Sunday, November 08, 2009


So. I have been running for an entire year now. This is truly a bizarre thing for me to say because, well, I really don't like to run.

Here's where I will take a moment and tell you that despite what I have been told by people, I can personally attest to the fact that not *everyone* who runs is "a runner." I think that holds true even if you've been running for quite some time and have made progress in your endurance and speed. To me, you are "a runner" when you SEE yourself as "a runner" and FEEL like you're "a runner."

Have I improved my endurance? Yes. Speed? Yes. Confidence? Yep.
Do I enjoy it any more than I did when I first started? Ummm - not so much, actually.

I still cannot say that I enjoy it. (Really not at all.) I will say that I don't *hate* it, but I enjoy the benefits of running and THAT is why I continue to do it. As for a runner's high or anything like that? Nope. Never. I think that my husband likes me running a lot more than I like me running.

So, anyway - last weekend it was absolutely gorgeous outside and I decided that rather than head to the gym, I'd go for a run. I got all ready to go -- my favorite workout shirt that wicks the sweat away, the undies that don't give me an eternal wedgie while I'm running, my favorite pair of capri exercise pants, my running shoes, my cell phone (in case I get hurt or something), and my iPod. I strapped on my music and headed out the door.

I decided to just "go" and not really plan my route like I normally do. I've gotten to know the basics of how to get around our neighborhood the past few weeks, so I was confident that I had a few different route options available based on how I was feeling. We were taking the kids out to dinner after I got back and I wasn't really all that much in the mood for exercise anyway, so I told Chris when I left that I didn't think I'd go very far. (In my old neighborhood I had an easy little one mile run loop that I did on days like that.)

When I did the couch to 5k program last year, the little guy in my iPod who told me when to run suggested that you *always* do a 5 minute warmup and a 5 minute cooldown. Being the rule follower that I am when it comes to this stuff, I still do it every time. As usual, with about a minute left, I started to dread my walk coming to an end because I knew it meant I had to start running. I get this almost panicky feeling inside, which is well - dumb - because no one is *making* me run. Anyway, I got that wonky feeling and shoved it aside and decided that I would just start and run until I wanted to stop. If it ended up being only five minutes, fine. My goal was twenty minutes, but if I just felt sort of BLAH before then, I gave myself permission to just walk. (Like I said, so NOT "a runner.")

I started off on a part of the sidewalk that was still covered with ice and slush from the previous week's blizzard. I put my foot in a puddle and thought "Greaaaaat. Love the way this is starting out." Ya know, all sorts of positive self talk and things like that! I fiddled around with my iPod until I found some music that made me want to beebop along. I think it may have been "Put a ring on it" or something classy like that.

So, the first part of the route that I followed was down a big hill, which is always nice to just coast along. The second part was relatively flat and up to that point, my biggest issue was dodging more slushy/icy parts of the path. I felt pretty good and wasn't feeling at all like I needed to stop -- I think when I looked it had been about 12 minutes or so. I typically run about 10 minute miles so I knew I'd done at least a mile by then and felt good about that.

And THENNNNNN I got to the bottom of the hill and looked up.


My old neighborhood was really flat and there was just one hill that was challenging and I tended to avoid it like the plague. Since we've moved, I've found that unless I literally run around in a little circle in my immediate neighborhood, I will be running on hills now. The one that I found myself faced with was pretty sizeable. It started gradually but then climbed quite a bit in a relatively short distance. I looked it up on my beloved Map My Run site when I got home (or as I call it, the website for people who don't have a Garmin) and found that I climbed 128 feet on my run, and I guarantee you that at least 100 feet of it was on that hill. That is a LOT for me. (Personally, I think it's a lot for anyone, but especially me.)

So, there I was. Feeling good about my run so far, not feeling like I needed/wanted to stop, was enjoying the weather and running through a new part of our surrounding neighborhood, and WHAMMO. The hill. As I turned the corner and started up the gradual incline, I tried to make a mental game plan. The first thing I did was decide that I was GOING to run up this hill. Not walk, but RUN. Why? Ummm, not sure, but that's what I decided. I also decided that I could not do it alone, so the second thing I did was switch the music on my iPod to what my hubby refers to as my "God Rock." (I believe that I chose "My Deliverer" by Mandisa.) The last thing I did was start reciting Phillipians 4:13 which says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

So, NOW, there I was. Running up a ginormous hill, God Rock blarin' in my ears, my power verse running through my mind. Still feeling like this just was not gonna happen because even though I was working as hard as I could at that point, I literally felt like I was almost standing still. I just kept telling myself - RUN. Then my power verse. RUN. Then my power verse. I was not at ALL concerned about a time, I just wanted to run up the hill -- the ENTIRE hill. About halfway up, the hill sort of went back to a more gradual incline instead of a steep grade for about 50 yards or so. It was almost like a little valley because it made my heart sink to see that on the other side of it was another steep grade. I thought "No WAY can I do that again."

