Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How the Marathon became more than just a race day event (Part 1 of 2)

Yes, this started out as something on my bucket list. Something, I wanted to accomplish and tackle and cross off that list. But, along the way it became so much more. As I found myself training, I also found myself growing deeper.

You see, I feel (and have talked to others that would agree) that marathon training has a lot of parallels to life, faith and relationships. What you are putting into it, you will also get out of it.

When training for a marathon, it becomes important to focus on what you are putting into your body, your training and your head. Your nutrition will either help or hurt your long mile days. Your training, if you do it diligently will pay off for you at race time. And it’s important to fill your head with ideas, hopes, desires that are pure and positive as those will carry you through the long miles.

The same holds true in everyday life. The food you put into your body affects your health and well being. The way you choose to live your life affects you and everyone around you, and what goes in that head effects how you live your life. It’s one big circle of sorts.

I went on this journey without someone who was going to race with me that day, which seemed silly and foreign to many. I got the “you mean you’re doing this alone? “  Yes, I was- well sort of. At the start, I had my wonderful son to guide me though the long training miles. It was pure joy when he would accompany me on his bike. You see, I love the close relationship that we share and this journey just enhanced that even more. 

My son made me laugh with the things he would say to get me to train harder. His motivational speeches were priceless. I still heard them in my head even when he wasn’t with me on the long sessions anymore. In fact, I can still hear him saying, Mom, just think there is a pack of hungry wolves behind you. Think about them closing in on you and know that all they eat is ladies. Hilarious! Then, there was the time he told me I should sprint the last ½ mile after we had already gone at least 3 miles longer than what I was supposed to go that day—which was out of pure mistake on my part. But, at that point, he saw no reason that I shouldn’t push myself harder. Really, he was right. Makes me smile and laugh every time I think about his motivation. Those days and miles are soaked in my heart forever.

My husband also supported me along this journey with encouraging words and patience as I took some time planning the long training. Even when I had to use a Saturday or two to do a long training session.

I had other family and friends that would not train for such a thing, to them I was nuts, but were a great support for me. I was given motivational pep talks, text messages, phone calls and emails.

Of course, I was never without the LORD. We never are in the things that we do. So, did I have to be the one to lace up my sneakers and hold myself accountable, yes? Was I really alone? No.

After my son was back in school, and I found that my training was no longer filled with our special time together. I missed him and his motivation. But, the training then became my time. My time to focus on my faith, my life and those around me and I found myself looking for ways that I could improve all of those things.  I found that extra time to take care of me rewarding-- even if it was beating my body with 20 miles of pavement.

You see, I am the type of person that strives to always do better; I am not a very complacent type of person. I want to be better, be stronger, and shine brighter. I don’t want to just do that in a race, but I want this in all aspects of my life.  That’s not something I learned through training, it is something that training reinforced.

Honestly marathon training didn’t lead me to any huge revelations. Instead, it allowed me time to clear my head, open my heart, and allow my mind to listen. Listen to what the Lord had in store for me. After all, 20 miles on a given training day, allows a long time of listening.

Another reinforcement that came was a reminder that HIS timing is always right. I truly feel that the marathon hit me at the right time. I had always wanted to do it when I was younger, but I feel that God worked it all out so it could hit my life at just the time I needed it to.

There were tough times in training that reinforced what I learned from labor and delivery—which was that my body was stronger than I give it credit for — that I am stronger than I give myself credit for.

I saw a shirt once that read:

At mile 20- I thought I was dead

At mile 22- I wished I was dead

At mile 24- I knew I was dead

At mile 26.2- I knew I had become too tough to kill.

 At mile 20, I didn’t think I was dead and at no point did I ever wish I was dead. Wishing I was at the finish line already--sure. Dead, no way, I was living a dream and cheering others on for their dream, goal, personal best, etc. It was magical, a painful type of magical.

Everything in life requires some type of dedication on our part. Your faith doesn’t grow deeper without putting the time in, your relationships don’t get better without putting time into them and your body won’t be stronger without taking care of it.  You have to make the choice to commit. Like I had said before there were no new revelations in training, just good reinforcement. Sometimes that is all we need is some good reinforcement.

So, the day of the race, what was it like? One word…Amazing. But, I am saving that story for another day- maybe tomorrow. :) As you've already read too much today and if you made it this far through my rambles, I am impressed!

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