Saturday, September 17, 2011

Facing the 5k

I did it!  I ran a 5k this morning! One of my first, completely my idea, did it 100% for me, accomplishments as a widow. And I have to say that I feel like I could take on the world.  Amazing what working hard towards a simple 3 mile goal can do. And in case you are wondering on my time, I ran 36:19.  My very first personal record, cutting 3 minutes off my treadmill training time.

While my accomplishment today is monumental for me.  There is so much more to it than just running my butt off!  There are a few very valuable lessons I learned today that I want to share.

The gun went off and after running two short streets, and making a couple turns, I quickly realized the path we were going on.  Hills, lots of hills, steep hills.  Oh no! I have been running on my treadmill for 2 months (at zero incline nonetheless) and this race was meant to be the victory for that feat.  It was not supposed to be a challenge.  I was nervous enough about running on the actual pavement, without my fan blowing in my face.  It was a step of faith to be running in public- with people around who are likely so much faster than me.  But HILLS? Really?!?

I looked ahead of me, and kept a steady pace.  I determined I would stay strong up each hill, not wavering in my pace: steady and strong.  My new goal had shifted from ending the race to making it up this hill without walking!  People ran past me, but still I went, steady and strong.  And all the while hoping that at the top of the hill I would find our course adjusting away from this hilly road. So I made it to the top of the first hill, only to find another hill just a little further along the path.  In fact this course took me up and down several hills, perhaps 5 of them.  I am proud to say I didn't walk any of them. I stayed steady and strong, conquering each hill as it came.  I didn't think about any of the hills ahead, just the hill I was on, and navigating over it to the other side.  The first 2 miles continued like this, hill after hill, separated by a few down hill breaks.  It was such a relief when I discovered the last leg of the race was flat!

 So I conquered the hills, and I did it faster than the flat 3 miles I had run several times before.  Could it be that the presence of the hills, the challenge I faced actually caused me to perform better?  Could it be that seeing others around me navigating the hills with ease, or even walking them, encouraged me that I too could do this?  I believe this is how it is with life.

 I've had a hard few years, and I kept calling the events that happened "Bumps in the road".  But today I realize they were more than bumps- they were hills.  Hills that I didn't anticipate having to climb, but I turned the corner in life and there they were.  I really didn't have much of a choice, I had committed to this race, determined I was going to do it, and my goals had to shift. No longer were my goals about material things, or great accomplishments in life.  My goal was to make it over the hill, not even knowing if the other side held more hills, or a flat steady trail.

The 2 1/2 years leading up to and including my husband's death were the like the start of this race, hill after hill after hill.  He was struggling in his personal life, which led to struggles in every area of our life, marriage included.  And yet I made it through.  I conquered each hill, strong and steady.  I did it with determination, with faith; knowing my God was enough to carry me through it all, and I did it with support- God sending the right people at the right time.  Sometimes all I needed was the right verse in the Bible to get me through.

I've run through the hills, and here I am finishing this part of my journey on a flat path.  The absence of hills makes it seem easier, but I'm worn and tired from the difficulties I faced up to this point.  I am still trudging along, strong and steady, using the same resources which helped me make it this far.  And now I can see the finish line!  I push a little harder, because I know I've made it. I push a little harder because those hills have actually raised my endurance and made me stronger.  I push a little harder because there is something wonderful waiting for me at the finish line.  It's my three year old son.  He's standing up, waiting for me to take him by the hand, so we can race together.


  1. Yeah Jenn! Congrats on completing your first 5k!

  2. Congratulations!!! It truly is the "hills of life" that build our stamina and make us stronger. :)

  3. @Amy, Thank you! It was quite an accomplishment... now on to a half marathon.

  4. @Elizabeth, like most people I would have preferred a nice flat path through the woods, or maybe a meadow. But that's not life. Life happens... to all of us. The key is learning to let those hills build us and not break us!