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Nine years ago I ran the first and only marathon What have i done in my life And just like with entrepreneurship, I didn’t really know what to expect.
He had heard of everything. Stories of heroism and determination. Of sacrifice and pain. From falls and injuries. From triumph. Stories of life, but also of death and despair. Those who had already operated it assured that it was a wonderful and unforgettable experience; Those who would never do it questioned me, making me doubt the wisdom of the deed, the strength of my heart and the risk involved.
Yes, like entrepreneurship.
Every day before sunrise I left the house to hit my mileage, hoping the discipline would be enough to run 42,195 meters at a time. My goal? Do it in less than four hours.
240 minutes. That was the magic number on my head to determine if I was successful or not. The number is based on previous 5K, 10K, or half marathon races and I was happy with that, even though I really had no idea what life would be like after 21 kilometers.
Just like with entrepreneurship.
I didn’t sleep well the night before the marathon. My fear was not to hear the alarm clock. Besides, I couldn’t stop thinking about “the wall”. I panicked: I got to the point in the race where the wear and tear is such that your legs stop responding, it becomes difficult to breathe, and your muscles start to cramp.
That could happen around kilometer 33. The last nine kilometers would be the most difficult.
Not the beginning. Not half. The final stage when you’ve come a long way.
Just like with entrepreneurship.
That early morning in September, I woke up determined but also afraid. The big day had come and the only thing left was to run.
The uncertainty of the first steps
As is so often the case when you take action, I began to move between the two Uncertainty the first few kilometers next to a lot of runners. I passed some and others passed me. At first I felt pressured and tried to follow a rhythm that wasn’t my own, but gradually I found my cadence and started my career without paying attention to others.
I started enjoying it.
The city looked great and it seemed to me that the people watching me from the sidewalks always encouraged me to keep going. As if running was an endeavorSome looked at me with admiration. As if there was something unique in my act. Something superhuman and inspiring that only a few can reserve.
And yet, after kilometer 21 – halfway – my legs felt tired. The smile in the audience seemed less obvious to me and each kilometer became longer and more difficult than the previous one.
Yes, just like entrepreneurship.
I saw the crisis after kilometer 30. There was anger with every step just above my left knee. It hurt and I couldn’t ignore it. On the 33rd, I knew I had injured my leg and was about to hit the dreaded “wall”. And just as it can happen, the perfect plan he had put in place for the race was suddenly upset.
The suffering struck me as absurd. And for the first time since the dream of running a marathon hit me, I began to doubt whether I could finish it. Without thinking too much, from one moment to the next I stopped running and just left …
The corridor and the Coca-Cola
I was thirsty and longing for something sweet and there was no supply station nearby. My body asked me to somehow return the energy that I had taken from it. The tour had taken me to an area of the city that I didn’t know and that looked deserted. There was no one here to encourage me to keep going.
The watch also indicated that more than four hours had passed since the start. I wouldn’t even come close to reaching my 240 minute goal.
And then I saw it.
His outfit was that of a real marathon runner. His red shirt matched his shorts and his body was slim but marked. He didn’t run either. In fact, he walked slower than me. He held a can of Coca-Cola in his hand.
It looked delicious.
When he saw me, he started the conversation.
“How are you?”
-Not correct. I can not anymore.
He smiled as if he had been through this many times. Then he held out his hand for the soda can.
-You want to?
I nodded, and the sip of an ice cold drink from a complete stranger restored my confidence in myself for a moment.
-If you can!
Two words were enough to make me feel like I could run again, and after thanking him for the soda drink, I tried again.
I jogged, walked, and jogged again. So another nine kilometers. I crossed the finish line with a time of 5 hours and 3 minutes, but more satisfied than if I had done my job.
The real marathon
Today is little more than a year in which, after losing my job, I made the decision to try my luck as self-employed and independent consultant. I have no way of knowing if I have reached kilometer 33 of my route, but the fact is that there are days when I feel like I am right there with an injured knee, in front of the “wall” and with that Doubt about being able to reach the goal around my head.
But just like that day and despite the tiredness, I kept moving, moving step by step forward and always looking straight ahead, confident that someone will offer me a drink of your soda when I think that I can’t go on, a word of encouragement or a simple tip.
Now that I think about it, it has always been like this. In the most difficult moments, in the moments of doubt, someone always appears who, with a few words, will restore your confidence in yourself.
Because that happens in marathons and startups. And yes, in life too.