Few times in life do you push your body to its limits. I’m not talking about just doing something that’s hard. I’m talking about pushing past the point that you think you’re even capable of and then pushing more. I can only think of a handful of times that I have done that. The delivery of each of my kids is what comes to mind first. I don’t think you can push your body much more than that. After that, it’s running. Specifically our half marathon last Sunday.
I knew immediately after the half in May that I needed to train hard and overcome the disappointment that I felt afterwards. I was not okay with living with that failure looming over me and I knew that wasn’t the plan God had for me either. So two days after that race, I started training for the next one. I pushed myself physically each run, but I was not even remotely prepared for the mental battle I would face.
Sometimes it was easy and I felt fierce, like I could conquer anything. Other days I felt defeated and just wanted to give up. I knew I needed to equip myself with a way to battle those moments I was down. Jeremiah 29:11 ran rampant in my mind throughout my training. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I knew that I had to trust those words. That God really did want me to prosper and that He would be faithful to help me do just that.
I don’t like to set goals. And when I do, I set easy goals that I know I will not fail at. It would have been easy for me to set a simple goal for this race. Like to “just finish” or 2:10-2:15. Those would be the normal goals I would set because I knew I would beat those, but I knew God was calling me to be honest about my goal. So when people asked what my goal for the race was, I was obedient to God and made myself vulnerable by saying that I wanted to be under 2 hours. I know to seasoned runners 2 hours is not a lofty goal, but that is a time that I knew would be hard for me to reach. Janae informed me today that I never actually told her what my goal was. Maybe I secretly didn’t tell her because I knew she would hold me to that. She knew without me having to tell her though.
A lot happened during our training for this race. It was already an important and intense training experience for me, but it was even more important after Janae’s dad was diagnosed. It became a sort of therapy for us. A time for us to talk and work through emotions. A time to get away from it all. And sometimes even a time to stop and cry. I hate to see her hurt and going through something so tough, but it was a special time for me to get to help her walk through a really tough time. It reminded me that running isn’t about the results of a race. It’s so much more.
God kept reinforcing to me that I was to trust Him with the results of this race. That He would take care of the weather and my health and all the things that are out of my control as long as I was obedient to Him.
The weather was perfect and I wasn’t sick, so God was already showing me His faithfulness. Now it was my turn. The beginning of the race went really well. I felt good and we kept up a really good pace. We stayed ahead of the 2 hour pace group almost the entire way. It was about mile 11 that things got rough. I started to crash and I couldn’t keep up the pace. I utilized every technique I could think of to get me through. Concentrate on making it to the next cone. Then make it the next three steps. Then just follow the person in front of me. Janae was again the perfect running partner. She gave me some space for a while. Jeremiah said he thought it was weird that she was running about 10 steps ahead of me for a while. Then she came back and pushed me to keep going. At one point she said, “If you don’t want to keep going, I understand, but I don’t want to hear “I can’t” because I know you can. Do you want to do this?” A few times I didn’t respond. I wanted to say no, but I didn’t want to admit defeat. But then I just could not keep going, so I finally said I was done. I don’t think I actually said that. I think I may have just nodded that I didn’t want to do it. But I kept going and she kept pushing. “I know you can do this.” “You can’t give up now.” “We’re almost there.” And even when the 2 hour pace group went by us and I thought I had missed my goal, she kept encouraging me. (She told me later that she thought we missed it too.) And she pushed me to go faster and I did. Even though there was nothing left in me. That’s how I know God was faithful here too. Because I had given up. I didn’t have anymore to give. And yet my legs kept moving. And even when I thought I was defeated, the time was under 2 hours when we crossed that finish line.
So even though I felt like throwing up right after we finished. And even though I almost fainted as we went through the post-finish area and ended up in the medical tent. It was all worth it! The amount of satisfaction that comes with training that long for something and coming out on top. It’s priceless.
Janae kept apologizing for being obnoxious during the race. She said she was so obnoxious it was getting to her. And that if she was me she probably would have wanted to punch her. I joked that if I had had the strength, I probably would have. But really. I can’t thank her enough for being the encouragement I needed at just the right time. For not letting me give up on myself when, really, I already had. And for helping me reach the goal that I never even told her I wanted to reach, but she just knew.
This medal, even though it’s the same thing I got at the three races before, means so much to me. I want to wear it everywhere I go and display it forever in my house. It’s a symbol of a struggle that God was faithful to get me through. A way to remember that we need to be obedient to God and let Him take care of the rest. And that great friends will push you even when it’s tough, but they’ll be right along side you the whole way.