“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
November 2, 2014 marked an important milestone in my life. . . I ran my first half marathon. For some people that might not seem like much of an accomplishment—it was only half a marathon after all. But for me, it was truly something to write home about, or at least to write here about. As many of you who know me can attest, my body shape does not lend itself to long distance running. When we think of distance runners we immediately imagine tall lanky individuals who are the last people on earth who need to exercise. Well I am neither tall (5′ 4″) nor lanky (rather round and Hobbit-like) so I don’t fit the profile. I very well could have been the brunt of Sheldon’s joke to Leonard on The Big Bang Theory when he quipped that Leonard was “short and oddly shaped”. So 13.1 miles for this hobbit was indeed something to celebrate! But what did I learn on this journey?
1. The human body is capable of doing much more than I ever thought possible.
Prior to training for this race, I had never run more than three miles in my life. I had run a lot of miles (mostly in junior high in the early 80s) and even more sprints (mostly high school in the mid 80s), but had never delved into the long-distance arena. While I never imagined I could run even a half marathon, I now realize that with enough preparation and effort, the possibilities are endless. I’m now wanting to look into other half marathons and perhaps even consider a tri-athalon. It is all in the realm of possibility. . . and I even bought a new pair of shoes to continue my training.
2. Goals are more easily accomplished with friends.
It was a friend, Eric Johns, who suggested I run the race in the first place, though sadly he had to back out for health reasons. Other friends, John Nelson, Rodge Cayette, Brant and Rachel Curtis, trained with me and encouraged me along the way. Of course Mimi and the girls were also a source of constant support. . . and Mimi even ran many miles with me. I’m not sure I would have stuck it out without this support over the three months I trained for the race.
3. There are degrees to success with our goals.
During training my times were all over the map. I ran everything from an 8 minute mile to over 11 minutes. But somewhere along the way, I settled into a pace that was about 9 and 1/2 minutes per mile. So my goal for myself was to complete the half in less than 10 minutes per mile or about 2 hours and 10 minutes. I had thought that I could perhaps run with either John Nelson or Brant and Rachel Curtis. John decided to run with an American Flag to bring awareness to Team RWB (Red, White & Blue) and the Curtis’ were also running a much slower pace than I wanted for myself. In the end, I was thrilled with my time and thrilled for my friends who completed the race and met their goals as well.
4. Training in one area can often cause problems in another.
My primary outlet, especially before I started running, was my Monday night softball games. Weekly getting together with the guys and reliving our youth on the softball field is great fun and a limited amount of exercise. The problem for me arose when I would show up to my games and my legs would still be in recovery or various stages of injury from that morning or even the long runs on Saturdays. I’m sure I caused a good deal of laughter among my teammates for the funny ways I walked and ran and pursued the ball when my legs were like jello. I would have thought that the running would only enhance my play, but at least in the short-term that wasn’t always the case.
5. Running provides solitude that can be difficult to find elsewhere.
I chose to do most of my training as well as the race itself primarily by myself. I don’t tend to be a person who cherishes alone time. In fact as an ENFP, I long to with people. . . all the time. But running gives me the opportunity to think, pray, listen to music and just be. In many ways, this revelation was completely unexpected. While it may have been the part of the journey that I was least looking forward to, in the end it became the part that I enjoyed most. Running has become an integral part of my spiritual disciplines, so while this started as an item on a bucket list, I now envision it as a regular part of my life.