Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Choosing Where to Focus

I was registered to run the Rock 'N Roll Philadelphia half marathon this past Sunday. However, due to having mono all summer, I was not in any shape to race this one. More importantly, I am being strategic about my build up and even jog-walking the 13.1-mile distance would not at all be prudent for my health.

Thus, I went to Philadelphia to cheer for Greg and my Capital Area Runners teammates.

Before I even left the house on Saturday, I told myself that I was going to remain positive all weekend. I did not want to spend the weekend depressed about my circumstances. I wanted to truly enjoy the weekend, truly support my husband, and not compare myself to anyone running. Once again, mono has provided me with the opportunity to work on things that are challenging for me. Even though I'm not at a point where I can improve my physical ability, I certainly can work on some of the key areas that I often struggle with.

It really comes down to focus. Where do I choose to focus my attention and my mental space? I could choose to focus on things that would only make me miserable. Examples of this (things to steer clear of) are speculating on the time I would have run if I had been able to train all summer, my current inability to cover a half-marathon distance, and what times I will run once I start racing again. I told myself that I would not think about these things during the weekend. But in order to NOT think about something, you need to have a focus point to replace those negative thoughts. I chose to focus heavily on:

  • Supporting Greg throughout the entire weekend and doing whatever I could to help him.
  • Cheering for Greg, my teammates, and other random runners during the race (I love cheering for randoms. The look on their faces is great when I call them out as looking strong!)
  • Taking photos of Greg and my teammates that I could later send to them
  • Getting to know my teammates better during the pre-race dinner on Saturday night. 

Greg at mile 4.2.
It worked like a charm! I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, Greg ran a fantastic race and I got to participate in the event by cheering and taking photos! And actually, it wasn't hard to do. Once I told myself that I would focus on the four things mentioned above, it was pretty easy to get wrapped up in Greg's race, the enjoyment of spectating and the task of taking photos.

Unfortunately, the fully-charged battery on my good camera died early on, so most of the "action" photos were taken with my cell phone camera. But they still came out okay and my coach used them in the weekly team newsletter. That made me happy. 

Some of my teammates offered me condolences and sympathy for not being able to race. They assured me that they knew how hard it was to not be able to be out there racing. I really appreciated how supportive these particular teammates were being. And the way I felt when they said these things really solidified something for me. I'm okay with it. Yes, it's hard not being able to run, but actually not that hard. I have felt a greater sense of despair with other injuries and illnesses far less severe than mono simply because I didn't have the tools to cope effectively with them. I actually enjoyed the entire weekend quite easily because my focus was exactly where it needed to be.

I learned that you don't have to be running in a race to be a participant in the event. And you don't have to be physically training to improve yourself as an athlete.


  1. Great post! Thanks so much for going to Philly and getting so many great pictures, I know everyone really appreciated it!

    More importantly, I'm glad you enjoyed yourself!

  2. I love your attitude, Elizabeth. Recently, I've become more and more convinced of the power of positive thinking. It seems to have worked like a charm for you! When I recovered from my heat stroke, followed by my dog attack, I had to miss 2 races that I had really looked forward to. I ended up volunteering at one and had a blast. My teammates were supportive, as well. I think this solidifies my appreciation for the sport and love for the running community. I mean, if you can still love it while NOT doing it? THAT says something. I hope your recovery is going well. I know there's a silver lining in there!

  3. Wonderful! That's a no-lose attitude and will serve you well as you come back - and you are coming back now, this is so exciting! Was so special to see you and give a hug last Sunday, I hope to do that again at a "real" race one of these days.

  4. I'm glad to hear that you had a fun time in Philly. It was great to have you there spectating!

  5. Hey there, just found you! Bummer to be sidelined, but awesome you get to share w/ your husband. We have the same running-partnership-marriage too. It's awesome :)

  6. Good for you! You're getting way better at staying positive! I usually find it hard to spectate when I can't race too, but I've also found that spectating is actually really fun.