Archive for the ‘And I ran…I ran so far away’ Category
Once upon a time, there was a girl who wasn’t a runner. She decided one day to start not running and she didn’t like it so much, she kept not doing it. After awhile, another friend started not running with her, and eventually – in January, 2012 - they didn’t run a 5K together: The American Cancer Society’s inaugural Relay for Life Fight Back 5K.
The next year, the two of them decided not to run this same 5K again, but this time with their families. On this chilly, grey winter morning, they didn’t get up early and meet at Stonebridge United Methodist Church for the American Cancer Society’s 2nd annual Relay for Life Fight Back 5K.
The girl who doesn’t run didn’t stand in line to pick up her son’s registration packet, and she didn’t help him get his bib number attached to the front of his sweatshirt.
Her friends and family didn’t stand in the cold, impatiently waiting for the starting gun’s signal.
When the gun sounded, the girl who doesn’t run started out first. Knowing that she *really* hadn’t run in over a month, her main concern was simply finishing. She *really* wasn’t trying for a personal record, and since last year’s event ended with plantar fasciitis in both feet, she knew she would easily beat her previous time. But also recognizing the significance of this cause – fighting back against cancer – and having a personal connection to it, she also wanted to push herself…to “fight back” in her own way. The course was hilly and challenging, every step reminding her why she doesn’t run. But as she found herself surrounded by other non-runners, she discovered that strength, that desire, that thirst for victory, for personal achievement, for making it count.
So she didn’t push herself to run hard, and she didn’t keep running when she felt like walking, and she certainly didn’t dig deep running up those steep hills.
And when she didn’t cross the finish line at exactly 32:00, it wasn’t a mere 30 seconds off her official PR from last year. She certainly wasn’t proud of herself.
Her husband wasn’t pumped about the chance to participate in his very first 5K.
And he definitely wasn’t excited to do his victory dance over cancer.
Her family didn’t enjoy the chance to walk/run with friends along the course.
And when they didn’t cross the finish line, they certainly weren’t proud of their accomplishments…or ready for the breakfast of champions at McDonald’s.
In fact, it wasn’t so much fun, they can’t wait to not do it again next year, when perhaps they’ll all be a little better at not running.
I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.
Those words, made famous by Scottish runner Eric Liddell in the movie “Chariots of Fire” don’t begin to describe me. While I do believe that God made me for a purpose, I can’t say that He made me fast. In fact, he made me more like a Clydesdale than a thoroughbred. And most of the time, I certainly *don’t* feel His pleasure – or any other pleasure – when I run. In actuality, the pleasure comes after the run, as in “I’m SO happy I’m done running!” or “Yay! I can take a shower now!”
Yet it’s been 18 months now since I first set foot on a treadmill – on a whim – to see if I could, in fact, run one complete mile. Now I’m up to over 6 miles, running an hour straight and have completed several 5K’s and one 10K and am actually contemplating training for a half-marathon.
Yikes. Who am I and what have I done with myself?
Today marked an anniversary of sorts. It was one year ago this weekend that I ran my very first 5K. My good friend Jacqueline agreed to go with me and run at *my* pace, which was significantly slower than hers. We honored the memory of another friends’ precious little baby by running that 5K, a beautiful little girl who lost her battle to leukemia just days before she would have been 9 months old. For both of us, it was our first 5K, an emotional time to remember and honor Allie but also complete a significant personal accomplishment.
I couldn’t wait to do it again this year.
But this year, I would have to go it alone, since my running buddy came down with some nasty flu bug. My goal was to complete the run in 32 minutes or less, beating last year’s time. This would mean running at a 10′ mile pace…or even faster. According to my Dailymile posts, my pace has only been 10′/mi. or faster when I’ve been on the treadmill in the early stages of Couch to 5K, or when I’ve run short distances, like to my weekly Moms in Touch meetings where I have an hour of recovery between the intervals.
Lining up before the race, I was really nervous. For one thing, I was feeling very much alone. Trey was at a youth group retreat and Matt had opted to stay home with Crisana, so I had no cheering section. My running buddy was sick and I didn’t know anyone else there. And then there was my not-so-brilliant plan of having run both Thursday and Friday. Though Friday’s run was short and fairly easy, it was extra mileage on my gimpy ankle. To top it all off, I’d had a somewhat indulgent day of eating on Friday…between a donut at breakfast and gelato in the afternoon and french fries at dinner. I wasn’t sure if my tank was full, and the reserves were well fueled, and how that might affect my pace.
But once the gun went off and the crowd surged forward, I felt all that apprehension fall away. I had nothing to prove to anyone but myself. If I needed to walk for a minute or two, so be it. If my ankle started to hurt too badly, there would be volunteers on the course that could help me get back to my car. And if I can run that miserable hill known as Meandering Way, I can certainly conquer this relatively easy, flat, smooth course on well-paved, 3-lanes-wide city streets.
