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Lessons learned from running my first-ever marathon in a pandemic.

Last week, I did something I honestly never thought I would do, I ran my first marathon, 26.2 miles. Seeing as how it was a pandemic, I did strength training in my living room, ran laps around my neighborhood to train, and for the actual race, I plotted my course, created aid stations, and then ran. I ran through neighborhoods, light industry parks, over freeways, and waited at traffic lights. There was no corralling with other runners to wait to cross the starting mat, no exciting and loud music, just the simple click of my running watch, and my marathon started. There were no people on the side of the course with humorous signs or ringing cowbells. No volunteers at water stations encouraging you. It was just me, the sound of my feet hitting the pavement and meeting my bestie at four placed I thought best to stock up on fuel, hydration, and smiles. As I came within the final mile of the course,

there was no sound of runners being called across the finish line, now crowds cheering, no music. Just me watching the miles accumulate on my watch. The finish line was not filled with crowds of well-wishers or volunteers to give you a medal, a bottle of water, and a banana. It was the final click of my runner's watch, the sidewalk in my neighborhood, and a huge bouquet from my bestie. And it was AMAZING!!!

The journey getting to the finish line was filled with many, many lessons. Here are a few that directly apply to credit unions weathering

the pandemic;

1. Not on the radar.

The year began with very little indication that this would be a year of a marathon or a pandemic. I had only started running half marathons four years ago a was so sore and tired after I crossed the finish line for the first time, I nearly cried as a pulled off my shoes. Similarly, credit unions have solid disaster relief plans, but very few, if any, had a pandemic plan.

2. Finding the opportunity

Once I realized that travel was over for a while, my excuse to not pursue a marathon also vanished. Likewise, once credit unions learned working remotely was productive, the shift to maximizing the online experience became not a "nice to have" but a "must-have."

3. Making the plan

Next was exploring what was need to go after the goal. The marathon was a training plan (acquired online), a strength routine that could be done in my living room and running routes around my home. For credit unions, it was re-arranging strategic priorities and moving

digital transformation plans to the top of the list.

4. Pivots, and pivots some more

When I started training for this in April, I planned for early September to be my race day. After navigating an injury, time off because we all just needed to get in an RV for a week for our sanity, the end of October became the official race day. Similarly, credit unions didn't just start functioning in a new pandemic landscape without fits, starts, and pivots. This new business climate has been unsteady at best and wholly upside-down and inside-out at its worst. But credit unions have kept their doors opens, continued to fund loans, and improving member's lives regardless of what the world tossed at them.

5. Defining Success

As the run distance started getting longer, and the routes felt monotonous and repetitive, I had begun to ask myself why I was doing this? Why was I spending all this time? And the answer was because I could. The success was not about getting a medal or crossing a finish line to a cheering crowd. It was the other way around. When so many who have had a horrible year would have liked to have the luxury of a challenge like this, success isn't necessarily about getting what you want, but rather wanting what you have. Likewise, credit unions have new member experience journeys that provide omnichannel experiences that did not exist back in January. While the path to accomplishing this goal was not a smooth as desired, it was accomplished and, more importantly, providing new ways to improve member's lives in times of deep need.

You have everything you need to succeed; just look around.


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