A few weeks ago we officially kicked off "Race Season" with the Keeneland Half Marathon Relay (which you can read about here). Racing used to be a huge part of Josh's and my lives, particularly at the point in our lives when we met. I was much more into running than he was, but he started signing up for races with me so that we could spend some more time together. His passion has always been cycling, so as his running increased, so did his interest in triathlons. And then we had kids... and putting in the time and commitment to train for these things got a little more difficult!
To say that we're excited to be back in the swing of things is an understatement. With all of our focus going into our family and our church plant over these past few years, it's nice to get back to doing things just for us- the things we love most. And there are very few things that I love more than a race day. When we're missing on a weekend (although we're back for church on Sunday of course!) chances are you can find one of us up ridiculously early and out on a course somewhere.
Like two weeks ago... Josh ran the Music City Marathon in Nashville and the babies and I cheered him on.
It was a ridiculously hot and sunny morning, the course was hilly, and he rocked it! I love watching him race almost as much as I love racing myself. Almost.
And then this past weekend I went up to Cincinatti and ran the Flying Pig Half Marathon with my group of Florida girls, which made for an awesome reunion weekend- complete, of course, with tutus!
I had a friend comment the following day that we're all crazy. She said that she would never understand why a person would want to get up crazy early and willingly run long distances, particularly since we're not being chased by something. And although I couldn't explain it at that moment, I do know that there are countless reasons why I love these events.
I started off this particular race with the girls. I love to encourage people. I love to motivate. And I love to have side-by-side conversations. Sometimes I can hash out my biggest problems or frustrations with a running partner. It's like therapy.
Around mile 5 we cruised through downtown Cincinnati. The streets were lined with people and I thrive on that. I love seeing the faces and hearing the cheers from spectators. I love the little kids who get excited that you high-five them. I love reading the signs- the ones that will make you laugh and the ones that will make you cry. And I love being near someone when they see someone they know along the way and it totally changes them from feeling like they can't do it to knowing that they can.
After that span, I felt pretty good and ended up pulling ahead. I put in my headphones and just ran for awhile, my brain completely thoughtless. My body moved mechanically, because it has done this a thousand times before, and I just ran on autopilot. I love being "in the zone." I love that God created us with bodies that can move like this and accomplish anything that we're willing to put in the work for.
Then, I started to break down. We went uphill for a ridiculously long time. In fact, they say it's the equivalent climb of a 41-story building... so yes, maybe that part was a little crazy. And as I took my very first walk-break, my brain started telling me that I couldn't do it. That I was hot. And my feet and back hurt. That my lungs could not keep up with the oxygen support. That I could fake an injury and not finish or lie and say I waited in a really long port-a-potty line, which made my time so slow. And do you want to know why I love the breakdown? Because at some point, I stare it all down in the face, put one foot in front of the other, and start running again. And whether it's thirty minutes or three minutes before I start walking again, I ultimately overcome those thoughts. And at the end of the day, I cross a finish line.
We joke a lot that I do this for the "bling," as I do love the shiny medal at the end, but it's so much more than that. For me, it's uninterrupted time with my thoughts. It's listening to praise music and lifting my hands in the air to the God who created me, even though I know I look like an insane person to anybody watching. It's thinking about my babies, and how proud they would be of me for finishing. I think about how I want to stay young and healthy enough for them to be around for a long, long time. I reflect on my marriage, on how much I love my husband, and the ups and downs of things. This past weekend came with some trials for us, but after mulling over a lot of it on the race course, I knew that there would be goodness that came from the struggle we encountered. I knew that running out my frustrations would put me in a calm place to talk about our feelings and better understand one another in the long run (which has already happened actually). I think about my Aunt Barbara, whom we lost a few years ago to cancer, and how she would have loved to have been running this race with us. I think about ways that I can do more in this world, serve others better, reach out farther, and make a difference and an impact. The open road has always been kind to me. My best ideas find me there, my solutions to life's problems meet me there, and my most fervent prayers are said and heard there. It's a special place and one that I miss when I'm away from it, an old friend that never lets me down. So it's okay with me if you think I'm crazy because the truth is, I know that I would actually go crazy without it. In fact, I may or may not have already been online looking for the next race... because I know that it will be amazing no matter what the clock says at the finish line.
We have quite a bit on the summer calendar already... feel free to join us if you'd like:
- [Josh] Olympic Triathlon (Taylorsville, KY)
- Warrior Dash (Elizabethtown, KY)
- [Josh] Half Ironman (Muncie, IN)
- Midsummer's Night Run 5K (Lexington, KY)
- [Jake] Fastest Kid in Town (Lexington, KY) - this should go better than last year!
- [Josh] Ironman (Louisville, KY) - can't wait for this!
I am sure some 5K's and 10K's will be added throughout the summer, but I'm so excited to see these events on my calendar again. Let me know if you'll be at any of these or if there is something out there that we shouldn't miss!
I know I didn't do a Biggest Loser post this week, but as you can see, I did work out and am still moving in the right direction! And don't forget that the first Mama's Month post will be up tomorrow! I hope you post, too!