Out of the gate, I was in the middle of the pack, and with the crowds I was more focused on not running into people or tripping over their feet than I was with my pace. But as I neared Mile 1, what I saw on the timer shocked me. That first digit was a 9! I passed the timer just as the digits rolled from 9:59 to 10:00. But there was no time for celebration, because I knew I had to keep that pace going for 2 more miles.
Mile 2 was a little tougher, with navigating the water station, turnaround, and a long slow incline. At 15′ I hadn’t yet reached the turnaround, and I was concerned that I had fallen well off my pace. But as I began that slow, steady climb I could see the timer at the mile marker and those numbers were still in the teens. While I didn’t quite make it at 20′, I passed that timer at 20:10…not too bad, and still close to my pace.
Now came the hard part. That final mile and the push to the finish line. Thankfully, I found a good pacer in front of me that I could focus on and follow. But I was beginning to feel tired. I wanted to go downhill for a bit. And doggone it if my mp3 player didn’t decide to go all wonky on me. I tried to fix it while still running but the bright sunshine made it hard to see if what I was doing was working so I had to pull off to the side and actually take the darn thing off. By then, my pacer was farther ahead, but I could still keep her in my sights, even if I had no hope of catching up to her.
I made the final turn just before Mile 3 to a sight that disappointed me. The timer, though hard to read, was somewhere in minute 31. I knew it would be hard to get to the finish line in less than 2 minutes…and I had done so well up to that point. But as I turned the final corner, God gave me a burst of energy. Something literally pushed me forward to the finish line. I couldn’t see the timer well – someone’s head was blocking it – but I knew it was still in minute 32. And literally seconds before I crossed it, I saw the number “33:00″ pop up. darn. But I crossed strong, and felt proud to have finished, knowing I gave all I could have given.
The official results say I finished in 33:05 (according to chip time), which is a 45-second improvement over last year’s chip time. My official pace was 10:36, placing me 273 out of a total 763. If I did the math right, which is always a sketchy proposition, that means I ranked 64%, almost in the top third.
The end of a race is always an emotional moment for me as I realize just how grateful I am to have a body that can *do* this. I may not do it as well as some, and I may not look as good as others, but that’s okay. I’m not interested in being the best, but in doing my best…and in bringing pleasure to the One who created me, for His purpose.
I have to share with you a funny story that happened to me today while I was out for my run.
I have a small shuffle player that I listen to while exercising – maybe not as cool as an iPod or iPhone, but it works for me. The only downside is that I can’t create playlists on it, but I’m not much of a playlist kind of girl. In fact, I enjoy being surprised by the often-eclectic mix I hear. I like to think that some days God takes advantage of having a captive audience, when He has something He really wants to say to me.
Well, today was apparently one of “those” days. I had planned to go for one of my 10K training runs: 5 minutes of brisk walking to warm up, followed by 3 18-minute run intervals, with 1 minute walking recovery in between. The course I use when I do these long runs is scenic and beautiful, with large acreage lots and horses and longhorns and two-lane country roads. It’s also very hilly and challenging and pushes me to go beyond what I think I’m capable of doing. Today, I was really struggling. I had run out of gas after the first two run intervals and my hamstrings were unusually sore, so I decided to walk the majority of the last interval. I used that time to pray and talk to God and seek His encouragement. This song came on, and even though it’s one that I’ve heard probably hundreds of times, the words just really spoke to me:
For some reason, this song was just speaking to me in a powerful way. I was crying out to God, “YES!! That’s what I want!! I want to shine like the stars! I want to be YOUR light!” It was a precious time of worship, even in the midst of a failed training run. I just sensed God’s nearness and love and even His pleasure as my heart expressed my deepest desire to Him.
The song ended. My soul was soaring. My heart was overflowing. My spirit was burning. I could hardly wait to hear the next song.
And what should that next song be? “La Bamba.”
Worship. was. over.
The mountaintop experience was gone. Just like that. I had to laugh. I’m pretty sure God was laughing, too. He has a sense of humor, ya know.
But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead endâ€” Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
Well, it’s finally happened.Â 2010 is over and we have now begun our second decade of the new millennium.Â Three hundred sixty-five days now lay spread out before us like an open road with few hints in sight of what lies ahead.Â There is no way to predict what we will meet around the next curve or bend.Â We can’t possibly know the detours and road bumps we will encounter, though we know from experience we’ll face them.Â Yet the refrain I’ve heard repeated again and again during the past week has been one of putting the year 2010 behind us and looking forward to starting over, a fresh beginning…doing a new thing.
I’m right there with you.
