Guest Post: Embracing The Race

I’d like to introduce you to Lisa Preuett. When I met her a couple of years ago at a writer’s conference, we discovered we had running in common as well as writing! She had a devotional in the works at the time, and the early drafts she shared totally resonated with my runner’s heart. If you know me, you know I’ve always been moved by the parallels between running and my relationship with Jesus. Well, the devotional that was “in the works” is now a reality. Lisa is guest posting here today, and whether you’re a runner or not, her new book, Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul, is sure to speak to your soul too.

“What’s your pace?”

This is a common question you’ll hear frequently among runners. It’s also a number you must sometimes enter on race registration forms. It’s easy to obsess about exactly how long it takes one to cover the distance of a mile.

Early in my running journey, I quickly realized that everyone runs a different pace. Some bolt out like a flash of lightning, determined to win the race. Others fall into the “back of the pack” category, bringing up the rear. And in between these two extremes are a myriad of other paces.

Could I run at a faster pace at the start of a long race? Absolutely! But could I maintain that pace throughout the rest of the race? Not a chance. If I started out sprinting with all my might, I’d quickly drain myself of the energy I need to reach the finish line.

My determination is focused on finishing the race at my own unique pace, not trying to keep up with someone else.

Maybe you’re not a runner and can’t relate to the race environment. Perhaps you have no intentions of ever lacing up running shoes.

But runner or not, you are running a race.

In Hebrews 12:1-2, Paul depicts the Christian life as a race. He urges us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.”

The Christian life is a long distance race we are called to live one step at a time. There are obstacles. Hills to climb.  Sometimes we are running quickly at a smooth pace. Other times we hit the wall and feel like giving up before we reach the finish line.

Jesus started the race with us and is also waiting at the finish line.  No medal or cash prize could ever come close to the eternal joy we will experience when we see Him face to face.

There are so many powerful parallels between running and our faith journey with Jesus! They paint vivid pictures of what we encounter in this race called life.

Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul, will awaken your mind to these parallels. You’ll be equipped with scripture, encouraged to persevere and inspired with determination. You’ll be challenged to plunge deeper in your walk with God!My book, Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul, will awaken your mind to these parallels. You’ll be equipped with scripture, encouraged to persevere and inspired with determination. You’ll be challenged to plunge deeper in your walk with God!

Each day’s reading will give you a peek into the runner’s world, a fresh Biblical insight, practical life application, soul-searching reflections and a heart-felt prayer.

Kyle Idleman, best-selling author of Not a Fan says this about the book:

Honest and fun to read, you’ll find encouragement and challenge that come from Bible passages and through the language of a runner. If you’re a runner, you’ll love this book. If you’re not a runner, there is plenty here for you, too.”

Embracing The Race releases on November 14th and is available here on Amazon in paperback and Kindle version.

Lisa Preuett is a follower of Jesus, wife and mom of two. An avid runner, she’s completed multiple races from 5K to full marathon. Actively involved in women’s ministry, she thrives on encouraging others in their faith. She resides in Taylorsville, KY. You can connect with her at www.reststopforthesoul.comLisa Preuett is a follower of Jesus, wife and mom of two. An avid runner, she’s completed multiple races from 5K to full marathon. Actively involved in women’s ministry, she thrives on encouraging others in their faith. She resides in Taylorsville, KY. You can connect with her at www.reststopforthesoul.com

Throwback Thursday: Who needs a laugh?

You guys. I’m running the Charlotte Half Marathon this Saturday, and all I can really say is that I’ve actually been training, so THANK HEAVENS this won’t be a repeat of THAT ONE YEAR. Do you remember? No? Oh good, this will be fun. Happy Throwback Thursday, friends. I present to you: my dumbest race ever.

Originally published on March 10, 2014.

I did something really stupid.If you’re looking for how to run your BEST RACE EVER - this is totally NOT IT. (But if you want to feel better about yourself - or just need a really good laugh - you want to read this right now.)

I ran a half marathon.

For which I had not trained.

I don’t mean I just didn’t get in any tempo runs or mile repeats or whatever. I mean my longest “long run” was 5 miles. Also, my average weekly mileage was 5 miles. So basically I’d been going for a 5-mile run once a week for the past 8 weeks. That means this half marathon was 13.1 miles of Pure Crazy, people.

