Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sprinting a Marathon

Have you ever set out to do something and then realize that the intensity and pace at which you are moving there is no way you will ever keep going?  That's been my life, at least the last 10 months since being a widow, single mom, and every other hat I have been thrown into wearing.  I didn't choose this life, this path, or this road, but I here I am.  And its not a 5K, its a marathon! Its long, its intense, its hard.  I find myself asking, "is this ever gonna end?"  I have moments of endurance, and moments of overwhelming desire to quit and walk away.  I already have the t-shirt from when I check in, do I really need the medal from the finish line?

As I was running today I learned a valuable life lesson; one that I hope will help me to avoid future earthquakes, and gave me a much greater understanding of myself and the process my soul is in as it heals from tragedy.  I've been running now for over 3 months, and I'm making amazing progress.  Starting at just 1 mile, I am now up to 5 miles for long runs, and 4 miles (pushing the stroller) for short runs.  Today was a scheduled easy day: 2 miles.  Piece of cake! 2 miles with the stroller is nothing compared to the distance runs I've grown accustomed to.  So I made a very well intentioned, seemingly wise decision: push myself hard on this 2 mile run!  I was not going to run the 14-15 mile pace I have been on stroller and long runs.  I am stronger than before, I've done much harder things, and I am ready! So I ran at under just under a 12 minute pace- with the stroller.  [Note: for you non-runners that means I'm running 1 mile in just under 12 minutes.]

I started off with gusto! And by .5 miles, I knew I was in trouble.  The pace was hard, strenuous, and I was already winded.  It became obvious I was not going to make it to the 2 mile mark at this pace.  Immediately I adjusted my goal- push hard to the 1 mile mark.  I'm pleased to say I did this, but I was beat. I was winded.  My legs felt like lead.  I walked for almost .2 of a mile just to recover.  When it became time to run again, my energy was spent.  I wasn't looking forward to running, and it felt physically difficult to run.  Even though I lowered my pace to around 13 minutes, I didn't have the stamina to finish the second mile.  Even with another walk break, it took everything in me to finish.

Now 2 days ago I ran 4 miles, pushing the stroller. I felt great, I could speak comfortably and could have run further.  I enjoyed that run, and felt accomplished when I was done.  But today- not so.  I did not enjoy this run.  I found it very difficult and I regretted how I approached it.  When I was done I felt beat up, sore, and a little defeated.  What happened?  I became over confident.  I felt I was ready to handle something I was not.  I pushed myself beyond my limits.  I was unrealistic in my expectations and goals.

This is a picture of my life.  I have made so much progress in my emotional healing, in adjusting to my new life, and conquering the new demands placed on me- that I go ahead and push myself just a little bit further.  And I find myself sprinting the marathon!  I have to stop running, and walk to regain my strength.  I feel defeated and weak.  My soul hurts from the extra push it has been exposed to.  And when I do gather my strength to get back up and run- its just a little further down the path that I find myself walking again.  Why? I've exerted all my emotional strength in the first mile, and have little to nothing left to finish the race.

Another life lesson learned on the trail.  As I was pushing myself to finish that last half mile run, I knew this was what I had been doing in my personal life.  Sometimes it happens intentionally, I truly think that I am ready to take on more, and then when I do I find myself out of breath and struggling just to catch it.  At other times its accidental.  I don't even realize that I've pushed myself beyond my capacity... until I can't run any further.  I stop and walk and realize what I have done.  Maybe the pace was adjusted by adding meaningful activities to my schedule, attending extra church meetings, or adding social opportunities.  It may even be necessities: working extra days, or parenting.  Other people, often well meaning, can set expectations on me that bump up the speed at which I am running.  But whatever the cause, it has pushed me to run at a pace I can't possibly maintain.  Not now. Not at this point in my training.

Being on this marathon, I've learned to watch, to be diligent, and learn to say "no."  Several months into it I felt God closing a lot of doors.  He took me out of every activity I was involved in.  He knew I had 26 miles to run, and if I kept running at the pace I was, I was going to keel over on the sidelines along the way.  I've found I have to stand up and defend my pace from time to time.  People put expectations on me that I can't possibly fulfill.  They are well intentioned but they don't understand the balance of running the "widow's marathon".   Its easy to talk and sing while walking down the street.  But while running a marathon those simple everyday tasks are much more difficult.   And they effect if I cross the finish line or not.  I try to use my life like a runner uses a running watch.  The watch tells me how far I've run, the pace I'm running at, and my heart rate.  As long as I take time to look at the watch, I will know all the information and can make the right decision.  By knowing my pace, and how far I have left to run, I can adjust myself accordingly.  I am determined to finish this race. And to finish it steady and strong!

No comments:

Post a Comment