This piece was originally published in the 2019 Alabama–NW Florida PGA Year in Review.
By: Hayden Lewis, PGA | Manager, Communications & Foundation Development
On November 3, 2019, Hayden set out with nine other PGA Professionals from across the country to raise awareness for PGA REACH, the PGA of America’s 501(c)(3) foundation, by running in the TCS New York City Marathon. Collectively the team was able to raise over $35,000 for the benefit of PGA REACH and its mission of impacting lives through golf.
It’s crazy to look back on this year and think about what it has meant to me. The past few months have taught me how to slow down and enjoy some of the smaller moments that life gives us – to be more patient in times of stress and in the day-to-day busyness that can sometimes seem overbearing.
When I was asked to run in the New York City Marathon with the REACH team, I’ll be honest, I was not super comfortable with the idea of putting my body through the rigorous training a marathon requires. I didn’t know if I could commit fully to the process, especially with my training schedule falling right in line with the Section’s busyness of tournament season. I can remember talking on the phone with my dad about it and him saying, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, you need to take advantage and do it!” So I did.
Once I started, I just wanted to get to the end of training – I was frustrated and frankly overwhelmed at times because I wasn’t seeing the results I expected.
I was impatient.
I think whenever we take on something really big in life – whether it’s in our work, in school or even in our personal lives – our instinct is to get right to the finished product. We rush in to things putting ridiculous timelines on projects or tasks, but in the end those activities just become another checked-off box in life.
I recently listened to a podcast discussing the importance of living in the moment (I know what you’re thinking, “Dang, that’s so cliché and millennial of you, Hayden…”) but hear me out. For me, I worry a lot about what has happened in the past or what will happen in the future. I think it is human nature for us to stress about what we said to someone two weeks ago or how a meeting is going to go three days from now. If you’re anything like me, I focus (probably too much) on the details of those exchanges, and it’s easy sometimes to let it get the best of me.
So, what does all of this have to do with running a marathon? Again, I think it’s sometimes easy to forget about the “in between” – or the process. What is it going to take to get my body ready to run 26.2 miles successfully? This is where I think my patience was tested the most. Of course, I want to be able to go out and complete a long-run successfully right off the bat, but I had to learn how to build my body up to that point. It’s the successes and failures in between where I learned the most about myself and what my body can and can’t take.
I also learned that patience isn’t just about waiting. It’s about actually enjoying the in-between – really sinking in to the highs and lows and living out what it is you learn in those moments. It’s about approaching every run with a confidence of “I’ve got this.” Not necessarily in an arrogant manner, but more in the sense of approaching every run with joy and anticipation knowing there’s a lesson to be learned on the other side. Training to run a marathon will humble you (quickly), but I think humility is one of the keys to staying in the moment and patient no matter the situation.
I can attest to the old saying: Life is a marathon not a sprint. This past year, instead of constantly zipping past activities trying to go down the list of check boxes I’ve been challenged to lead with patience and enjoy the little moments that make up life. It’s a slow-go, but it makes you appreciate the details and relationships that make life beautiful. I think back to how this was my first time in New York City (and while running in the marathon allowed me to see ALL of the city) I think anytime you visit a place for the first time you seem to take in the details more. This is similar to the way I think life should be like for all of us – like you’re visiting a place for the first time and you allow yourself those extra moments to soak in as much as you can!
This year provided some much-needed change to my life and I’m forever grateful what those changes came with. From the big moments to the small details of everyday living, I think it’s important to stop and look up every once in a while. In the end, while I’ll remember the milestone of crossing that finish line in Central Park for the rest of my life, it will be those seemingly mundane 5- or 6-mile runs leading up to race day that helped shape the process.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the race since I finished, and it never fails that the most common one is, “Would you do it again?” In the immediate days following the race my answer was a resounding no. However, looking back on the experience as a whole, there has never been a time in my life where I have learned so much about myself. I think anything is possible after you run a marathon – including running a marathon.