Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Train yourself..."

I ran it for Chelsea. It was, after all, her first marathon and my fourth. When the going got tough she would need me to reassure her that she could do it. Right??? 26.2 miles later, Chelsea was dragging my dehydrated and completely shattered body across the finish line. I learned hard lessons on Sunday. That 4 hours and 48 minutes was the most excruciating of my life.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I did not train very well for this marathon. Oh, I had plenty of excuses for that. I just moved. I don't have time. I don't know where the good trails are. It's too hot. It's too cold. The air is too thin. I'm tired of running! My joints hurt. On and on. I also had plenty of reasons why, regardless of my lack of preparedness, I would run splendidly on race day. It's all mental. I'm still in pretty good shape. I just ran a half marathon in a good time. I know what to expect now. I'm skinnier than last year. I eat the right foods. On and on. Anything to keep from admitting that I just had not put in enough training runs.

What I was lacking in actual preparedness I was certainly not lacking in confidence! Oh brother. At the starting line I felt great and breezed through the first couple of miles only concerned about pacing ourselves so we could pick up speed at the end of the race. Around mile 3 my stomach started letting me know that all was not well, and by mile 5 I was just plain miserable. Thus began the battle. I had never experienced this before! Where was the runner's high? The feel of floating along with the cheering of the crowds? Today the throngs of people on the sidewalks were just plain irritating. Why was I running and they were watching? Why, oh why, wasn't I with them instead of with the crazy runners? At mile 6 I told Chelsea the truth: I felt completely horrible and frankly there was no way in the world I was going to be able to finish that race! I told her to run ahead and she said no. I told her again to go and run her best, but again she said no. She said we would make it, one mile at a time. By mile 10 I was dry heaving on the side of the road as we ran. This continued for about two miles, with nothing to show for it. I had felt so sick the first few miles that I wasn't drinking very much at the water stations. By the half-way point the sun was baking us, the temperature was in the mid-80s, and I was in big trouble. I realized that I had stopped sweating and was starting to feel very dizzy. At the next water station I forced myself to drink water and Gatorade to avoid collapsing, but damage had already been done. I had to hold on to Chelsea at one point and she was consistently asking me questions. "Do you need to sit? How are you feeling? I don't want to have to find a stretcher for you!" Sometimes she just continued on in a determined silence. I knew she had made up her mind that she was not only going to get herself to the end, but she was bringing me with her. What selflessness! We passed a med tent and I looked longingly inside at the several runners getting iced and being treated for dehydration. It looked like heaven and I wanted to join them. "We're going to finish," Chelsea said. I wanted to ask how she was doing but I just didn't have it in me. All I had was the occasional moan and grunt of... "AH, HOT." What a day.

Crossing the finish line I didn't have tears to cry. But Chelsea put her arm around me, a huge smile on her face and said, "We did it." Not only had we done it, but we only finished 18 minutes slower than our goal time! Not too bad considering the conditions. I thanked her over and over again for staying with me, and promised her a faster marathon next year. I promised I would train hard for that one, and I will keep that promise as long as my body allows me to do so!

Looking back from where I sit now I can see God's hand everywhere. He used that miserable Sunday to teach me some valuable lessons. Marathons are not the only thing that require training.

"Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Sometimes I hit the streets in life like I hit the streets of Chicago. I haven't been training. I'm overconfident in my "spirituality" and think I can follow God with excellence, even when He is far from my first priority. But that is a deception of the mind which allows me to grow sluggish in my pursuit of Him. Godliness does not come easily, and drawing near to God absolutely must be a priority that I simply cannot afford to brush away. The results of training to be godly are too valuable to miss.

Another lesson. At times in the past several years when I have faced crises of life and of faith, I've needed "Chelseas" to drag me along even when I've felt defeated. Even when I've wanted to throw in the towel. Friends and family have faithfully stood by me and said, "You're going to make it. Look to Jesus. I'm right here with you." Again I find myself in awe of this deep love, shown to me by so many, and wanting desperately to be that voice of loving endurance for others. That is, after all, what following Jesus is all about: loving Him and loving others selflessly.

After 48 hours the many blisters on my toes are starting to heal and my legs are not quite as sore. Steve came to see me yesterday during my short layover in Denver (so sweet!) and I managed to run from my gate to where he was with no problem:). I also met his sister, Cathleen, this weekend! She met me for the World Vision banquet on Saturday night, and it was fantastic getting to know her a little bit. What a sweetheart! It was SO nice that Josh and Sarah drove down from North Dakota as well. The final blessing of Chicago was getting to see a dear college friend, Sarah Johnson, for several hours before going to the airport. She and her husband moved to Chicago not long before I moved to Africa and it has been well over two years since I saw them. What true gifts from the Lord they have been to me over the years! The whole weekend was a blast and will be remembered fondly...

...all except Sunday morning. But from it I have learned.


Jake said...

HEY!!!! LOOK at you! In Montana... nice! I like Montana...

I have to admit... as I am prepping for Prism this week... I could use a female vocal... you interested?

How are things? Thanks for the compliments to my family... what can I say... my kids are cute... that must come from Amy's side 'cause it isn't from me! :-)


i try to blog or post something every couple of days... right now I am re-posting some tools for some of the worship leaders I am working with at PRISM... :-)Gotta run!

blessings on your head!


stevie c said...

Yay, my favorite author is ha

Stevie C said...

Perhaps I should finish writing before I post it. I was just going to comment on how happy I was to see my favorite author writing again. Also, I really liked your last post and not just because you mentioned me in it (although that certainly didn't hurt). I'm so proud of the perseverance that you showed. I can't think of too many people that would have done the same. You continually challenge me to look for God's lessons in tough situations. You are amazing.

Stephen Becker said...

thanks for this post. i've just discovered the whole "blog's i'm following" thing, so hopefully now i'll be better at keeping up with everone's blogs. anyway, i really enjoyed this ginna.

Liesl Kruger said...

you've been tagged