Wednesday, May 8, 2013

13.1 or life?

In the middle of August, 2012, I began running again after having not run in 6 years.  My goal was a 5K in October, which I achieved.  Little did I know when I started that these running goals would become very symbolic to me.  At the risk of sounding deep or philosophical or crazy or whatever, I've decided to share some bits about this very personal journey.

When I first began a plan to be able to run a 5K again, my motivation was to feel better physically.  What I didn't realize was how my running journey would parallel my life journey in so many ways.  After running that 5K, I signed up for a 15K (9.3 miles) to challenge myself with a distance I'd never done.  And then I determined that if I could do that distance, I needed to stay consistent through the winter so that I could run my first half marathon, which I had always wanted to do.  I had no idea that the training & these races would coincide with some of the most difficult days of my life.  Over these last several months, my husband has had a surgery that had some lingering complications, my father-in-law passed away, our family has experienced some not fair things at the hands of others that have caused some serious amounts of stress, other family members we love so much have struggled with the onset of health problems, & in the midst, life has still been going on.

On some days, running became an escape.  On other days, it became a time to pray & process.  It would have been easy to quit because I certainly had plenty of reasons to be derailed from a training program.  Like I said earlier, though, it became more symbolic.  Like life, running can have moments of "highs" that are so amazing you just never want them to end.  And also like life, running can have moments that just plain suck.  They hurt, they disappoint, they are hard.  You can feel like you are in a valley staring up at a huge hill to tackle, so there's two choices:  You either quit or you put one foot in front of the other.

I ran my first half marathon this past Saturday.  Like life, it didn't go exactly how I had hoped.  My hope was to finish in 2 hours & 10 minutes, which I was on track to do until about mile 5 (I was at a 9:45 pace at that point).  Unfortunately, on a taper run early in the week, I tripped (I know, graceful, right?) & pulled my left hamstring as I was trying to catch myself from doing a face plant right in front of 2 ladies walking into work (I had them completely freaked out because they thought this crazy chick was going down!).  I took the rest of the week off hoping it wouldn't bother me.  Well, about mile 6 it was talking to me pretty good & I wasn't even halfway through.  Two choices:  Quit or put one foot in front of the other.  Like life, I opted to make some adjustments & keep going.  I wanted to finish the race.

Somewhere between mile 9 & 10, I started noticing a lot of people stopping to walk.  I began hitting a bit of a wall myself.  It's so easy in life to buy into the negative self-talk (What makes YOU think YOU can do THIS??).  After having been on 4 adoption journeys, I know those thoughts all too well.  So I prayed, "Lord, help me focus."  Nothing elaborate, but sometimes in life, that's all you can muster, & God's okay with that.  One foot in front of the other.  Keep running the race.

Something about hitting mile 11 was good for my soul.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel.  I'm doing this.

Mile 12 was emotionally hard because there was a first aid station, & several runners had stopped for help.  I don't like seeing people struggle.  I wanted them to finish.

One foot in front of the other.  And then there they were.  In the middle of all the people, in the midst of all the noise, there was my family, cheering me on.  I hope for the rest of my life, that sight & that feeling never leaves my heart & mind.  I was finishing the race.

(These are pre-race photos with the family)

I finished in 2 hours 16 minutes, just a few minutes off of what I'd hoped.  But I finished.  Like these last few months, there were moments that I felt like I was limping along.  But there were also amazing moments mixed in that spurred me on.  Life is hard sometimes, but we're in a race that God gives us the strength & endurance to finish.  It's not a sprint, it doesn't always feel good, sometimes you trip, but there is beauty along the way.  One foot in front of the other.

"We must run the race that lies ahead of us & never give up."  ~Hebrews 12:1


Alicia said...

This made me cry because I so get it! I am so proud of you! And I know you will continue to finish well on so many levels.

Sharon said...

"Life is hard sometimes, but we're in a race that God gives us the strength & endurance to finish. It's not a sprint, it doesn't always feel good, sometimes you trip, but there is beauty along the way." I love this. So thankful for your encouragement in life.