Oh Readers, I am just plain sad that I haven’t written in as long as I haven’t written. I’ve missed it as much as I hope you’ve missed it. And I wish I had a better excuse other than the dreaded, “I’ve been so busy!” excuse, but frankly… that’s the dang truth. That, and well, when you aren’t consistent with something, somehow you stop being consistent with that thing. Imagine that! When you stop doing the things you need to do, the things don’t manage to get did!
Two specific things have been stealing my time away. One, I’m happy to report, actually still involves me writing! I’ve been hard at work the last two months on a book proposal. I’m very excited about it, and I can’t wait for it to be done and submitted so that I can tell you the amazing testimony of how God has been so faithful to the calling He has placed on my heart, but for now you’ll just have to settle for the tiny teaser that there is a book and it will be written and it will be great- God willing.
The other thing that kind of took over there for a while was training for the half marathon I ran on December 1st! If you haven’t been following my journey, you might not know that I started out this year as a healthy adult who could not, for the life of me, run a mile, nor did I have the slightest desire to do such a thing. Well, after some self reflection and the realization that I don’t like defaulting to limits, I decided to prove myself wrong. I set out to run a half marathon. Not a 5k, because I knew I could swing that if I just showed up and tried hard enough. Nope, I had to do something a touch harder- something outside that oh so comfy comfort zone. And because I’m me I figured if it’s worth doing at all, I might as well do it all the way, and so I registered as a St. Jude’s gold hero, which just meant that I was required to raise $3000 to participate. If I didn’t raise it, I had to pay it- stakes were high folks.
(Note: We raised over $3500 and counting! You can still donate until Jan. 4th at heroes.stjude.org/runwendyrun)
Sometime around March of this year I set out to run one mile. I did it. I literally ran one mile and stopped because I thought I was going to die. By April I could pretty comfortably run a 5K, which is just over three miles. By May I had done two things: Run five miles all at once without stopping, and injured myself. I took most of June off to let myself heal, maybe running once or twice to just try to keep my stamina up, and by July 4th, I decided to run my first 5K despite the injury. I finished second in my age group, which was hilarious because I didn’t know we were racing! I was just trying to get it over with so I could get home to prep for the BBQ I was hosting!
After the 5K I decided that I really needed to rest my leg for a good 6-8 weeks if I was going to be able to really give my all to this half marathon. Heaven forbid I set out to prove something stupid to myself and I end up injured for life. I definitely didn’t want that. So I took the advice of my running friends and I sat out- no running for 6-8 weeks.
I picked up my running again in September, armed with new, speciality shoes and my iron clad work ethic and I decided to jump right back in with a three to four runs a week schedule. Before the break in training, I had run six miles one time. I had run five miles maybe three times. That’s it.
By the end of September, I was as comfortable with five to six miles as I had previously been with three miles- which is saying a lot! I never thought I’d be ‘comfortable’ with any distance of running.
November rolled around and found me fairly well trained. I had run eight miles a handful of times and I had run ten miles once. It nearly killed me. I was so sore. And I thought I would die. But I finished it and felt like maybe, JUST MAYBE, I could have done three more miles if a zombie was chasing me.
In the middle of November, I took a trip out to Tahoe/Nevada for business and found myself with an open morning. I knew I needed to get at least one medium run in while I was out there on my trip because the race was only a few weeks away at that point. I set out one very cold morning in Genoa, Nevada to run six miles. I saw that there was a paved trial that ran three miles in one direction and then three miles back. Bing, bang, boom… I’d be done. Looked simple. Well, it ended up being only two miles down by the time I hit the turn around point and so I figured that when I got back to the car I could just run one more mile past it and turn around… well long story short, I ran twelve miles that morning. I don’t know what came over me, but it remains the first and only time I got a little taste of this thing they call the ‘runners high.’ If all runs were like that run, I’d be a lifelong runner.
It was on that run that I got to thinking- my phone died and so without music I couldn’t do much else but think- there really aren’t many physical pursuits. I set out to prove that I was physically capable- me, a relatively non-athletic person- to run thirteen miles. But it was on mile ten of that run, when I knew that I was crossing the threshold of the farthest I had ever run up until that point, that I realized that there are no physical pursuits… there are only mental pursuits that include the body.
