I have been dreading this blog post. Avoiding it. Ignoring it. Walking away from it. This post is about how I finished but still felt like I had failed.
As most of you all know, I have been training for my third half marathon. As a reluctant runner, I have been proud of my progress. As a practitioner of faith + fitness, I have had some major illuminating runs that just kept me going. I have been at one with God on several of my runs. I had some mountain-top type runs. The Holy Spirit was STRONG in my running shoes. I had some Solomon running through my veins. I was feeling pretty fierce.
Maybe this would be the run that I conquered a PR. Maybe this would be the race where I flew. Maybe this would be the race that I didn't get sick. Maybe, just maybe, I would finally feel like a runner after this one.
None of the above happened.
I ran. I finished.
I also walked. I almost threw up. The dry heaves started around mile eight. The sun was relentless. There was no shade. There was either no breeze, or it was blowing straight in our faces. Our "flat" course was one rolling hill after another with no respite in sight. My knee went around mile ten. My quad started cramping around mike 11. I was simply unprepared even after all my training. Everyone in my group commented on the physical and psychological difficulties with this race.
My pacing watch was about a half mile faster than the course markers which kept throwing me off. For the first time, as my mileage goals slipped by slower and slower, I had a real fear that this might be the race I didn't finished. I actively looked for the medics on the road. I cried. I whimpered.
This was an awful run. Not even the thought of a cold beer post race lifted my spirits. I just wanted to be done. There was no joy and smiles. There was just the need to be done. DONE.
At one point, I groaned so loud that a fellow runner asked me if I was ok. She then proceeded to cheer me on and offer a litany of encouragement that led me to put one foot in front of the other. She was my angel on that course. I have no idea who she was. But she called me to run. I was sooooooo close at this point. There was no goal to finish, It was just a moment of just do it. I swore off running. I swore off ever training for another half. I might have sworn off running all together at one point. It was THAT bad.
You see, some people might have called it grit and determination. The truth is that I was afraid to fail. I'm a fitness and health professional for God's sake. I encourage people to do this as a part of my calling. I am a great motivator. I Am a great connector. I am not afraid. I walk the talk.
Well. You know. Even in the best of us: sometimes we walk the talk while we blubber. There's probably tears and snot and pain and fear and sadness involved, but we continue on this journey. That's not much different from being a Christian. God didn't necessarily say the Journey would be easy. In fact, I'm pretty sure he told us that it would be hard. Unforgiving. Unrelenting and very difficult.
I've come to realize that running will never be easy for me. I'm pretty sure I will never be a natural runner. I'm pretty sure that being a Christian will never be easy either. I may cross myself. Call my angels. Call my patron saints. Pray without ceasing and have bounds of faith. But it doesn't necessarily make it easier. This is the road I have chosen. Whether with running shoes or walking shoes I plan to tread it.
PS: what you don't see in this picture is that despite our smiles, one of us is nursing a calf sprain, one of us has a foot injury, and one of us can't put weight on her knee. But by God, we did it.