Don’t Go It Alone

11 Mar

In 2007, I decided that I wanted to run a marathon. The  previous year, I had run in the TC 10 mile race, the longest I had ever run in my life. The 10 mile race is held on the same day as the TC Marathon, a race that is a big deal in the Twin Cities. The race starts in downtown Minneapolis, winds its way around the lakes, and over to the other twin city,  St. Paul, where it crawls up the beautiful and historic tree-lined Summit Avenue boulevard. On race day, Summit Avenue is packed with spectators, with many of the mansions along the boulevard hosting race day parties. The atmosphere is festive, with home-made signs, families and friends gathered to cheer-on their loved ones, people handing out beer to the racers (this sounded awful to me when I was running), and live bands. It is infectious, and after finishing the 10 mile race, I gave myself little time to celebrate my accomplishment, and instead started immediately thinking about the marathon.

When I made the decision that I wanted to run, I approached it as I have many things in life. Once I set my mind on something, whether it be studying abroad, working at a ski resort in Colorado, going to graduate school, or running a marathon, I just figure out how to get it done. So, I went online and looked up training programs for marathons. I found a training schedule that was well-regarded, printed it out, and put it on my fridge. I read about what to eat when training, what types of goo to get, precautions for injuries, and other tips for first-time runners. Everyday I would check off the runs on my schedule, and make sure that I was eating properly and staying hydrated.

It was easy at first to stick to the schedule and complete the runs. Often I would get up early and run by the river before work. Summer mornings in Minnesota are stunning, and I cherished these early morning peaceful runs. At first I enjoyed the solitude of the runs, but as the schedule progressed, and I was doing longer runs, it wasn’t as much fun to be running alone. Luckily, I knew someone from my soccer team who was also training. He was an experienced marathoner and our pace was similar enough that it made sense to train together. I still did my shorter runs solo, but we trained together on the longer runs. I supported him through a 20 mile race when he was having leg cramps, and he supported me on the most important run, race day.

Race day was in October, an unpredictable month for weather in Minnesota. As it turned out, race day 2007 was the hottest day in TC marathon history. The race was on the same day that the Chicago marathon was called off due to the heat. Nevertheless, I was excited for the race that I had spent months training for, and I couldn’t wait to get running.

A few miles into the race, I started to get concerned. I do not do well with heat, and it was already starting to affect me. Only a few miles into the race and I was already having to stop periodically to cool my body down. By the third lake (this is Minnesota after all), runners were starting to drop out of the race due to the heat. I started to get worried that I had trained all this time and wasn’t going to make it to the finish line. If I was going it alone, I am not sure that I would have made it. My running partner stayed with me the whole race, stopping as much as I needed to, and graciously sacrificing his own time to get me to the finish line. At about mile 16 I was fighting back tears because I thought that I may not make to the finish line before the cutoff. But, as soon as I got to Summit Avenue, I knew I had made it. The final mile of the race was emotional as I ran down the last hill toward the capitol. I was so happy and proud of what I had accomplished. But, I didn’t get there alone. I got there because of the encouragement and support of my running partner.

What does this have to do with unemployment? Being unemployed and looking for a job is a marathon. Actually, it is a lot more difficult that running a marathon. But, just like running a marathon, you’ll more likely accomplish your goal if you don’t try to get there  alone. Being unemployed can be very isolating, especially if you live alone, and it is so important connect with others and ask for what you need. Find a job support group in your area or connect with others online (hint hint Savvy Career Forums). Join an unemployed meetup group if there is one in your area. Tell your friends and family what type of support you need. If they haven’t been through this, they have no idea what you are going through and what you might need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Millions are Americans are dealing with the same thing, and there is no shame in being unemployed. I had reservations about starting this blog, and broadcasting my situation, but it has already helped me connect with others. One of the main reasons I started the blog was to bring people together to share their stories, learn from each other, celebrate succeses, and help one another. We all need support along the way. Sometimes you just need to hear that you are not alone in dealing with this.

You will finish the marathon. It may feel like more than 26.2 miles, but you will get to the finish line if you don’t go it alone.

photo credit: alexkess via photopin cc

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3 Responses to “Don’t Go It Alone”

  1. Vishnu March 11, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    hey LIsa – great point on never doing things alone. It’s hard sometimes ( a lot of times) to reach out because you’re kind of a very low point (you feel like) and don’t want want to appear overly needy on others during the times when you really need them in your life. I guess the lesson for me (which I had to find out hte hard way) was you’re always better of getting help and people are willing to help me. It’s just a matter of being vulnerable enough to ask for the help. For job hunting, marathons and life in general.

    Congrats on having done that marathon! Not too many people can ever say they’ve done that:)

    • Lisa M. March 11, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

      Thanks Vishnu. Yes, it is hard sometimes to be vunerable but so important to be willing to ask for help. I too have found that people are willing to help as best they can.

  2. churlgirl March 11, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    Great story, and great analogy. I can’t agree more that you are much more likely to succeed in running a marathon, and in finding a job, if you enlist all the help you can get. Another reason to enlist others – peer pressure makes it much easier to stick to your goals, whether they be completing training runs or making networking calls.

    Blogging about my own job search has made me feel more accountable as well as more connected to others (who often have great suggestions and encouragement), so I agree with you on that front, too.

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