Almost everything we’ll ever achieve in our lifetime will be won and lost in our minds. Nothing else- no physical ability, no skill set, no experience, no set of circumstances, no education- will ever be as important in our pursuit as our mindset.
That was a critical thing to realize just a few weeks out from race day.
December 1st found me in Memphis, calm and ready. I felt 100% confident that I could run thirteen miles. If I’m being honest, I didn’t feel that 100% confidence until that week before. I ran ten miles the Saturday before the race and I knew I was ready. I was sore, I was tired, but I knew I was in prime mental shape.
I believed I could do it. And that was the piece I had been working towards- it was never my body I was trying to train, it was always my mind.
The weather was perfect! It had rained overnight, but a weather delay of the race, mixed with a post storm heat wave and I found myself running in a tank top with sunglasses while the cool breeze kept me at that perfect temp for running.
The first five miles went quick. I had downloaded an amazing playlist on Spotify the night before that I was super excited about. Well, I realized at the starting line that I had forgotten to download it so I didn’t really feel much like music without that playlist. I ended up listening to a podcast about a criminal court case. It was riveting, and felt appropriate to me.
The middle of the race was probably my favorite- miles six through ten. I felt good, I wasn’t in pain yet and I knew I didn’t have to run the next day… or the day after that… or the day after that.
The last two miles were pretty gnarly. I didn’t know I had passed the twelve mile marker and so I was pretty much crying inside thinking I STILL wasn’t on my last mile when I saw the finish line in the distance. Suddenly, despite the pain in my legs- that was fierce, I assure you- I could quite literally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I became very aware of my form, as there were so many people cheering and watching, and I started scanning the crowd for my kids and my adoring husband. I wanted to be sure he got a good picture of me of course.
Well, by default he caught me running by on video just because he recorded a good ten minutes of runners going by for fear he’d miss me- but yes, he missed me. And I him. I didn’t see them when I crossed the finish line, and they didn’t see me.
But I wasn’t there for them. Yes… I wanted to be sure I didn’t miss the opportunity to teach my kiddos that sometimes things are hard but we don’t quit. That’s when we lean in. That’s when we trust the process. That’s when we start to CHOOSE to believe that we’re capable even if we can’t see how, and even if we feel unbearable pain in our calf muscles.
Maybe they learned that lesson? Maybe the lesson was for me…
I finished the race feeling incredibly glad… it was over.
Here’s the deal, I’ve been asked several times since crossing that finish line, “How did it feel to finish?” My answer is so unsatisfying and I can hear it in the surprised voice of all who have asked me. “Didn’t you feel proud?” They’ll undoubtedly prod… I felt proud, sure. But the thing I remember feeling most was just a sense of having checked the box I set out to check.
But isn’t that enough?
I’m reminded of a story of a man walking along the beach in a t-shirt that simply read: “Because I said I would.” My girlfriends stopped him on the beach and had to ask about the shirt. Was there a story? Where did such a fantastic shirt come from? There WAS a story, and it involved his father who had passed away but was remembered as being a man of his word. This gentleman in the shirt had started a non-profit in honor of his dad, the man who did things simply because he said he would.
What a freaking novel idea.
In a world where we quit when it gets hard, where we settle and then settle again and then justify our settling, where it’s so unusual for a person to actually just stick to his word for the mere fact that he had committed to doing something that a non-profit is created in his honor… we’ve got to take a step back and remember that sometimes it’s okay- however anti-climatic as it might be- that we just finish what we start because we said we would. Can’t that just be enough?
I think it can be enough.
So no, outside that one twelve miler, I can’t say I’ve experienced the runner’s high. I can now confidently say I don’t really like running- not to say I won’t continue running for exercise on occasion- but I can’t imagine having the desire to run another half marathon. I felt glad to have finished, not because of the accomplishment of it, but more as an exercise in seeing things through to the end, even when I realize half way through that it’s hard and I kind of don’t love it. That was never the point anyway, right?
Well, it’s good to be back and I look forward to keeping you MUCH more abreast of all things needing perspective shifts in the New Year!