“Do you see the large blue and orange structure up ahead Caroline?” David said to me with 300m left to go. I nodded and possibly muttered a quick “yes.” “That is the finish line, Caroline. You are about cross the finish line.” Just then I see an orange shirt, an orange bow and a ponytail wagging as my girlfriend, Betsy, picks up some speed and dashes ahead of me towards the finish line. I follow her lead, muster up some energy and pick up my speed. But I can’t quite catch up to her. She finishes 5 seconds ahead of me.
Why am I sharing this with you? Why does this matter?
Here’s why. Because up until that very moment, I was the faster runner of the two of us. I trained consistently for this marathon since July without hiccups. I ran 4 times a week, did speed runs on Tuesdays, long runs on Saturdays, not to mention supplementing with cross training. I have long legs and a slim frame. By design, I’m a runner.
On the other hand, my girlfriend did have some hiccups along the way. She had surgery in early July which made it impossible to start her training at the same time as I did. In fact, when she did start running again, she could not even complete 3 miles because she had lost all of her previous conditioning. A few weeks into her training, she began suffering of knee pain. Severe knee pain. She had to stop running and go see an orthopedic surgeon and a chiropractor. And then there was the traveling. She had trips planned, vacations, holidays, you name it. As the clock ticked and the days passed, she became increasingly worried that she would not have the time to complete her training to run this marathon. All the while, I kept training and getting stronger…and faster.
At some point my friend decided enough was enough. If she was going to run this marathon, she had to get serious about her plan. She committed to the plan. She sat down with her calendar and the marathon training plan I had emailed her (which I too was following) and she devised her own plan according to the time she had left. There would not be room to go up in miles and down in miles week after week as I had been doing, so instead she would incrementally increase her mileage each week until she caught up to me. As for the knee pain, she saw her chiropractor regularly, googled videos on running using proper form and ordered the natural supplements our doctor suggested she use for inflammation. She paid attention and followed instructions. She, too, started getting stronger and faster. Oh, and she did one more thing…
She routinely and consistently visualized herself and repeated “I will run by Caro’s side the entire marathon. I will not stay behind.”
There is no question that Betsy is an athletic person. She has always been in great shape and has been exercising for many years. In fact, during our training, we ran together most of the time at the same speed. But when the miles started piling on and we started getting tired, I was always ahead. Sometimes a little bit, sometimes a lot. Now let me make something very clear. Marathon running is a competition against yourself. Completing a marathon (particularly your first marathon) is the accomplishment. The time is irrelevant. More importantly, Betsy and I were not competing against each other. This was not about who was going to finish first. But Betsy did have a concern. She was running this marathon in honor of MY DAD. This was something she was doing for me. It was important to her to see me cross that finish line. I felt the same way when I ran the half marathon in honor of her daughter. I didn’t care about personal records or about time. I wanted to hold her hand across that finish line and say “I did this for you because I love you and I honor your daughter and the life she lived.” And that I did. So for her it was about not losing sight of me. She wanted to keep up or keep up just enough…that she saw me raise my hands and cross. That was her way of saying…”I did this for you because I love you and I honor your father and the life he lived.” And that she did.
I digress. Betsy began visualizing herself by my side the entire marathon, and most importantly, crossing the finish line with me (or maybe ahead of me). She would repeat over and over again what her goal was, to keep up with me the whole time. She put this vision out into the universe and used self hypnosis and visualizations to see it happen. By January 24, 2016, Betsy had crossed that finish line with me (or ahead of me) hundreds of times. And low and behold, on that day, we paced each other the ENTIRE time. She would speed up, and I would catch up. Moments later I would speed up, and she would catch up. We enjoyed this yo-yo dance for 26.2 miles until the very last 5 seconds when her visualization became a reality. Betsy finished ahead of me, just in time to turn around and see me raise my hands and cross the finish line. Just in time to say “This one’s for your old man.”
Betsy proved to me that day the good ole’ saying…”most of it is mental.” Taking all the cold facts and our trajectories, I should have, at some point, left Betsy behind in the run. But Betsy’s mind is even stronger than her body. Her mind was not going to let that happen, and therefore, her legs obeyed.
This is not to say that you can get away with just seeing results in your head. You have to put quite a bit of work into achieving the results you’re looking for. But people underestimate the power of the mind. You have to train your subconscious to work in your favor. So when you’re fatigued or your physical capacity has gone as far as it can, or outside factors play a role, your mind will do the rest and get you through that finish line. Betsy’s run was an inspiration and a true lesson in the power of the mind. These were principles my father lived by. These principles helped my father live a rich, strong, healthy life despite his 17 year battle with cancer. There was no way Betsy could have honored him more than to put these principles into practice in her own life.
Now I ask you, do you see your finish line? Is it weight loss, or reducing debt, or a successful relationship? I invite you to identify your finish line and begin the process of visualizing the results you’re looking for. SEE IT. Talk yourself into BEING IT… even if at the beginning you’re faking it. And then do your part. Take the steps that need to be taken to achieve those results. Pay attention, follow instructions, and follow your plan. And then leave the rest to the universe. After all, the universe works in mysterious ways.