I have been running a lot lately.
All the running culminates tomorrow with my third half marathon in four weeks. I’ve been training since January and, frankly, I’m ready for a break.
Things have been harder this year than they were last year. Last year, I trained and ran my first ever half marathon. The fear of failure was strong and I trained hard. I was prepared, mentally and physically, for the big race. Then it didn’t go as well as I wanted it to–my pace was considerably slower than I had trained for–so I signed up for another half two weeks later. Then a few weeks after that, a friend texted and said she had an extra bib for a half marathon she was running the next morning if I wanted to join her.
So without much planning, I did three half marathons last spring. I lived through it, set a personal record on the second one, and loved most of it. With those thoughts in mind, I purposely signed up for three this spring.
Running three half marathons in four weeks is difficult. Especially when you don’t train as hard as you did last time. But I haven’t died. Yet. I haven’t posted any super-impressive times, but I’ve crossed every finish line. I’m trying to run with more joy and pleasure than I normally do. I’m running with my dad which has made it better. He has to slow down a lot to run with me, but he doesn’t seem to mind too much.
You learn weird things about yourself when you’re ten miles into a half marathon and you just want to quit. You learn how mentally strong you are. You learn how mentally strong you are not. You learn what songs really get on your nerves and what songs give you just a little extra bit of energy.
This year I’ve been running my races with a verse on my arm, something to encourage or focus me. As I struggled through my first race feeling unprepared and lacking, I focused on Psalm 121: 2:
“…my strength comes from God who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.”
During my second race, the Mini-Marathon that kicks off the month of May celebrations here in Indy, I wanted to run for fun and joy. I didn’t want to focus on a time, I just wanted to feel the miracle of being able to run long distances and enjoy my time on the route so I had Psalm 63:4 on my arm:
“I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.”
In the beginning of the races, I was upbeat and happy, enjoying my verses and praising God.
As things progressed, the miles got longer, the body got more tired, and I got less joyful. I’m sure God was super-impressed with my attitude change as the miles continued.
Mile 2: joyfully repeating the verse, happy to be running and experiencing life!
Mile 4: this is fun! Praise the Lord! All the verses!
Mile 7: earnestly praying the verse, asking for focus and strength
Mile 11: angrily repeating the verse, followed by special commentary created by me
Mile 12: abandon all hope of repeating the verse and just resort to salty language
Mile 13: prayers to die
Finish line: the verses are back! We made it! Praise the Lord! He got me through!
I’m sure you can pick up all the morals of this story without me explaining in poetic detail why this is basically my whole life pattern explained in 13.1 miles.
So tomorrow, one last half marathon for the spring. I haven’t decided my verse yet, I’ll pick something during my quiet time before the race. I’m sure it will be encouraging, uplifting, and motivational. And at some point, I’ll abandon all hope, believe my God has forsaken me, and decide the race will never end.
Then the finish line will appear, I’ll be renewed and totally forget all the struggles. Yay, for a finish line. Let’s finish strong, friends.