The Challenge

I realize I haven’t written much about running lately.  Truth is, all that training and then *not* finishing the marathon was very not fun.  Or not very fun.  Either/or.  Debate the grammar amongst yourselves.

I kinda got disillusioned.  Oh, I still love running.  But it was harder and harder to get up in the morning – especially with no goal attached to training.  And then Daylight Savings Time ended and it was so very dark.  Not to mention rainy.  Lots and lots of rain fell after our summer of sun and dryness.  We seemed to reach the floodwatch stage in our county in a matter of days.

I don’t like to run in the rain. I don’t like to get my feet soggy wet.  I don’t like rain dripping on my face either.  Call me a weenie.  It’s alright.

I did most of my running post-marathon on the treadmill.  It’s okay.  It’s a necessity when I have to squeeze it in before going somewhere else.  But it doesn’t help my right leg and the view doesn’t change much.

I’ve been thinking of staying way scaled back on running for the season.  I want it to get fun again.  I don’t want to push myself so hard because it’s the right thing to do.  I’m not sure when or if I’ll race again.  I don’t have it in me right now, at all.  I want to recapture that joy of running for its own sake.  Meantime, I’m going heavier on the kettlebells.  I imagine my instructor will hold me to it!

I’ve been here before.  I need to regroup and play.  I need to get sweaty for the pure exhilaration.

So, this week Runners World posted a challenge.  They want people to sign up to run at least a one mile every day between now and New Year’s Day.  Hmm…I’m thinking about it.  It sounds – dare I say it? – fun.  It sounds sorta medicinal, too, this way:  Run one mile and call me in the morning.  Could I do it every day?  Would I do it in the rain?  Would I do it on a plane?

Any new challenges in your world?  What will you tackle next?  What’s getting you excited these days?

P.S.  As the year winds down, I haven’t forgotten about my gluten-free week.  It’s coming, promise!

The Dream

Yesterday, I registered for the Portland Marathon.  I realize I hadn’t mentioned what I was training for, but I didn’t want to state anything official until I got into the event. 

This will be my first marathon. I’ve done 4 half marathons, so technically cumulatively  I guess I’ve done 2 marathons!  Seriously, though, I am nervous and I will do everything in my power to train well for it.  I’ve found that the mental toughness is even more important than the physical endurance.  If you believe you cannot go another step, you’re right.  If you believe you’ve enough steam to finish the 26.2, you’re right.  It’s the great paradox of the old Henry Ford quote: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

Gulp.

I started training for it 2 months ago.  I found a plan in Runner’s World magazine.  After I’d been doing it for a couple of weeks, I discovered it was for people who wanted to *improve* their previous marathon times.  Gads!  It was not a plan for newbies.  I kinda fall in a weird category of intermediate-beginner.  I am not starting out from the very beginning – like couch-sitting – but neither am I a veteran marathoner.  So…I kept on.  Some weeks have been harder and I haven’t gotten all the mileage in.  I ran in Hawaii most days and did my first long run of 11 miles there, in the humidity and the presence of chickens. 

I think I’ll keep going and see where it leads.  I’m learning to enjoy the journey of this trip.  My only goal for the marathon is to finish, though qualifying for Boston would be an added bonus.  The real goal is to finish well; that’s my milestone. That’s my true reward. Proverbs 13:12 says: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. This is my dream.

What’s your dream, and are you going after it?

The Power of Yes

Not the band.

 

I ran the Goldsborough Creek race route this morning, all 7 miles of it.  I still haven’t decided if I want to run it next Saturday or not.  I’ve run it 2 other times. Last year I ran it in 1:07:54.  That’s alright, I guess.  I almost threw up at the end.  I ate that banana too close to the start of the race.  The year before that, I ran it in  1:13, I think.  I lost confidence .

Today was tough. I dutifully ate my standard pre-run breakfast 2 hours before I planned to run. I drank my water. Jonathon graciously dropped me off at the start of the race at the top of Shelton Springs Road.  I looked at my watch and began.  It was just me and the lush undergrowth of damp trees.  Birds swooped around.  About 10 cars passed me in total.  It was quiet except for my feet hitting the asphalt.  A couple of slugs and snails crossed my path. 

The day was overcast but trying mightily to be sunny.  My head was not into it. I started to question whether racing, or even running, was worth it anymore.  All the other times I ran this loop before the race, to gauge time and distance and familiarize myself with the course, I’ve done it with someone else.  I’ve never done it alone.  For those who don’t know, it’s pretty rural back roads – a few houses, the 7th Day Adventist Church, and several farms dot this lovely little valley. I did see horses.  I thought, What if something happens to me?  I don’t have my phone.  What if I twist my ankle or get hit by a car?  People like to speed along in their truck and SUVs around these twisty, hummocky roads. 

Thoughts like that made me stop and walk.  I got to the 2-mile mark and hit the hill.  A sharp left onto Deegan Road West, and  back into the forest primeval.  I could not get a rhythm going.  I had no faith, no desire, no oomph to continue.  I walked and prayed.  What now, Jesus?  I know I’m about 2.5 miles from the cutoff that leads back into town.  I don’t want to walk it all, but I have nothing.  No mental strength.  No one to cheer me along this windy, wet road.

