So it's official... race season has officially begun and I have no excuses this time around. I am not pregnant, and although I'm nursing, I'm far enough through the process that if my milk supply depletes due to training I'm okay with it. My husband has signed up for a few big races and now my girlfriends from Florida (who I miss dearly!) are all planning a girls' race weekend in May. Pressing the "sign me up" button is proving more difficult than I would have anticipated.
You see, I have this problem. The last race that I ran was Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge a few months before Josh and I got married. For those of you who don't understand how crazy I am in the head, that's a half marathon (13.1 miles) on a Saturday and then a full marathon (26.2 miles) the very next day. I was smart about it and decided to walk most of the half in order to be able to run the full, since that would use some different muscles, and even though I did fall apart from about mile 16-20 in the full, I finished both in a decent time. The point is, I knew I could do it. I wanted to do it, to prove to myself that I could. And if you've ever been with me during a race, you will see a
stubborn determined attitude that I don't really display at any other time in my life.
So what's the problem? I realized the other day that my body is not quite connecting to my mind. In my mind I am still that girl. In my mind, I could set my alarm this coming Saturday and go out to run 9 or 10 miles, and even enjoy it! It's something that I was good at the last time I tried, and I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that my body and my brain are disconnected. Since that time in my life I have spent the majority of my time pregnant. As much as it pains me to admit, I'm about ten pounds heavier than I was on that race day. And quite frankly, there is not even a small part of me that has the motivation to get out there again. Because I know in my heart of hearts that it will hurt. And it will not be fun. And I won't be great at it right away. Like I said, failure is not an option, and I have found myself in a place where I am afraid to try because I might fail.
I look back on these past 6 months and realize that this is the only area of my life that I have allowed this attitude to creep in. It's almost comical that I will fret about something as minor as fitness, yet when Josh wanted to move our family three states over to start a church I didn't hesitate. In fact, I proposed that we do it sooner because I felt it was the right time. I was pregnant with our second child knowing full well that there would be three months of very little pay mixed in there. And this was on top of about six months (minimum) of no pay for Josh! We had a house to sell in a market that wasn't moving and yet, the idea of it did not scare me one bit. For the first time in a long time I was nothing but excited.
It's my goal to find that excitement about racing again. I know that it will be hard, as there have been times in these past months that have been challenging. I know it won't be fun, just as being home alone with two babies while Josh works 70 hours isn't always fun. But I know in the end that there will be joy and pride, just as there will be an abundance of that when we launch on February 12th. For all things that are worth it in life, work is involved.
So this morning I got up earlier than I normally would, laced up the (new!) running shoes, and hit the pavement. I started out at what I thought would be a slow pace for me. At about a mile in, I told myself that I only had to make it two. And then I walked the second mile. I tried to remind myself that I'm carrying extra weight, have not really worked out hard for over two years, and am not used to running in the cold, but again, my brain and my body were not connecting. Plus, I was sweating profusely since I have no concept of what to wear in 44 degree weather... I was dressed as if I was heading out to the arctic tundra, which makes sense considering my last real run was in northern Illinois in the winter... so basically the arctic tundra. Everything hurt- my lungs, my throat, my ears, and I kid you not, even my ponytail. But as I rounded the corner into our driveway I was satisfied that I had done it. I put the effort out there, and that's half the battle.
Even through the frustration of it all, I felt at peace. Kids weren't pawing at me, chores couldn't be done, and my Blackberry was still turned off since my workday had not yet started. Nobody needed me and I could just think wonderful, lovely thoughts of my own. I listened to worship music and praised God that I had the ability to do this and (eventually) do it well. And I asked him for a little bit of motivation. And that's when I realized that even when my mind and my body are disconnected, the spirit of that runner is still within me. That spirit is what pulls me through.
I can honestly say that these same struggles apply to my Christian life. My brain tells me that I should go to to church, read my Bible, pray more, and volunteer. But on some Sunday mornings after a long weekend, my body decides to rebel. Or sometimes before bed, I fall asleep while praying because my body is exhausted. Just like everything else, calling yourself a Christian takes work. I don't think people like to hear that, but it's true. For a long time I felt like I was a "bad" Christian because I didn't spring out of bed on a Sunday morning to make sure I had the front row seat. I would read a chapter of my Bible before giving up because I did not understand what it was saying. And probably my worst offense is my inability to sit still long enough to pray to to the God who created me. It sounds silly, but even keeping my eyes closed for three minutes during a prayer seems like work... and that's because it is. But I've come to realize that it's okay, as long as you're doing the work. And God, knowing that we humans have this disconnect, was wise enough (I mean, He is God... of course He thought of everything!) to send down his Holy Spirit- that spirit that lives inside us. And that spirit is always willing... we just need to get our minds and our bodies to stop battling each other and actually listen to it!
Following Jesus is a lot like running (stay with me here). Or working out for that matter. In order to make it a habit, you have to stick with it. You have to train, which takes time and dedication. Eventually your body will function better and you'll be healthier over all because you're taking care of it. The spirit is no different. You have to dust off that Bible and read it, which takes time and dedication. Eventually your spirit will function better and be healthier over all because you're taking care of it. Maybe to be a better runner you have to rid yourself of things that get in the way- junk food, long spells in front of the TV, etc. Well to get your spirit "in shape" you may have to rid yourself of bad influences, addiction, "friends" that pull you down with them. It won't be easy. In fact, at times, it will be downright no fun at all and you'll wonder if it's worth it. But at the end of this run, when we turn the corner and pull into the driveway, there will be a deep satisfaction because you put the effort out there... and that's half the battle. And maybe, just maybe, if we keep up the effort and let the Spirit guide us, this journey will end with this:
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:21)
So be encouraged and be blessed in this new year. Pick a goal and stick with it. But most importantly, feed the Spirit, and you will be abundantly blessed in return.
And in 15 weeks when I run that first half-marathon in a very long time, remind me to read my own words, okay? Because a lot of the time, I'm writing them for me, because I need to hear them.