“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” I Corinthians 9:24
Well, it’s over. The thing I’ve been working toward all year, first by walking, then by walking some more, then by walking on the treadmill, then by running through one song on the treadmill, and so on and so on until I could finally run outside, is over. My goal back at the beginning of all this in September was to run a whole 5K. It wasn’t pretty, but by God’s grace, wearing my Fitbit, and with lots of encouragement from friends and family, I did it. I learned a lot!
First, here’s some information about the race itself. It took me just over 40 minutes to complete the race, but I didn’t walk at all, not one step. (This was highly in doubt just about a quarter of the way into the race. I really didn’t think I’d do it.) My pace was under 13 minutes per mile and I finished ninth out of 21 women who ran in my age group. I’ve decided to be happy with that. My daughter stayed with me the entire time which killed her time entirely. I appreciate her sacrifice. She is simply amazing.
On to what I’ve learned.
1) I learned that it’s a whole lot more difficult to go up a gradual incline for a mile and a half than to do shorter, bigger hills with a flat or even a downhill to follow. Up and down provides work and rest at better intervals. This was tough.
2) It is really different to run with people rather than by one’s self at 5am. Since I’m an introvert, being with people stresses me and elevates my heart rate, but running alone calms me down. I didn’t plan for that.
3) Running after I’ve been up for a couple of hours, and after eating breakfast, is different from popping out of bed into running gear and getting out on the road on an empty stomach. I had too much time to think and I got a pain in my side for the first time all year. I had no idea what this would be like, but now I know. I need to put some runs like this into my training.
4) People at races are very nice.
5) I am stubborn. It would be lovely to think of this character trait as “determination,” but that wouldn’t really be honest. I’m simply hard-headed. I was really having a difficult time as I rounded the cone at the end of the first half. I wanted to give up and walk. My German stubborn streak simply said, “No. This is what you said you would do, and you will do it. Period. End of discussion.” This one turned out okay, but it may be that someday my stubborn streak will kill me.
6) Prayer is stronger than music. After we rounded the cone and I managed to get a mouthful of water In me and a lot more ON me, the race was noticeably easier. Now it was a slight downhill. Still, I was exhausted from the trip up. I kept playing my inspiring songs over and over, but mostly I prayed. He answered. I need to pray more on my daily runs. Running takes me out of myself and out of my own strength. Running makes prayer raw and real. That was a good lesson.
7) Keep your eye on the prize, but don’t rush the pace. This one was kind of an epiphany. Pretty early in the second half I noticed that I could see the finish line. It was REALLY tempting to start running faster, to try to get it over with. I knew, though, that if I did that I would not make it. I had to keep a steady pace. These are the thoughts that went through my head as I approached the finish: Seven years ago, June 8, 2007, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. That brought the finish line into focus for me in a way that nothing else could have done. Since then, I’ve been aware that the finish line is out there. I wasn’t even really aware of it before because it always seemed to be around a corner, or over a hill. Now, it’s there. I can see it down the road. My stubborn tendency is to run all out toward the finish. I have book reading goals and professional goals, and personal goals and relational goals and now fitness goals, and I am very thankful for the fact that cancer made me focus. However, I also have a tendency to think that more is better and that faster is more efficient. It’s not. This was a really hard year. If I’m going to finish the course strong, I have to pace myself. My goals have to be reachable, realistic and marked by the Father’s stamp of approval.
So, I reached my original goal. I ran a 5K. I did NOT do it in under 40 minutes, but maybe I will next time. A wonderful friend, whose running all year has inspired me, and some of my family came to cheer me on. Many people were praying for me. I am so blessed!
As we rode the shuttle bus back to the car, my four-year-old grandson turned around in his seat and looked at me. “Marmee,” he said, “You TOTALLY won that race!” What a precious affirmation, and a reminder of the words I hope to hear someday from the Father, “Well done.” I want to be able to say with Paul, “…I have finished the course, I have kept the faith, in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness…” II Tim. 4:7 So, steady on. Jesus, please set the pace!