As I prayed, a thought popped into my head.  I remembered back to my first half marathon – the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Half in August 2010.  It was cold and misty, the bridge itself the first obstacle to conquer. The first 6 miles or so were fine.  Plenty of stamina and desire.  Then, somewhere around miles 8-10, things got wonky.  I found I had to think only one thing:  Yes.  That’s it.  If I thought of anything else, other than avoiding potholes and uneven pavement, I was sunk.  I had to focus and make my thoughts behave. I mean, I can command a big dog that’s trying to bite me to get lost, but I can’t get rid of these self-defeating thoughts?  Come on!

So that’s what I did for the last 4.5 miles.  Yes.  Yes to finishing well.  Yes to not giving up and proving that it’s doable and God will give me the strength.  I wound up a few more hills and as the road bent to the right again, I saw the stop sign.  Aha! Less than 2 miles to go. I hit the railroad tracks in town and walked for a minute to catch my breath.  Less than a mile to go to the post office.

Once I hit the light at 7th, I started to kick.  I didn’t think about it; my body just went there. My stomach didn’t like it but I pressed on.  I finished the run at 1:06 – 66 minutes.  Huh?  Even with all the times I walked?  What in the world? Somehow, over the course of the last couple years of fighting illness and a long-term injury, I lost that Yes.  I gave up on myself and figured maybe my time was past.  Maybe I was done racing and running and pursuing such physical goals.  I am getting older all the time. I believed the lie that I couldn’t do it and it was selfish and a waste of time to even try.

No.  It isn’t.  And perhaps this is an unorthodox way to  take every thought captive, but maybe we’ve been doing it wrong.  Maybe the idea is to *choose* what to think, not so much actively put away or rebuke the evil thoughts, but choose the “good, perfect, noble” (Phil 4:8) things. The onus is on us to do it.  I guess it’s part of that free will deal.

So…what’s next?

2011: Year in Review

The last day of December, folks!

As the last morning of December, still dark and glittering with a hard frost, has yet to dawn, I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts.  This year, on the surface, kinda sucked.  I must say it didn’t have nearly the accomplishment or “wow” factor of 2010.  But, as I started to write down the good and bad things from 2011, I discovered something.

The downers:

Jonathon’s job ended August 31.  He has yet to find a new one.  It’s been discouraging. 

I was sick for the first month of 2011 with a rotten flu and it took a long time to recover.  At one point the doctor even thought I might have T.B. Took the shine right off the new year for me.

I hurt myself  when the peak racing season was starting up so I only did a couple of races. My last half-marathon I ran in July, I did poorly, with a burst, bloody blister soaking my shoe at the end of the race. I had to cut back, strengthen my injured leg and be patient.  That was painful, and not just my leg.

I quit my job at the end of 2010 and spent most of 2011 trying to figure out what God had in mind for me to do, why I was at home.  It was a frustrating time in a long holding pattern, like the endless circling of planes trying to land at O’Hare.

My weight kept creeping up.  Eek!

But the positives!

I started writing for real.  Despite the fact that the writing class I signed up for at the community college got cancelled, I started blogging in earnest.  This, writing, is what I was meant to do.  At least, it’s one of the main things.  The funny things is that I knew it all along, since around second grade; I didn’t trust myself. Putting yourself out there and saying you’re going to do something is difficult.  You risk ridicule and failure.  But being a writer is not necessarily an occupation or something I’ll ever do for notoriety.  I do it because I *have* to.

Learning to trust the still, small voice.  For years and years and years, I’ve second-guessed myself.  I’m learning to go with my “gut”, for lack of a better term.  I think this is part of aging and knowing myself better.  I think it’s also I’ve learned to trust the Lord more.  If I mess up, I mess up.  He is faithful.  Very few things in life are pass/fail.  There’s almost always another chance.

We hosted Jonathon’s family for Christmas. Financially, it was a bit of a struggle. Jonathon’s parents helped us quite a bit, and we’re very grateful for that.  We did it because we’d committed to do it and we know God will come through.  It’s time to reconnect with the family and support each other, and get to know the new generation coming up.

I wrote and directed our church’s Christmas play, “Xpectant Xmas”.  What a thrill!  Jonathon produced it.  He finished the new special lighting project, which he’d worked on for more than a year.  He coordinated and rehearsed the band and singers, he gathered and created, or built props and staging.  This project pretty much consumed us October – December of this year.  We had a great cast and crew and would love to do it again!  But not for Easter.

I interviewed for and got one part-time job as the grant compliance person (aka document control) for the Mason County Shelter’s two new buildings they’re putting up in 2012.  I have potential for another part-time job as well.

The Great Roofing Project of 2011 is done as well!  No  more rain in our bedroom.

Ruby transitioned to kindergarten and is doing well both in English and Spanish.  She is well-loved by her teachers and fellow students.  She reads more and more words every day and is a budding artist.  Zac is in his 7th grade here and really enjoying it.  He excels at trombone and is now taking drum lessons from my brother as well. 

Last, but not least, I only gained 2 lbs. over Christmas.  Huzzah!

So you see, there are many, many good things that happened this year.  This is by no means a complete list of the good or the bad.  But I can definitely see that the good outweighs the bad, any day of the year.

What about your year?  I’d love to hear from you.

P.S.  And thank you,  for reading my blog!  I only started 2 months ago, and already you’ve generated over 1400 views.  Merci beaucoup! I look forward to writing more and hearing your comments and thoughts  in 2012.