Monday, May 6, 2013

Things I Learned From My First Big Run

Last week I ran a half marathon.  Now, I know that lots of people have run these types of things, but for me it was a big deal, in part because it was an unexpected event!  Being true to myself, I can't do something like that and walk away from it without some reflection on how it applies to real life!  :)  Here are a few reminders that I took away from my experience:

1.  Spontaneity is fun.

The race started at 7:30 am, and I didn't know I would be running 13.1 miles until 7:15.  My wonderfully talented runner of a husband was supposed to run with Ashlyn.  But he is occasionally plagued with a terrible bout of back pain, and it just so happened that Saturday morning was one such occasion.  We knew that if he ran it would only worsen and cause greater problems, so we decided that I would run with Ashlyn as far as I could.  I didn't even have a chance to stress about it!

This came at a time when I had lately been feeling in a bit of a rut with some things.  Sometimes doing something spontaneously can really lift you out of it.  It worked for me!

Not a very flattering picture of me, but I'm not here to win any beauty contests!  Haha!  I took this while running!  :)
2.  Encouragement is nice.

All along the way there were people cheering, encouraging us along.  It was so...well...encouraging!  We never heard anyone telling us that we were going too slow, or that we weren't going to make it, or that we had no business being there.  It was all cheers, and how motivating it was!

As Christians we are instructed by God to encourage and build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11).  But how often do we just throw out judgement or comparison?  I loved hearing "Good job!"  "You're almost there!"  "You've got this!"  And so on.  We need to say these sorts of things to each other as we walk (or run) together in the faith.  

3.  My daughter is a pretty cool kid.

Yes, I already knew that.  But this was such a special time with her!  We weren't running fast, so we were able to chat every now and then, about serious and non-serious things.  She was very patient with me as I had to stop three times and stretch my not-very-well-conditioned legs.  We both hit a milestone (literally I guess!) as we crossed the five mile mark, since neither of us had ever run that far!  :)  

One-on-one time with our kids is important and very precious.  It doesn't have to be a "date" where you go somewhere together.  Even reading a book together, playing a game together, exercising together or just having a conversation before bed is time well spent.  
Ashlyn and her cousin, who also ran the race (with another aunt).

4.  It's usually better to train beforehand.

Understatement of the year!!  I was not in shape to run this race very well, and my body started to feel it around mile eight!  We ran the whole time (except for the stretching) and I finished it, but OWWWWW!  Pain, pain, pain, pain, pain.  

I can feel it when I haven't properly prepared for the school day too.  Or when I am faced with something difficult and I haven't been preparing myself with prayer and God's Word.  The Bible says in Ephesians 6 that we must prepare ourselves for attacks from the Enemy by putting on the armor of God.  I think it would be safe to say that preparation, in many cases, can help relieve pain and make things go more smoothly.  

Jason had to stretch my legs as soon as I finished!  
5.  Perseverance is worth the prize.

My prize that day was the medal I received at the finish line for completing the race, and also that I was able to stop running!  :)  But my real prize was that wonderful sense of accomplishment.  To some this may not seem like a big deal, but I never dreamed I would ever finish a half-marathon!  The last five miles were agonizing on the IT band in both of my legs, but there was no way I was quitting.  First, for Ashlyn, and second, because after eight miles, my goal was to finish and I was GOING to finish!!  
I like to think that my lips are "bluish" because of the Powerade.  As far as I know, my oxygen level was okay.  Haha!
The sense of "I did it!" is a good feeling, and I am still happy about the whole experience (sore legs and all!)  But, alas, it was just a race.  A temporary occasion.  Something that really has no eternal significance.  But that is not so with my walk with Christ, or my position as a wife and mother, or as a homeschooler.  I love Christ.  I love my family.  But there are times when the trials are hard, the days are long and the journey is painful.  But there is a prize!  And it will ultimately come when my "race" on earth is finished and I see my Savior face to face.  Perseverance during our time on this fallen earth is completely worth the prize of seeing our risen Lord in all of His glory.

You know, it's funny, because I've never had a desire to run a half-marathon.  But now that I've done it, I think I'll try it again -- with some preparation next time, of course!  I do thank the Lord for sustaining me and giving me the health to attempt such a thing, and for helping me to be reminded of the spiritual truths that can be found in the everyday occurrences of life.