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Overcoming 'The Wall'

Karen Murray had to "hobble" up when I "asked" her to volunteer for a part of the Stoke the Fire Within presentation in Scottsdale, Arizona.


You see, Karen had run a 26.2 mile marathon the day before.


Karen is the Corporate Compliance Manager for Rite of Passage of Minden, NV. They are made up of one of the most determined executive teams I have ever seen. They have their annual executive committee Retreat in Phoenix each year so that just about all of them can run in the Phoenix Marathon or Half Marathon. They arrive on Saturday, run on Sunday, and then meet Monday to Thursday to firm up their goals and vision for the year.


As one who studies high achievers, I was curious as to how Karen got past "The Wall," that part of a marathon that feels like you have run into a wall. The story she shared with me gives me goosebumps about the fire that we have within us . . . and about the power of encouraging words!


Karen had run 3 Half Marathons, but this was to be her first full one. Going into the run she had prepped herself for how hard this would be. She went through three months of training every other day for 3 miles and one day each weekend for up to 18 miles. Karen told herself how much she hurt when she did her first Half Marathon and prepared herself for double the pain. She was okay with knowing she would experience pain. For her it was all about finishing and getting that medal that said "Marathon" not Half Marathon.


The night before the run Karen dreamt that she was the last person to finish. When she got to her corral it was #11, the last one...not much of a morning motivator. The race began. She felt great when she finished the first six miles right at an hour! She had been stressing about keeping a good time all through training as she normally runs 12-minute miles, so keeping a 10-minute mile was a huge motivator!


The next big milestone was the Half Marathon marker! Her only thoughts were that she felt so good that she wouldn't have a problem getting through this.... Then at mile 18 a tendon in her knee popped. She went down! The medic station was near by and the paramedic wrapped her leg as best as he could and off she went. She thought to herself "maybe if I walk one mile and run the next I will be okay....the pain was so intense." But, she kept on running!


By mile 21 every muscle and bone in her body felt as though someone threw her down and kicked every inch of her body. Karen was wracked with pain from head to toe.  She could feel the blisters on her feet getting bigger and bigger. She looked down at her hands and arms and they were so swollen you couldn't see one line in her hand, or even one knuckle. She had to loosen her watch two holes because it was so tight. Karen really didn't know how she would get through the next 5 miles.


All of these thoughts were going through her mind as she came upon the water station. At the end of the water station she glanced over at a man with no legs who was handing her a glass of water while telling her what a good job she was doing and to keep up the good work!


At that point Karen's body didn't hurt so bad anymore!. She didn't care about the swollen hands and the blister pain seemed to disappear. She picked up that hurt leg and  finished that marathon, to the very best of her ability, without thoughts of pity, thanks to the man with no legs! 




"What an awesome experience and an commitment to a life time achievement completing a marathon is for me! Five years ago I ran my first mile and competitive 5K. This year I ran my first marathon! A marathon! Me, who couldn't run one mile without walking five years ago. Me, I finished a marathon! It is still hard to believe how perseverance always prevails!"


Because of the fire within her and the encouraging words of the volunteer with no legs, Karen smashed through The Wall and finished her first marathon.


The power of encouragement! It doesn't cost a thing to give and yet it is priceless to receive. George Adams once said "Encouragement is the oxygen to the soul."


That volunteer probably has no idea that he was a reason Karen got through The Wall. When we encourage others, we usually don't know either. All we know is that it is important and needed - especially in today's world!


Way to go, Karen!!



- Charlie Adams, Motivational Speaker
574 807 2279 || Email Charlie