In 2014 I ran the NYM raising $30K for charity. I spent 12 months preparing and, in this picture, I'm running through Harlem.
Why New York and the marathon changed my life.
This was the moment I was awoken to leading a purposeful life, focusing on contribution rather than gain.
Nine weeks before the marathon I had a level 2 tear to my calf muscle and was told it would be near impossible to run. Determined, my physio and I worked intensely through a program that had me back up and running. Three weeks out, I did it again. That’s when he announced through my uncontrollable sobbing, there would be no marathon!
But when we landed, New York lifted me, I knew I had to give it a shot even if I didn’t go the full 42 kms. It was a goal I had intensely trained all year for, and I was used to pushing towards my goals no matter the personal cost. I had also committed to a lot of people who donated, and that key factor got me through, shifting my perspective forever. It would be the start of a new journey and future, leading to PeopleQ in 2018.
We started over the bridge from Staten Island waiting in freezing conditions from 4am. The wait stressed the importance of timing and structure, and as I was running alone, I met many strangers, listening to their stories which broadened my perspective and compassion for humanity.
I grew to understand the gift of conversations with strangers.
I ran through Brooklyn immersing myself in the views of Manhattan and the energy of the 1000s of people around me to propel me forward.
When we fully immerse ourselves in the moment, we stop thinking about what’s left to do.
We ran by a church filled with soul singers and whilst everyone else kept running, I was compelled to pause my goal for a moment and show appreciation for the beauty in their voices. Their soulful voices carried me for the next few kms washing over the pain that was building with a vengeance.
How often in the workplace do we focus on what’s to be done rather than pausing to express appreciation for the value of someone’s contribution?
As I reached the bridge to cross over to Manhattan I slowed to a crawl, the Tylenol was wearing off and my back almost frozen in place. I limped to the medical tent at the halfway point, they strapped me with ice, dosed me with more Tylenol and suggested the run was over. I was there 30+ minutes when my husband rang (intuitively knowing what had happened), he told me they were waiting for me in Harlem (12 kms away), and that the kids wanted to see me run by - he strategically picked the spot knowing if he got me there, I would do the rest. He was right. That call lifted me and it's when I truly comprehended the role others can play in your most difficult moments, to
lean on them for support, as prior to this I thought asking for help was a sign of incompetence.
I also realised that breaking goals down helped minimise overwhelm as our minds work better when we break it into parts. And how a desire to be a role-model for others helps you dive head first into challenges. And,
all this combined builds resilience.
This is my husband taking a photo of me as I reached them in Harlem. Shortly after I was back in the medical tent begging and crying for more Tylenol even though I had reached my quota. Persistence pays and it's amazing how words filled with genuine emotion might influence others. I was on the home stretch, a few kms left, I had to
Having lost my father at a young age and suffering through an abusive first marriage in my 20s I was no stranger to the power of mindset, story telling, self-belief and determination in navigating challenging times. My marathon experience was on a different level, perhaps because in my 20s I was living behind a mask, whereas now I was living into who I knew I was meant to be. The stories I told myself to get to the finish line became character building moments and the critical role people played whilst I was in the thick of it changed how I leaned on others forever. I also didn’t want to let people down who had donated money to a worthy cause, The Little Heroes Foundation, they expected me to finish.
So I anchored to this story.
I was in agony crossing the finish line, yet experienced a sense of joy and accomplishment like never before, my energy lifting (I still had an 8km walk to my hotel) and I knew in this moment
life needed to be about something more than personal gain, and that was going to fill my cup.
Being purposeful blasted through me like a tornado.
I love New York, it's a glorious state and I'll never forget how this marathon was the start of a more purposeful life and journey. These experiences inform the person I am when working with our clients to deliver powerful leadership programs that support leaders to inform their own journey.