A wise yet silly warthog named Pumbaa once said, “You’ve got to put your past in your behind.”Â And while he was a little mixed up on the grammar, he got the sentiment right.Â I’ve made plenty of mistakes this past year.Â I’ve wallowed far too often in self-pity and depression.Â I’ve wasted days and hours that could have been better spent furthering God’s work and His kingdom…or at least accomplishing more of His purpose in my life.Â I’ve faced challenges and difficult moments.Â And while I wouldn’t choose to repeat any of those things, I know each one has a purpose.Â I can learn from my mistakes.Â I can appreciate the joy and wonder of grace more deeply.Â I can refocus my energies and gain an awareness of opportunities God gives me to serve Him daily.Â I can strengthen my faith as I see God work through my circumstances.
So it is with that sense of optimism – that spirit of new beginnings, that freshness of doing a new thing – that I share with you my goals for the year ahead.
Doing a new thing…with my time.
When I returned from Uganda in August, I struggled for several weeks with issues related to re-entry.Â And while some of that is normal for anyone returning from such a life-changing cross-cultural experience, there were days I felt absolutely paralyzed.Â Overwhelmed.Â Unable to reconcile the “here and now” with the “there and then.”Â It was eye-opening for me to realize how much of my time is dictated by “stuff.”Â And while I’ve tried gallantly to fill my schedule with meaningful activism and personal enrichment, I was frankly too busy.Â So this year begins with a new commitment to evaluate my schedule, to pare down the number of activities I’m involved with so that I can be the kind of wife, mother, friend and servant God designed me to be.
*Â Stay involved in our Life Group
* Be part of a women’s Bible study during at least two of the sessions this year
*Â Spend no more than 1 hour/day on Facebook (including time spent playing games), even on weekends
*Â Limit my volunteer activities to 1 hour per day, total (including planning), with no “rollover minutes”
*Â Allow myself 1 hour per day of “personal” time for hobbies such as reading, scrapbooking, or blogging
*Â Structure my daily routine to include time for focused prayer, Bible reading, Bible study, and exercise
Doing a new thing…with my health.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen!Â After reaching a near trifecta of healthy eating, regular exercise and acceptable weight management in September, these past few months have seen a near collapse.Â And although it might seem impossible to manage healthy eating on our shoestring food budget, I’m determined to give it my best shot.Â So beginning Monday, I will be back on the Beach, enduring the induction phase of the South Beach lifestyle.Â This also means a return to regular exercise, including cardio, flexibility, and strength training.Â To complete the trifecta, I will reach my original (as of October 2008) weight-loss goal.Â This year, I plan to make family exercise even more of a priority with regular family bike rides, runs, and outdoor play.
*Â Restart South Beach, and complete my personal South Beach resource notebook complete with menu plans, shopping lists,Â and recipes
* Lose enough weight to reach my original target weight set in August, 2008.Â The official weigh-in will be on Monday, so specific goals will be posted then.Â Then, lose 10 more lbs.
*Â Run 500 miles.
*Â Bike 1,000 miles.
*Â Run a 10K at Run for Cover (April) and Believe (November).Â Continue to run the Heroes for Children 5K (September), Crape Myrtle Trails 5K (October), and Allen Rudolph Run 5K (December) but with a time of 30 minutes or less.
Doing a new thing…with my talents.
Ministry.Â Work.Â God definitely has something up His sleeve in this area, but the time has not been right for Him to reveal that plan to me.Â This is one area where I think I’m going to have to trust Him a little more and follow Him a little harder.Â What I can say at this point is that He has given me the opportunity to take charge in children’s worship, and that my response is to give it my all.Â This will mean taking time to connect with leaders who can provide direction in specific areas, coordinating efforts at various levels, recruiting youth and adults to fill holes, and researching ideas and materials that will inspire children to worship our awesome God.Â It’s a big task, but the God who entrusted me with it is even bigger.Â He is able, He is equipped, and He has already begun the good work He is calling me to do.Â At the same time, He has provided me with wonderful students in my piano studio.Â I must continue to find ways to motivate, encourage, and guide them on their musical journeys.Â It is a job He has called me to do, and one that I must continually seek to improve and grow both as a musician and as an educator.
*Â Establish worship teams for every Sunday in all areas of Promiseland, from Pre-K through 5th grade.
*Â Maintain an enrollment of at least 20 students in Music by DESign in the spring and fall semesters.
It’s a new day.Â It’s a new year.Â With God’s help, I’ll be doing a new thing.
And I’m feeling good.
As you know, I don’t run.
So today, I didn’t run another 5K. I didn’t show up at the Cooper Aerobics Center in McKinney with my family, and I most certainly didn’t meet these four other wonderful ladies there:
I didn’t have my shuffle all loaded, charged and ready to go. I didn’t get all excited as I crossed the starting gate:
And after not doing all that running, you can bet your bottom dollar I didn’t do the victory dance when I made it through the red arches:
My husband and children so weren’t proud of me. I know for sure I wasn’t proud of myself or my accomplishment…and I’m already not looking forward to not doing this again next year.