville on April 23rd and everyone started at the same spot. Not physically, but mentally. When you decided to do it and never looked back.
And when you cross that finish line, you will never be the same person that started that race, because something wonderful will happen inside of you.
Now just go run.