Instead of celebrating how far I'd already run up the hardest part of the hill or the fact that I'd actually *kept* runnning instead of just deciding to walk -- I let my limited view of the next challenge suck the wind out of my sails. I accepted a defeated mentality before I'd even arrived at the next hard part. And guess what? When I got closer and started up that portion of the hill, I found that it wasn't nearly as steep as I had thought it would be! I also discovered that I was *really* close to the top.

I kept plugging away and kept my feet a runnin' and as I reached the top of the hill, it struck me how often I do the same thing in my life. Instead of taking a moment to gather my strength, draw on previous successes for motivation and confidence, and refocus my mind -- many times when I find that I'm facing another challenge, I mentally throw in the towel before I even begin. The thing is, just like the top part of that hill, I am pretty good at psyching myself out and making issues and problems bigger than they are or need to be. It's part of my recurring issue where I try to rely solely on myself and don't look to God for the strength, peace, comfort and guidance that I know I'll receive when I ask. Why do I do this over and over??

As I was contemplating those thoughts, I turned the corner and was now headed home. My legs felt like jello, my lungs were burning, and I was sweating like crazy. I just wanted to stop. When I ran in my old neighborhood, I had a few "finish lines" for myself. A tree and a stopsign. The end of a block. Things like that. I decided that I needed a new finish line for my run and decided on the end of the block that I had just started on.

At that point, I was really wanting to just walk. Like REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY wanting to walk. I could feel myself starting to play the whole "It's okay to stop here" game with myself because the end of the block (it was a long one) seemed so far away. I decided to put on my favorite motivating song, Unwritten. (If you've never checked out the lyrics, take a second and do it.)

As the first few chords started playing, I looked down and saw a trail of dried blood on the sidewalk. It seemed like someone had a bloody nose or something -- just a trail of drops that I was following. My power verse immediately surged back into my mind. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." As I kept running, I found that I couldn't take my eyes off of the trail of blood. My heart swelled as I realized that it is *through* Christ and not my own efforts that I am capable of anything. (Obviously, I mean things within reason - I'm not going to try and fly or anything!) But really -- in every instance, when I look back on challenges I've faced in my life -- big ones or small ones, the times that I have felt the most safe, secure, at peace, confident, full of strength are the ones where I have focused on the Lord.

*I* am in charge of how I set my mind. *I* am in charge of how I handle challenges and adversity. *I* am in charge of whether I decide to go it alone or follow Him. He loves me so much that he paid the ultimate price for me, yet I routinely think that I am all I need. (My heart knows better, but so many times that's the way I live.) As I finished out the last part of my run, I found that the trail of blood stopped and I was left with a clean path again. He has wiped my slate clean and by seeking Him and His forgiveness, His mercy has washed all of the hurt and doubt and sorrow and pain and guilt away.

I felt such a sense of gratitude and accomplishment when I reached my new finish line. As I walked home, I put that song on repeat and just soaked it in. Every day *is* unwritten and it *is* up to me to invite Christ into my everyday life and not try to do it all alone. I am in charge of making that choice to follow him and not waste the gift of his mercy and grace when it is just waiting for me to take advantage of. That is my prayer, that I can remember that moment of following the blood stained path and use it to guide my way through challenges and adversity instead of trying to muscle my way through on my own.


Tracey said...

That's awesome. I would submit that as an article to MomSense for MOPS. I can't run right now but they said 6-8 months after my surgery so late summer/early fall 2010 I could run if my surgery goes as expected (or better!). That was my verse today as I started walking at the YMCA. Good glory was that first mile something. I wish C hadn't "hid" my iPod b/c there's some kick butt music that I have. Here's a new song for you -

Lynn said...

Great story...both entertaining and insightful.

Shelley said...

Wow Tara, that was beautiful. How wonderful to read your words again!

Alana said...

I'm with Shelley. Wow! I was kind of skimming through blogs...have way to many to catch up on and this post caught my eye with the running. I am a non-runner that runs, too. I couldn't have expressed my own feelings any better than you did in this post! I have been on a little hiatus for a few months, but I'm getting back into it. Wish we were closer and could run together!

奇怪 said...


Alana said...

Hey Girl! How are you? I haven't seen your updates on FB lately, or maybe they just aren't showing up in my feed? I hop you are well!