Back when I registered, the plan had been to give myself something to train for and set myself up to feel like complete awesomeness on my 35th birthday.

As described above, that didn’t really pan out, but my competitive nature still kicked in and said, “Do it. You can gut this out. Get out there. This thing CAN’T HOLD YOU DOWN. YOU’RE ARUNNERDAMMIT.”

That kind of self-talk can only lead to good things, right?

Fast forward to race morning. My alarm goes off. I don’t remember why my alarm is going off so early on a Saturday morning. I hit snooze, drowsily hoping I’ll know what’s going on when it goes off again.

Alarm goes off again. I bolt upright in bed, remembering: RACE. This thought is not met with joy.

Stumbling into the bathroom, I find a note from my husband written in shaving cream across the bathroom mirror. “Good luck. Love u.” My first thought is, “Seriously, I JUST cleaned that damn mirror. I am not cleaning that up.” Then I decide it was thoughtful and I’m a jerk.

I go through an abbreviated version of my race-morning routine. The abbreviated version because, typically, hitting snooze is not included in the routine and I’m suddenly panicked because I don’t know how to get to where I need to park uptown and why did I hit snooze I NEED THOSE NINE MINUTES BAAAAACK.

I grab my race bib & a cup of coffee, and run out the door.

I get three minutes away from my house and realize I’m starving and about to run a half marathon on a glass of water and a cup of coffee.

So, naturally, I go through the McDonald’s Drive Thru. Yes, really.

I eat a Bacon, Egg, & Cheese. ON MY WAY TO THE RACE. Like a boss.

My ninja-like navigation skillz lead me successfully around the correct parking garage three times and then into a different parking garage and then straight to the (3/4-mile-long) line of women waiting to use the bathroom.

Next stop: the starting line. This race doesn’t have designated pacing groups, and the half-marathon start is combined with the 5K start. So determining similarly-paced runners can be tricky. Left to my own devices, I resort to a tried and true method: look at people and make judgements about their fitness level based on their appearance.

The man with the teeny shorts, spindly legs, and Garmin the size of his head?
Too fast for me.

The woman in the compression socks and double braids with ice in her veins?
Too fast for me.

I wisely choose to start near the big man wearing jeans.

The gun goes off. Eleven minutes later, I cross the starting line.

The next 5 miles are quite delightful. Of course they are. I run 5 miles every week.

Miles 6, 7, & 8 are less delightful, but I’m still moving, spurred along by the cheers and homemade signs of my fans the people who know the people around me.

SIDE NOTE: In the “Homemade Signs That Made Me Smile Through the Pain” Contest, an adorable pair of little boys win 1st place with:
HURRY MOMMY! DAD DIDN’T FEED US.

Second place goes to:
SMILE IF YOU’RE NOT WEARING UNDERWEAR
(Although I actually am wearing underwear, so I quickly turn my smile into a frown for the sake of accuracy.)

Third place belongs to:
RUN YOUR BUTT OFF!!! Oh wait, you don’t have one.

And honorable mention goes to:
GOOD JOB YOU’RE BEATING ALL THE PEOPLE BEHIND YOU

The reason the last one only receives an honorable mention is I can only smile for a moment before I’m paranoid that THERE IS NO ONE BEHIND ME. I am in last place, aren’t I?

But I reach mile 9, and something wonderful happens. My legs go numb.

I run the next mile or so in a zombie-like state, thinking, “Just get to 10 before you walk.”

I pass the 10-mile mark, the numbness fades, and the pain rolls in with a vengeance. My competitive side suddenly barks, “Suck it up! You DON’T WALK IN A RACE!”

My realistic side says, “Excuse me. You are not, in fact, racing. You had a Bacon, Egg, & Cheese for breakfast, and you are shuffling. You can walk faster than you are currently running.”

I walk.

Fellow competitors shuffle past (I wasn’t in last place!), and through miles 10-12, I intersperse 3-4 walk breaks amid my shuffle-running.

With one (POINT ONE) mile to go, I find new strength. (Due in small part to my strong desire for the whole thing to be over already, and in large part to the woman on the sidewalk holding the neon green sign declaring, “YOU CAN.”)

