By: Kelly McLay
From an airplane window seat 36,000 feet in the air, directly across from me jetted the Falcon Heavy Rocket as it began the first leg of a long journey into space. The beginning of the Falcon Heavy’s immense journey marked the end of one for me.
I pinched myself. Did that really just happen? Did I run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days?!
I am still in shock. Less than a week ago, I slept between a stack of toilets and a pile of chains on a cargo plane headed for Novolazareskaya (Novo), Antarctica for a journey unlike any other. Novo was the first stop of the 2018 World Marathon Challenge (WMC)—7 marathons, 7 continents, 7 days. As the plane skidded to a stop on the frozen glacial tarmac, the magnitude of the feat that lay ahead hit. Seven days - to get around the world, run the marathons, make it to Miami. I had no idea how I was going to do it, there were so many reasons to say no to this challenge (just had a baby, wasn’t trained, work to do), but I grabbed that rocket ship seat and there was no turning back. My heart was pounding, there were so many layers to this adventure, time zones, temperature changes, flight schedules, recovery, running...and so on. Holy, omg, moly!!
For the past 15 years, running has been ‘my sport.’ At my core, the marathon is my distance. It’s my escape, my fortitude, my happiness, my ambition, and I’m fortunate to also call it my profession. It has literally “launched” me around the world! I have run through infertility, pregnancy, and motherhood. I have said ‘yes’ when opportunities came knocking despite the many reasons to say no. I have proven to those who thought I could not and would not achieve my goals—most importantly myself—that I am smart enough and strong enough to accomplish what I set my mind to. And, to the disdain of critics, I have continued to strive for my goals while starting my family.
Life gives us one chance, it is filled with successes and even more obstacles. On this 7-7-7 journey—from the warm, sunny days of Cape Town to the cold lonely night in Lisbon, from the idea of not finishing in Antarctica after covering only four miles in 100 minutes (a huge thank you Richard Donovan for the lifesaving coat so I could finish!) to surprise myself with a 4:36 finish in Dubai—I was reminded that success is not linear; everyone hits obstacles along any journey.
The lessons of grit and determination earned through running have prepared me for those same challenges in my personal and corporate life. As I crossed the seventh finish line in Miami, all the physical exertion, mental resilience, and passion of the week, and of the naysayers and roadblocks faced, spilled onto the pavement. The week fulfilled every bit of my passion for life, exploration, and growth; building in me a sense of confidence to continue to face the obstacles that lay ahead.
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