Category Archives: Running

Throwback Thursday: A simple plan for your worst! race! ever! (I do dumb things.)

I recently began training for my second marathon, and I’m pretty pumped about it. While there’s much to do in preparation, I can largely capture what NOT to do in this little post from last year.

Happy Throwback Thursday, people. Enjoy the laughs.

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.

Throwback Thursday: Comparison is a B*tch

In honor of our neighborhood pool opening this weekend, I am reading (preaching) this post to myself over and over. And over. And. Over.

Originally published March 26, 2014.

We talk a lot about comparing ourselves with others. But what about when I compare myself to... myself? I used to look like… I used to be able to… This is a must-read-NOW for any woman in any season of life.

I reallyreallyreally tried to make myself title this, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Why? Because it’s true and I love that quote. (Thank you, Mr. Roosevelt.)

But unfortunately, that sounds way holier than how I feel about it today.

We talk a lot about comparing ourselves to others. But what about when I compare myself to MYSELF? I used to look like… I used to be able to… This is a must-read-NOW for any woman in any season of life.Yes, comparison IS the thief of joy. And because she steals my joy (and yours), she is also a bitch. And I’m fed up.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve managed to run several times and even endured some excruciating classes at the Y. This is great improvement over the weeks (months!) prior – and still, I feel dissatisfied.

After a brutal 4-miler Monday, I complained to my friend Amy, “I am so out of shape.” Her response: “Out of marathon shape? Or out of shape? Because those are two very different things.”

Hm. Good point. So good that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The truth is, I’ve been beating myself up because “I’m in horrible shape” – in horrible shape compared to myself last August, when I ran a marathon. But, if I stop comparing myself to what I could do at the peak of marathon training, and look at myself in light of where I am right now, maybe I could stop feeling like a complete failure.

I could probably write for days about comparing myself with others. But what about comparing myself to… myself? Myself in another age or season of life? The most obvious may be comparing my 35-year-old body to my 17-year-old body. That’s so unfair. I used to look like… I used to be able to…

Maybe it’s comparing my current spiritual life to that one year in college when I went on two mission trips & spent 3 hours a day reading and journaling. Never mind that I didn’t have anyone to take care of except myself. I used to I used to I used to…

My pastor has often said, “We struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” This is so true – and I would venture to add that I struggle with defeat because I compare my current behind-the-scenes with my own highlight reel.

It’s defeating because, “I did XYZ then; what’s wrong with me now?” But that doesn’t take everything into account, does it? I selectively choose the highlights from past seasons of life, and rather than just recalling them as fond memories, I idolize them as a standard I may not be able or even supposed to grasp in this season.

If I keep succumbing to the “grass is greener” syndrome, I’m going to wish away my current season – the NOW ME – perpetually discontent, as my present reality never measures up to the highlights of my past. The THEN ME had problems of her own. She would punch me in the face if she knew I was holding her up as the standard for myself now.

I’m tired of being so mean to myself. I’m tired of not measuring up. If I choose to run, let it be because I love to run, not because I’m chasing something I had before. When I pursue fitness, spiritual disciplines, whatever – let it be because it’s good for me now, not because I’m striving for a past idealized version of myself.

What am I doing today? What is the best version of me TODAY?

What is it for you?

To run with patience.

Is there a phrase or a Bible verse you’ve heard so many times you go on auto-pilot when you hear it repeated?

As a runner, I’ve long had a bit of Scripture tucked away with special affection: let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us...  I grasp for it when I push for the finish line in an actual race or need a swell of courage in the face of adversity.

That being said, I haven’t felt pressed to call upon “perseverance” lately. Perseverance calls to mind overcoming something difficult or momentous — a fight or a battle. But I haven’t felt like the world is coming against me. I don’t feel like I have a big finish line on the near horizon.

I’m just kind of… in the middle.

And then I saw it. The same familiar verse, translated nearly identically, but one word jumped off the page and shoved me right out of auto-pilot:

“And let us run with PATIENCE the race that is set before us…” (Heb 12:1, KJV)

Life doesn't always feel momentous. Sometimes you're just... in the middle. Here are 3 important keys to living well on the long road.

Patience.

It’s not so different from perseverance, really. But the word stirs something different in me. Patience calls to mind the miles nobody asks about. The middle 15 of the marathon. The flat road that isn’t necessarily hard but it’s there, and it’s just kind of… in the middle.

Sometimes the Lord gives me a “theme word” for a season of my life. Last year, hands down, the word was courage. So far this year, it looks like PATIENCE may be the word. (Gulp.)

What does it mean to run with patience?

Well, to run WITHOUT patience means two things. Either:

1. You speed up because you’re excited or nervous, and you blow up your pace, compromising your ability to make it up the next hill, let alone to the finish line.

2. You drop out because you’re bored or distracted, and you can’t really remember why you ever thought this was important to begin with.

So, how do we run with patience and avoid blowing up or dropping out?

We must:

1. Embrace the process.  Whatever you’re doing, there’s always going to be a “middle” in there somewhere. And if you’re staring down at your feet, or just an arms-length ahead, the middle can look pointless, confusing, or just plain boring. Keep your head up — looking around and ahead doesn’t have to be a sign of distraction. It can be an act of gratitude. The Bible says to fix our eyes on Jesus. Where do you see Jesus?

2. Identify priorities. The “middle” is an easy place to check out and just go through the motions — and some important things can be missed. It’s crucial to fuel well during this time — if you wait until you’re thirsty or woozy from dehydration, you’ve waited too long to fuel. What re-fueling stations do you need in place to keep you on pace for the long haul?

3. Silence perfectionism. “I’m not going to do it unless I can do it right.” This sounds like a solid mantra – until it paralyzes you in perfectionism and procrastination. There are some things you’d love to do, but perhaps you can’t do them “all the way” in this season of life. Stop crippling yourself with a misguided assessment of what matters and what doesn’t. Instead of shelving your dreams until you can pursue them “all the way,” declare this your training ground. How can you log miles in this season?

Let’s encourage one another to run with patience – and live well on the long road. Share your thoughts in the comments!