I make the last turn, and the final quarter mile lies before me. At that very moment, heaven opens and the angels start singing “Can’t Hold Us.” Okay, maybe it’s Macklemore on my playlist, but whatevs. It’s a gift from the good Lord, and I receive it.

I truck it across the finish line like the man in jeans is chasing me. (Kind of fast, but not really.) Before I even know what has happened, I’m holding a finisher’s medal and a bottle of PowerAde.

I wish I had a huge spiritual epiphany to share about this experience. But sometimes the only epiphany He gives me is, “It’s really stupid to not train for a half marathon and then run it anyway. But good job. Kind of.”

Well, amen to that. Here’s to learning lessons the hard way. And Advil. Lots and lots of Advil.

You can only carry yourself so far, Warrior.

I went to a women’s conference this weekend. It was the Belong Tour, and to be honest I only bought a ticket because I was SO. EXCITED. TO SEE JEN HATMAKER! There were other amazing women there as well, and Glennon from Momastery even made a guest appearance! The whole weekend was funny and touching; I laughed, I cried… you know the drill.

But, can I be really honest here? I didn’t come away feeling the way I expected. On the surface, I should’ve come away feeling inspired, challenged, pepped up. Instead, I was left wanting. Maybe even let down

I stewed over my feelings. Was I just being overly critical?

The weekend was full of incredible women telling me inspiring things. Honestly, it felt like a big warm bath of positivity. We can do hard things! You belong! You have what it takes! God won’t ever give you more than you can handle! All the love you’re looking for is right there inside of you! But you guys. As wonderful as it feels, if I sit too long in a warm bath of positivity, I will gradually be lulled to sleep.

And drown.

What I realized is quite simple: I really don’t need another pep talk. I don’t need someone to keep telling me how awesome I am. I know it’s weird – what woman doesn’t want to keep hearing she is strong, she is brave, she is capable, she is a world changer? But that’s where my “let-down” feeling came in: I believe it is a great disservice to promise courage, strength, and belonging without a clear and formal introduction to the One who can deliver on those promises. I AM NOT MY OWN DELIVERER.

I heard Glennon Doyle Melton from Momastery & Jen Hatmaker speak this weekend at the Belong Tour! So much encouragement! So much empowerment! Inspiration and quotes galore. But there was also something else important. And I didn't even see it coming. Ladies, we don’t just need more pep rallies and positive self-talk. We need our foundation strengthened. We need to know how to study the Bible – God’s Word – so we may recognize in other’s words what is true – and what is not. We need to know WHO MAKES US STRONG. We need to know that actually, God quite often DOES give me more than I can handle, but that He is there to offer His strength to walk me through it.

Christian women, I am speaking to you (myself included) here. I think some of us have become so enamored with these beautiful, good-willed, funny, inspirational women – who even talk about God!!! – that we have gradually, imperceptibly, begun to seek – and even find, although temporarily – life in their words.

You are loved. Yes, you are. God loves you – so much that He sacrificed His Son Jesus for you to have access to that love. THAT is the key. God loves you – and the access point for you to RECEIVE and EXPERIENCE the FULLNESS of that love is Jesus.

You can do hard things. Yes, you can. But where does your strength come from? I can do a lot in my own strength. You bet I can.  But by the strength of Jesus Christ in me, I can bear all things. If you have not experienced what it means to find your strength in Jesus, if you have gone from pep talk to pep talk, devouring book after book, blog post after blog post, inhaling every breath of earthly encouragement you can find, I invite you: Taste and see that the Lord is good! HE is the hero in this story!

You can only carry yourself so far, warrior. And hear me loud and clear: there is no shame in that. We can ALL only carry ourselves so far. THAT IS THE POINT. The victory isn’t in carrying yourself through the battle; the victory is in knowing the Victor: He who has already won the battle on your behalf.

You are strong, capable, and smart. Through a relationship with Jesus, you have access to the very Holy Spirit of God who breathed the Word of God onto the page. Are you studying His Word as devotedly as hers?

If your biggest dream is to be part of Glennon’s momastery or Jen’s tribe, go for it! But, if deep down what you long for is strength that can endure all things, peace that passes all understanding, a courageous heart that does not fear, and a source of active compassion that WILL NOT RUN DRY: then Jesus is who you’re looking for.