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

How Bizarre

Getting caught with your pants down is a funny saying.  It’s hilarious to imagine.  In real life, however, it’s embarrassing and a public humiliation.

There’s nothing worse than toeing the start line of a race and feeling completely unprepared.  As I’ve been going through the rigors of training for my first marathon, I’ve spent A LOT of time worrying about whether or not my training and preparation has been adequate.  With the race literally less than 4 days away there’s really nothing more I can do to increase my strength or endurance.  I am praying that the miles I’ve put in have been enough.  I am praying that I don’t eat something over the next few days I regret once I’m 15+ miles in and that I remember to drink a ton of water between now and Sunday morning (I’m bringing back the 40-oz challenge!).  (I think) My success depends on a combination of training up till now and my diet and sleep between now and Sunday.  I really don’t want to go into Sunday and get caught with my pants down.

Me crossing the finish line for the 2010 Half Marathon in 2 hrs 4 mins

When I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May 2010 the day started off really humid and muggy.  I was SO THANKFUL when about 3-4 miles in it started raining, breaking the humidity and providing what I considered to be a ton of physical relief.  What I failed to think about was how I was going to finish the half marathon and not get caught with my pants down.

At some point a few months prior to race day I was wearing my favorite cotton Nike running shorts when my 3-year old pulled the draw string out.  I continued wearing them and they seemed to stay up no problem so I figured I didn’t need it and never went to the trouble to re-string it into my shorts.  What I failed to consider on race morning was that I hadn’t done much training in the rain in those shorts, if any.  And race day was rainy.  About 7 miles in I noticed my shorts were starting to sag.  Since they were cotton they were starting to get water-logged and heavy.  About 10 miles in and things were turning from mildly annoying to really irritating.  And at mile 12 I was seriously considering taking them off and finishing in my undies.  I’m not joking.  If you look in the picture above you can tell which one is me – I’m the one holding up my shorts while running towards the finish line.

A lot of runners and running friends have been chatting about how to prepare for the race – what to wear, what to eat, where to park.  All I can say is this:  don’t do anything you haven’t done before.  Eat foods you typically eat before a run – but don’t be dumb about it!  I would not recommend something really heavy or greasy even if it is what you chow down on before your at-home distance runs.  Pre-plan your parking strategy and get there really early.  And for the love of Pete, please make sure your clothes are equipped to handle whatever the weather forecast is for the day, because getting caught with your pants down really sucks.

“but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint” – Isaiah 40:31

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

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