I am often amazed at how much my running life has changed over the years.
Beginning in 7th grade and continuing through my 27th birthday, I ran. A lot. I was a distance runner from the beginning - never a sprinter. In high school I ran the 880 and the mile, and did high jump. It was never about fitness or health, but always to escape dealing with my problems. It was a very dysfunctional and self-destructive coping mechanism.
The summer after I turned 27, I moved back to Kansas City and started dating a nice guy that I wanted to trust. I was tired of running...figuratively and literally. So, I just shot straight with him about the pain in my life and promptly stopped running.
For the next several years I joked about being fatter and happier than I'd been in my entire life...but the "fat" part was getting serious. At my heaviest, I'd gained 30 pounds and weighed as much as I did when I gave birth to each of my kids. I felt horrible and my body ached. Doctors kept saying I needed to exercise, but I was terrified that I'd start running (literally) and would fall back into bad patterns of running from problems. From my marriage. From my family. From my insecurities.
Thankfully, that did not happen. I confided my fears to my husband and friends, and prayerfully embarked on a new running journey...one towards wellness and wholeness beyond my wildest imagination.
I didn't trust myself to run alone, so I found partners to train with. Girls who knew my past and my issues and helped me to remain focused on the right stuff. I signed up for my first 5K and ran it with a group of friends. That was in April 2010. Having not trained entirely right, I limped back to my car and didn't run again until January 2011...when it was time to train for that year's 5K. I trained better that year, but it was a long and slow race. A month later, I signed up for my first sprint distance triathlon. My husband believed I was certifiable. He was convinced I was going to die. I had a great time at the 2011 tri, but was still really terrible at running. I was slow and walked a lot. Honestly, I hated the run portion. Hated it with a passion. The time with friends and the swim was what kept me motivated. After the tri, I sat on my couch until it was time to start preparing for the April 2012 5K. I took a new approach to training this time. I used Couch to 5K and found that running really wasn't all that miserable. On April 7, 2012, the 5K was unbelievably easy. I wasn't even fatigued after the race...which could only mean one thing.
I was ready to run farther.
The next day, I laced up my shoes and announced that I was headed out for 4 miles. Again, Bryan thought I was insane. Having run 3.1 the day before, he expected that I needed a week (or month) of rest before running again. He was wrong. I finished my 4 miles with an impromptu dance party in the driveway...listening to (and singing along with) Party in the USA on my iPod. If I had tweenage girls, they'd have wanted to die watching the scene unfold.
That was the first time I'd ever in my life run more than 3.1 miles. That was only 11 months ago! Shortly after...I signed up for the 2012 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon. Again, insert husband certain of my impending death and institutionalization.
But, I did it...
I ran that April 2012 5K with the words "Determination" and "God can" on my hands. As in - God can sustain me. Everything is possible with Him. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
I really was a quitter when it came to running. I needed some seriously motivating reminders.
On my own, I certainly could not have done this. Running is a choice to put one foot in front of the other. It's a choice to take one step at a time, building on previous experience and efforts, believing that all things are possible. It requires dismissing the voices shouting that it's impossible (usually all in my own head!) and reminding yourself to keep forging ahead towards the finish line.
My running journey reminds me a lot of life...
In case you have missed it - I am nothing extraordinary. I am not a natural athlete. I did not even like running. I'm just a wife. A mom. A teacher. A friend, sister, daughter, niece, aunt, cousin. If I can run...and LOVE it...anyone can run.
To my kids... There are countless things in life that don't come easy or naturally that are totally worth doing. Praying, going to church, serving, loving, forgiving, sacrificing, extending grace and mercy...even growing into men who watch chick flicks with their wives on occasion. I pray that you will discover within yourselves the desire and determination to do the hard, uncomfortable, undesirable things. To take the roads less traveled. To submit. To trust. To become all that God intends for you. In seeking His will and prayerfully following His lead, you will find a life far beyond anything you could possibly dream up.