Feeling Strangely Fine

Two weeks ago I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon.  My first ever marathon.  Here is a pic of me pre-race:

pre-marathon

I may look like my normal silly self but truth be told I was really, really nervous.  I mean mega-nervous.  Perhaps more nervous than I have ever been before any physical challenge I’ve ever done.  This was my first marathon – the longest race I’d ever run before this was 13.1 miles, which was 2 years and 1 baby ago.  I did 100% of the training and preparation for this by myself.   I didn’t have a regular time of day or schedule for running, because when you’ve got 3 kids pre-K and under you don’t really have the luxury of having a schedule for your hobbies, let alone even have hobbies.  So I stuck with a plan as best I could, worked it around my girls’ dance, soccer, swim lessons and illnesses and showed up on race morning feeling completely overwhelmed and underprepared.  “If I’d only had more free time I’d have done way more cross-training,” I remember thinking.  “I just need to pick a reasonable pace per mile and stick with it.  I just need to cross the finish line.”  My goal was just to finish the race with some level of dignity.  So with the help of my trusty Garmin watch I picked a pace that seemed modest, tamped down my adrenalin and forced myself to stick with the planned pace even though I so badly wanted to tear off at a faster clip.

My distance runs during training started off strong.  But as I got further into training I found myself getting burned out, so I had to back off running a bit and try to find a better balance.  But in backing off I also ended up unexpectedly having to pack and move our family of 5.  Subsequent distance training runs suffered and rocked my confidence.  I would call my (non-runner) husband (who loves me but thinks distance runners are nuts) mid-run when I was struggling and he would encourage me to press on.  I would often come home, feeling dejected, shaking from running 18+ miles and wondering how in the heck I was ever going to run 8 miles further.  It was beyond demoralizing.

Race morning was a humbling experience.  Feeling like I had bit off WAY more than I could chew made me want to throw up.  I have always been an athlete, a competitor, and feeling like I can’t do something isn’t how I operate.  “What if I don’t make it to the finish line,”  I wondered, “What if I get injured and can’t finish?”  “What if all the time I spent preparing and training just wasn’t enough to press out those last few miles?”

I did what I always do – I took it to God and prayed for my safety during the race.  I prayed for both physical and mental strength and tenacity.  I prayed that I would just finish the race.  I thanked the Lord for giving me the opportunity to run.

And a funny thing happened – as I ran I started to think about my finish line in life when I go to the Lord.  Will my training and preparation be enough for me to cross into Heaven?  Much like the marathon with some easy, some difficult miles, we have easy days and hard days when it comes to our faith and our ability to avoid sin along our life’s course.  But at the end of it all we can blame our “life marathon” result on no one but ourselves. Only I am ultimately responsible or accountable for the choices I made during my time on Earth.

I know how scary it was feeling I was unprepared on race morning — I can’t even begin to imagine how petrified I will be going before the Lord knowing in my heart that I am not worthy.  All I can do is focus on the training.  To keep studying His word.  To continue fellowship with fellow Christian sisters.  To continually pray.

Crossing the finish line (I’m on the right)

I will never know while I’m here on Earth if my preparation truly is enough to cross the finish line into Heaven.  What I do know is that I will never stop preparing for that final mile, minute, breath.  Fortunately for me 2 weeks ago, my preparation was more than enough for the Pittsburgh Marathon and I finished easily in 4 hours 33 minutes.

super proud 🙂

“Keep running the race that is set before you with endurance.” -Hebrews 12:1

Run by faith,

Lindsay

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Wrong Way

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what it means to try to be more like Jesus.  I mean, He was perfect … trying to stack my deck against His seems so ridiculous.  I’ve only been a Christian 5 years.  Wow was my life upside down prior to then!  And I have a confession to make — in the past 5 years since being baptized I was still sinning.  Sometimes *big* sins.  I still am a sinner.  I will always be a continual work in progress.

