001Yesterday, my brother and I ran the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. With very little training, each of us set off in the morning with a flexible goal. I began the run with an idealistic ambition of keeping up with the 1h45 pace bunny. Within 3 kms, I quickly adjusted that goal as I thought to myself “what the hell am I thinking? I am not trained to keep this pace for another 18 kms!”. So, I dropped back a bit and set a new goal of finishing under 2 hours. I kept my adjusted pace, enjoyed the run and came through the finish line at 1h56. I wasn’t trained for a new personal-best half marathon time, but I was in shape enough to feel good about having done the run. My brother finished 24 minutes ahead of me with a time of 1h32. I am so proud of him.

For those of you that run, or do any kind of long distance endurance sport, you would understand what I mean when I say that a lot goes through your head while you are out there pushing yourself to just keep going. I thought of a lot of things, including: what life would be like if I lived in Toronto, what I was going to do about the stain on my white shirt, how I was going to be able to put together a fundraising event for my work, and whether or not I should sign up for a Spring Half marathon to beat the slower-than-desired pace I was running at in that very moment of self-dialogue.

What also occurred to me was how amazingly lucky all of us running that race were to simply have an experience of accomplishment that day. Approximately 27,000 people ran in that event. Spectators were lined up along every accessible sideline possible. And everyone was there to say “don’t give up”, “keep going! There is a cold beer waiting for you!”, and “who needs those toenails anyway?”.

More so, what occurred to me is that not everyone gets to experience that power of accomplishment. When I was doing counselling with an 18 year old girl last year, I learned a very important lesson of gratitude. She was court mandated to see me for 6 sessions. With a few bumps in the road, she attended and fully participated in all 6 hour-long therapy sessions. At the end of it, in our last session, tears came to her eyes as we were wrapping up. I, in my psychoanalysis of the situation, figured it was a representation of her abandonment struggles and her attachment to people. In my wrong perspective, I thought she was crying cause she was sad to say goodbye to me.

She corrected me. She said to me “I am crying cause this is the first time in my life that I have ever achieved anything meaningful”.

I had never thought about it that way. In the end, it doesn’t even matter what we talked about in our sessions. I encouraged her to keep challenging herself in life to keep creating opportunities to experience that sense of self-pride and joy.

Her therapy sessions were my half marathon.