One was that I was working on promoting/facilitating an Atheism/Christianity forum in my community, to be held on October 2nd.
The next was that I was training to run a half-marathon on October 9th.
The third was that I was attending a blogging conference, on October 21st-23rd.
Now for those of you who actually know what day it is, you may have realized that I'm writing this from the blogging conference. While I'm tempted to blog about the conference itself, I would be remiss if I failed to talk about my half-marathon.
Particularly because, I almost didn't do it. But let's start at the beginning.
I have not always been a runner, and I'm not an athlete. I'm the girl who, in middle school, pretended to have her period far more frequently than is physically possible to get out of gym class. When they forced us to run a mile for the Presidential Physical Fitness Test, I walked. I pretended it was because I was too cool to care, but really it was because I didn't want everyone to see how badly I sucked wind. So when I, as an adult, started working out and running, suffice it to say it was out of sheer necessity and a complete unwillingness to go up to the next pant size (yet again). Now I've done it long enough that it's habit, but let's be clear... this whole fitness thing has been a long road. And this road has never extended longer than a 5k.
So when a couple months back my friend Melanie put a bug in my ear about running a half marathon with her in Oct, I almost poo-pooed it. On a whim, though, I asked my hubby (who is a runner and was already planning on doing it) just what would be involved in training. He quickly came back with a training plan that actually seemed doable to me, and I decide to give it a shot, with the understanding (with myself and others) that I would just do the training and see how far I got with it, but that wasn't committing to anything. Every week as I went out for my "long run" (which started at 4 miles and went up from there) I prayed that God would help me through it if it was his will for me to continue.
And every week he did, up until the post that I did back in Sept. If you remember, I said my next hurdle was 9 miles and that would be the deal-breaker. If I could do 9, I would sign up for the half-marathon.
Well, the day I tried to do 9, and it was a horrible experience. H.O.R.R.I.B.L.E. I could barely breathe, I had pain in both of my feet and my back - and I didn't even run the whole 9! After the run I felt like I had been hit by a bus for three days, which was highly inconvenient since I was in the last couple weeks of finalizing plans for the Oct 2nd forum. I was super-busy and laying on the couch in a vegetative state was not an option. I decided then and there that I was going to nix the training. Going forward with it was going to cost more than I wanted to pay, and my practicality overtook my competitive drive.
|Melanie and I before the race|
Well, like I said, I was busy so I never got to writing that post. But I did tell Mel I was backing out, and I told my husband and my running friends too. Then I put it out of my mind and had total peace. I registered him for the race, and didn't register myself. I went on with my life, put all of my extra energies into the Forum, and never looked back.
|One of the photos from the official race photographer. I like this one because I look like I'm flying. Kind of.|
A couple days later, the idea resurfaced in my mind. Could I do the race? I was feeling better physically and was less-stressed with other obligations. I was tempted. Why not try it? I talked to Mel, and she was in. I would use Robert's bib number, Robert would watch my kids during the race (along with his own.. the man deserves some sort of merit badge!), and I would surprise my hubby and not tell him until the night before the race. This idea was exciting to me. I love surprises. And would I make it through the race? Well, that was a surprise too. But like before, I figured if the Lord wanted me to be able to do it, I would succeed (after all, I had truly put it out of my mind, but now all the sudden there was an opportunity for me - which tends to be how God works sometimes!). And if I failed, well, at least I can say I had tried.
|Mel and I. No laughing at my pink shorts! I know they are dorky, but so comfortable. And, they made it really easy to identify me in all group photographs!|
I ran with Mel the whole time, which was great. We don't see each other very often, so we got to talk and catch up through about the first six miles. After that, I couldn't handle much more talking, other than the occasional complaint or sarcastic comment. But having her next to me motivated me, and I'm not sure that I would have done as well if she wasn't with me. At the very least, I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much! And while enjoyed might be a bit too strong of a word, at the end of the race I was happy. My run was major-pain-free, I felt strong, and I finished in 2 hours and 12 minutes (that's a 10:06 mile) - not groundbreaking, but not too shabby considering my lack of training.
|Crossing the finish line! Though, I must point out that the clock was off because there were almost 5,000 racers that day and not everybody can cross the starting line when the gun goes off!|
So glad it's done! Ow... quads hurt!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Running a long race is really hard, but there's joy in the journey because of the pride and accomplishment that you get when you cross the finish line. You have achieved your goal! All of your hard work has paid off. You forget about your shin splints and your blisters, because the prize at the end has made it worth the pain.
|Me and Mel and two of her friends after the race. We were smiling partially because the race was over, and partially because the full physical effects of our self-torture had not yet taken effect!|
If it's even possible.
In life, like in a race, it would be impossible to keep going if there wasn't a finish line. But if we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can see that it's possible to finish the race, because he did it first.
And in the end, the journey will be worth it.