I’ve mentioned in at least one past post that my life has been kind of bananas lately.  And as a result I’m exponentially more stressed than usual.  Which means I’m more prone to occasional behavior that’s really not typical.  I’ve had times when I’ve been short with my husband, parents and my kids.  I’m having a harder time keeping commitments we’ve made to things that aren’t critical.  My sleep is suffering.  Running is suffering.  And the Lindsay I am is a shadow of herself… I’m quieter, less smiley and quicker to frustration.

Is it embarrassing to post to the world that I’ve not been myself?  No.  I’m completely okay with being a regular human being, and I don’t think being open and unapologetic about my faith means I have to be perfect and live a sinless life.  Too often I believe (and see) self-described Christians acting as though they must portray perfection, but meanwhile they’re stuck in grudges, being controlling, quick to anger, judging others, disrespecting their parents, committing adultery or idol worshiping – and sadly they seem to have forgotten they are the Christian in the situation.  As the Christian, I feel it is my responsibility to care more about how others feel than how I feel.  If I am truly living my life striving each day to be more like Jesus then I must be willing to put my hurts aside and try to find the good in others or in a bad situation.  And it is my responsibility to do whatever I have to do in order to get things back on track.  I know it sounds corny, but think about a situation perhaps you’ve been struggling with and ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?”  I have found more and more that asking myself that question when I’m in the midst of a difficult situation or dealing with a difficult person has helped me feel better about the way I react.  I want my karma to be more like Jesus.  He loved us even though we didn’t/don’t deserve it.

The good news is that I am cognizant of my indiscretions.  I know I’ve been off path and I am working to get things sorted out.  Identifying a shortcoming, accepting your fault(s), making amends and figuring out how or where to go to step into the right direction I think is the first step to healing and getting away from your sin.  It’s not always easy to get things corrected, but being strong and humble and again realizing I am *supposed to be* the Christian in the situation really helps.  People know I’ve been baptized.  If I’m a fair weather Christian then what does that say about Christianity to non-Christians in my life?

Never will I be perfect.  Never will I claim to be.  Never will every choice I make every day be free of error.  No one in any church is without sin or problems.

But never will I deny my love for Christ.  Never will I run from my sins or give up my Christian walk because I’m embarrassed over a sin I’ve committed or think I’ve messed up too badly to fix things.  To my Christian friends who are currently in the middle of a difficult situation I’d like to offer you this – work hard to make things right and focus your actions and heart on Jesus.  Stay humble and be willing to be the bigger person.  Show non-Christians in  your life what love and forgiveness really feels like.  I believe that kind of discipleship is what will open them up to the idea of getting to know Him.  We are His representatives.

Run by faith,

Lindsay

Going the Distance

I’m uber competitive about a lot of things.  Running actually isn’t one of them.  Since becoming a mom, running has become my “me” time.  I’ve been a runner over ten years now but running and being fit took on a whole new meaning after having our first child.  I soon realized that as long as I was out running I didn’t have to change anyone’s diapers, clean up throw up, or remind anyone for the ten thousandth time that brushing their teeth isn’t an optional daily task.   And, after just moving to a new neighborhood going to the gym gave me an opportunity to meet some other mommy’s and make some friends.  Double inspiration for getting fit!

I wouldn’t say I don’t care about my finishing time when I run races, I would just say I don’t care about your time.  Sorry.  I wasn’t born to run.  I’m not thin and wiry.  It takes me a zillion years to build endurance – I’m built for strength and breeding, not running.  When I sign up for a race I consider the course and my level of fitness and I make a mental goal for myself.  If I meet or surpass my personal goal, I’m happy.  If I don’t, that’s OK.  And if I have a PR or get a medal that’s just a bonus.  Honestly I don’t even know what my 5 or 10-K time would have to be in order for me to get a PR, that’s how much I don’t care about it.  I don’t walk around like I’m some great runner, mostly because I’m not.  I’m just a regular thirty-year old mom of three who enjoys the freedom, sanity and fitness running provides.  My goal is never to beat anyone specifically.  That takes the fun out of it for me.  My goal is first just to finish, and second to finish with a self-measured level of dignity.

