Home > Challenges, Running > Why Running a Half Marathon is a Great Career Analogy

Why Running a Half Marathon is a Great Career Analogy

Gynecologic Cancer Foundation RaceOkay. It’s finished. The 13.1 mile race that was dominating the anxiety-driven portion of my brain is over. And it was awesome. Well. Before I completely glorify the experience, I have to say that it was extremely tough. Anyone that runs, or has attempted to run knows that distance is the one thing you can’t really prepare yourself mentally for. Your thighs may be ready, but your head is not. (Sometimes it even works the other way around.) Either way, running is an intense sport. It pins you against yourself in a way that I believe is unmatched.

The race took us in three loops, which was mentally very difficult. As the top, elite runners were finishing, I was beginning my second lap. It was definitely not easy. I finished in a time of 2 hours and 18 minutes.

There are a few observations about this race that I simply have to share:

1) I found it extremely beautiful to run past the Capital the day after the healthcare debate. I am a strong proponent of public option healthcare, and even though I don’t believe that the current plan is perfect, I was happy that the dialogue was thriving. It was especially powerful to run past it for a cause like Gynecologic Cancer, whose treatment has been repeatedly denied by insurance companies.

2) Your positive attitude is really the key to nearly everything. Cliche, I know. But it is the truth. At mile 9, my husband left me to speed up, and I kept on trucking at my 10 minute mile pace, for the last 5 miles by myself. And I smiled through almost all of it. I even laughed at mile 12, when a group of spectators began singing “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky.

3) People in life are really willing to do things for other people. Human capital is absolutely amazing. People cheering on the sidelines, people handing out Powerade and water, people waiting at the finish. They all were there to lend a smile at 7 AM on a Sunday morning.

4) There is something about completing something – start to the very last second of the finish – that is 100% inspiring and beautiful. It was beautiful to do it, and it was beautiful to watch so many different others do it too.

Okay, okay. Now I know that races are easy to write poetry about – but most of the weekend I was miserable. I was anxious and upset, I was imagining injury that I didn’t have (everything from appendicitis to a broken leg), and I barely slept the night before. I couldn’t bring my attitude to the level of belief in myself.

This reminds me of the ways in which I have been approaching my career, and why this blog, Brazen Careerist, and many other things have re-inspired me in ways I never thought possible. That race was the single greatest physical achievement I have done to date. And there is no way for someone else to take credit. No boss leaning over me telling me that it was their work. No negative comments from spectators. Pure adrenaline and living in the moment.

Could I really live my life and job the way I lived my half marathon? Not every second of every day, but maybe in some respects.

Maybe I wouldn’t have the deeply rooted joy that I felt throughout the race, but I would recognize that I can do it if I want to – if I try – and ultimately, that I can make it happen on my own.

After my husband left at mile 9, I was a bit scared. I had no I-pod (I don’t run with it normally, and wound up losing it in the porta-potty at the race) and now no one to run next to. It wound up being good. He didn’t hurt his knee by forcing himself to go at my pace, and I found my rhythm, and he was even there with time to spare to videotape my finish.

In life, a career is kind of like a half marathon in the sense that at the end of the day, you can take credit for all that is yours – and there’s no need to look around you to know what it is you have and haven’t done. There are benchmarks and ideals, but you set them for yourself.

I ran a 15 minute mile in highschool and throughout college. I was teased constantly in gym class because I was one of those skinny girls that was weak – physically and mentally (Or so they thought!)

So I encourage everyone reading this to go out and run – or even walk – a mile. See what you learn, in however long an amount of time it takes for you to learn it.


Categories: Challenges, Running
  1. Ed
    November 9, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Congrats!! That’s so inspiring that you finished. Do you have any plans to run another half-marathon or just to continue running?

    • bethoc
      November 10, 2009 at 11:03 am

      Thanks! Yeah I am running a 10K on Thanksgiving and just overall going to find another half to run. I loved it.

  2. November 11, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Yay! Good for you!

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