I Didn’t Plan To Run A Marathon

It’s the first weekend of January and my husband and I are at Disney World to run the Half Marathon. His family is there too, running it with us. We’ve been training for months. And the weekend had finally arrived. We were excited for the culmination of our preparations. On race day we were getting ready in the wee hours of the morning when the race was cancelled due to incoming thunderstorms. Disappointment sets in.

Trying not to let discouragement get the better of us, we considered our options. Option 1: exchange our race registration for Disney credit or park passes, but we already had passes. Option 2: transfer our registration to another half marathon in the next 2 years, which would mean another trip to Florida. While this sounds fun, it left us feeling unfulfilled and dispirited. Or option 3: transfer to the full marathon scheduled for the next day. We wanted to race, but jumping from a half marathon to a full marathon without the proper training held great risk of injury. It was decision time. We weighed our options and concluded that with careful pacing and not caring how long it took for us to finish, we could attempt the full marathon the next day. Though risky, option 3 held great reward.
As we shivered while waiting in our corral to begin our 26 mile journey, we sought advice from the veteran marathon runners around us. How do they pace themselves? How much should we drink and eat along the way, and when? Any other advice? To our delight, they were eager to impart their knowledge to us– newcomers to the world of full marathon running. “Pacing is everything.” “Drink at every hydration station, whether you feel thirsty or not.” “Drink the sports drink, not the water, to ensure you are getting enough electrolytes.” “Only drink the few ounces of liquid they give you at each station, no more.” “Here are where the few hills are, so you can anticipate them…” “Eat your sports gels before you think you need it, otherwise it’s too late.” “Miles 16-18 are the worst in every marathon. You’ll feel terrible through them, but know that you aren’t alone in that feeling and that you’ll get through it.” We soaked up as much advice as we could. Our corral had moved to the starting line. We wished each other good luck, and the starting gun sounded.

Through the race, my husband and I stuck together, paced ourselves carefully and discussed and implemented all the knowledge gained from fellow runners. An unexpected advantage while running on the course that we never enjoyed during training, was the cheering from spectators. It’s hard to imagine how much the simple act of strangers clapping and encouraging us boosted our energy and morale!

Even though we were initially hit with the setback of the cancelled half marathon, we ended up having a very successful trip. We carefully considered our alternative options and once we chose one, we sought advice of those more experienced than us. Using this newly gained knowledge, we were able to run a successful race with an added bonus: beating the time goal we’d set for ourselves.
While running might seems like it has nothing to do with construction, there are many parallels we can draw to successful projects. Building projects aren’t a sprint from pre-con to closeout, they’re carefully planned and paced marathons:

  • Attitude is everything. When expectations change, attitude and will are key to recalculating the next step and new goal
  • Evaluate risk. Taking the time to assess risks in various options when plans must change allows the team to formulate a complete plan and get the needed buy-in
  • Seek advice form Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Having the humility to admit you need the wisdom of those with more experience, opens new knowledge and help you make the right decisions
  • Strength from your team. Drawing upon one another to keep the pace going, keeps the project going
  • Encouraging one another. It’s important to give encouragement where its due. And when you received it, accept/appreciate it, don’t deflect praise. It helps to keep morale strong all the way to completion

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