Trust me friends I realize that signing up for races is hardly a private matter.  Anyone can look up any race and see the results.  One bad day means anyone with internet access can look you up and judge you, which stinks because so much outside of the actual race itself can go in to whether a race is a successful one – diet, sleep, or emotional state, how long it’s been since you last had a baby, how many weeks pregnant you currently are (OK those last two definitely apply to me! LOL)… just to name a few.  I’ve run so many races these past five years pregnant or with interrupted sleep it’s not even funny.  I feel for runners who put their everything into training and then have an outside source disrupt their preparation and it’s out of their control.  I’ve been there.  It’s my life.  And, once again, outside factors I have no control over are impacting my marathon training.  But I am pressing on.

It’s OK (and I think normal) to compare our results, but one thing I can promise is that when I’m toeing the starting line I’m not there thinking “I really want to beat her (or him)…” I’m thinking, “I really want to beat me.”  And (surprise) at the starting line I’m praying.  I’m praying that it’s in God’s plan for me to finish the race and for it to be with a time I can feel good about considering whatever amount of effort I’ve spent preparing and whatever obstacles have been placed in my way leading up to race day.  Because I know that simply showing up at the starting line doesn’t mean I’m going to make it to the finish line.  And I know that each step, each breath, each mile is on borrowed time and I owe nothing but praise to God for giving me the ability and opportunity to have that moment.  And that is something worth bragging about.

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  -James 4:14

Run by faith,

Lindsay

Here Without You

Part of marathon training is getting my weekly distance run up to 20 miles.  Some distance days when I knew I had to run 15 or more miles (according to my running plan) I’d just go out and run till I either ran out of time or ran out of gas.  Then I’d come home, map it, and see how far I went.  I was really enjoying that process and thought of it as an “organic” approach to running, as the sport is lending itself to more and more gadgetry (GPS shoe chips, ipods, etc) — until I noticed that I kept finishing at 18.5 miles.  Realizing that I was falling just short of my 20 mile goal, which is kind of the pre-marathon max distance one conquers to prepare for 26.2, was starting to play mental games with me.  In an effort to stay as low-tech and high-fun as possible I found myself 1.5 miles too short 3 times in a row… and I began to doubt myself.   I firmly believe distance running is 90% mental and if I didn’t hit the 20-mile mark I was beginning to fear I wouldn’t be mentally prepared to go the distance in May.

So last week I broke down and bought a Garmin GPS watch.

And let me tell you… it ROCKS!!!  I took it for 2 runs last week, a 9-mile loop and a 20-mile out & back, and it’s really hard to not be obsessed with your pace!  I found it actually pushed me to run the 9-miler really strong and was almost like the running coach or partner I’ve never had and I loved it.  I thought it was a bit of a distraction for the longer run but it helped me get the job done, which was really all that mattered.

As I often find in life I think my distance running escapade made for a good metaphor when it comes to our relationship with Christ.  We go to church (our *distance* (or commitment) run of the week) and we hope that’s enough to help us stay in the race and cross the finish line – with the result a “gold medal” into Heaven.  But just going to church isn’t enough.  Look at my situation:  I was doing my weekly distance run.   Keeping things basic and uncomplicated.  And my running fell flat and I began to doubt myself.  I hadn’t done the homework to pre-plan my runs to make sure I was hitting 20 miles.  And I should have.  Also I’ve had a TON going on in my personal life and it’s cut into my cross-training time, which has hurt my running quite a bit.  Just going to church isn’t going to keep you on track and with God Monday through Saturday.  You’ve got to do your prep-work and spiritual cross-training.  Start with studying the Bible.  It’ll help you make better decisions when faced with things of this world.  And it’ll remind you that wordly things, such as lust, money & greed, aren’t important and help you appreciate your life exactly as it is and the many gifts God has already given you.

1 Tim 4:7-10 says, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”

Put God in your daily GPS. His is a race we should all strive to win.

Run by faith,
Lindsay

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