Thursday, November 21, 2013

A good run

If you read last week's post, you know that this past weekend I competed in another marathon. I never get tired of running them, and with each new course I am presented with a slightly different perspective and a slightly different challenge.
The one aspect I am walking away with from this race, is a greater appreciation for friendship. Transition has not been the easiest thing for me. Moving from a place I loved, to a place that was unfamiliar has proven to be difficult. On top of that, I moved from a place where I was loved, and a place where I felt community, to a place where I am still a stranger, somewhat of an unknown to those around me. This past weekend was a great reminder of the friendships I have as people came from across the country to make the weekend a three day party. Two amazing things really stuck out to me in this; first of all there were a total of five former BFA staff that rubbed shoulders throughout the weekend. Among all of us, I was the only one who had served with everyone else. Some were only there for my first year, and others in years four and five. Yet, the fact that they did not actually meet at BFA, but still had Germany in common - allowed for there to be a unique bond. Certain restaurants were mentioned, or local festivals, and there was no glazed look saying "what does that mean?" rather a joyous smile proclaiming, "I remember that!"
I also walked away thankful for a training partner and someone who was willing to take every step of the race with me - even if I was a solid twenty minutes behind. One of my closest friends also ran the race, and in the past months we spent numerous afternoons together pushing each other up countless hills. We stayed together through part of the race until I could no longer keep up, but still passed by each other at certain turn-around points. The rush of energy, support, and motivation that he provided, was amazing.

The race itself... went really well. It was only 28 days prior to this that I ran in Columbus, so I was really unsure how my body was going to react to doing two marathons in such a short span. Some cautioned me to not go out and race it, rather just go slow. I'm too competitive to do that. So I went out at the same speed I did in Columbus. Shortly after the 13 mile mark I knew I could not maintain that for another 13 miles, so I slowly eased up and set a new goal: beat my time from Columbus. When I crossed the finish line, I beat Columbus by about 45 seconds. I was (and still am) very happy and proud of the way I ran. Not only was I able to run two marathons in a month, but my second was actually faster than my first. The thing that gives me the greatest satisfaction is the way I ran the final 6 miles. Sure they were slower than my ideal, but they were characterized by strength; physically, mentally and emotionally. With the time I put up, this now becomes my second best time ever. I'm still chasing the Boston Qualification, but that will come eventually.

In all honesty, I think one of the main reasons I was able to finish with such strength, is because I knew I had so many people cheering me on around the world. I'm pretty sure I hear from just as many people on my birthday as I do when I run a race, which is awesome. The day before, and day after, my phone is constantly buzzing. My email is piling up. So many people send in words of encouragement and inspiration. And it truly helps. In the later miles of the race on more than one occasion I had the thought, "You are going to have to tell _____ how you finished in the final six miles, you don't want to tell him you were tired and weak, do you?" The words, prayers, encouragement, were all very much appreciated, and very helpful. Thank you.

In the days since I have been extremely sore. Today was the first day where I was able to walk down a flight of stairs without grabbing onto a handrail. I sit down and think to myself, "Oh, I'm not that sore, it's not too bad!" Then I stand up and realize...everything hurts. Yet for some reason I absolutely love it. In's about time to go and sign up for the next one...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Out with the old, in with the new

I recently bought a new pair of running shoes and couldn’t help but laugh at how drastically different my old shoes looked when sitting next to the new ones. They are in fact the exact same model/type of shoe, but one pair has significantly more miles on them. Though it may sound odd, I always find it a bit emotionally difficult to part ways with a pair of running shoes. The shoes become a part of my runs, and become a part of the story that each marathon tells. These particular shoes were a part of my marathon in Freiburg, Germany this past April, as well as the half marathon that took me through France, Germany and Switzerland. Lastly, they journeyed with me through the Columbus marathon about a month ago, before finally being retired. The dates on the shoes remind me of the races we did together, and the things I was focusing on throughout those races. Joy. Community. Worship. Relax. 

Now it is time to bring in a new pair. It is time to tackle more races. With a brand new pair of shoes it took me quite a while to figure out exactly what I wanted to write for my next race. This Sunday I am running my seventh marathon and was edging dangerously close to race day without a clear-cut focus. This past Monday on one of my final runs before race day it finally came to me; strength and honor. 

Yes. These words are found in the movie, Gladiator. It is one of my all-time favorite movies, but I also think it brings two great words to focus on. Strength. A month ago in Columbus I did not finish the marathon in the fashion I was hoping. The "wall" was pretty brutal to me. I did not finish strong like I had hoped to. With that in mind, I am determined to run this race with greater strength. That term is not limited to physical strength (which would translate into a faster time). Strength is needed mentally and emotionally. Honor. You don't have to know me very long before you will pick up on the fact that I am competitive. I don't like losing and I don't like when I fail to reach my goals. I have set a high bar for myself. But that's the way goals are supposed to be - they are supposed to be within grasp, yet difficult to accomplish. Regardless of what the time says on Sunday, I want to cross that finish line proud of what I have accomplished. Feeling as though I went out and did the best I could. Strength and honor. 

I'll see you in 26.2 miles.