Run Dump!

I’m just gonna puke it all up here.

May be an image of activewear and text

If you zoom in, you can see my little “Suffering Christ” pins I bought to hold the bib on. To Him be all the glory and praise! I know I talk up the Meat Life, but it’s only Jesus that makes me even want to live.


So, I did a thing. And now I’m sitting here, just smiling. And smiling is what I’ve been doing for days in the run up to this…er…this run. I have been so over-the-moon happy to be doing this!

I am having a hard time nailing down why it is that the mere idea of running a race–one which I never had a hope of winning or placing–makes me so happy. For days, I’ve been falling asleep with a smile on my face, thinking “I get to run! I get to race!”

Then last night…well, no smiling happened last night. Instead, I just lay there trying to sleep. You know how it is: when you know you need your rest, it’s really hard to fall asleep. You don’t smile when you’re trying as hard as you can to shut down your excitement and go to sleep. I expect the next race I enter to affect me a little less this way.

Anyhow, I woke up, packed a breakfast for the family to eat while they waited for me at the finish line, and went and ran this thing:

On about 3 hours of sleep. And a weak left ankle. I’m not making excuses. Just telling the sad truth. I was not really in the best shape for this race because of these two things. But I was mentally into it, so I did it anyway. All things considered, my expectation to cross the finish line in an hour and twenty minutes (remember when I said I was slow?) was not too far off the mark. Taking it easy so as not to blow out my Achilles tendon, which I’m working on strengthening, I did it in 1:23! Woot! My average pace was an unimpressive 12 minutes per mile.

I finished ahead of only (I think) five other runners. Almost everybody, even the old people, came in ahead of me. I “lost”. By a LOT. I’m still happy.

And it’s because I’m so grateful. Six years ago (actually, my calendar tells me it was more like seven now), I could not breathe because of asthma. I could not run because I was fat and my right knee hurt all the time. Even if I could have run, I’d have had so much social anxiety that I’d have never considered going out in front of God and everybody and making an absolute fool of myself. But the biggest smiles I’ve smiled when anticipating this race have been the ones where I knew I was going to make a fool of myself. Because it doesn’t matter! I’m a fool? The world needs fools, too!

I had fun. I did something hard. I beat me. I beat Ten Years Ago Me. I even beat Last Week Me:

All personal bests!

Now, nobody is going to look at that and say “Wow! What a natural talent!” Really, I’m 4’11”. I’m not ever going to outpace people with actual legs. But I got faster today. And I’ll get still faster tomorrow. And eventually those numbers might start to look respectable. Maybe. If they don’t? Who cares?

What’s respectable about all this is not the numbers, but how far I’ve come. I’ve worked to be able to do this. I’ve sat at the dinner table with people eating “normal” food and cried because I knew I was never going to enjoy pizza again. I’d love to be able to say it was a tear of joy running down my cheek because I was so glad to be rid of all my health problems, but it wasn’t. I was just sad not to eat pizza anymore. (There are carnivore-keto ways to simulate pizza, by the way. But they don’t agree with my system very well, so I don’t eat them.)

I’ve been lifting weights, rowing, and running for a few years now.

I’ve done the hard work of getting myself to enjoy human contact, after living most of my adult life in abject dread of social interactions. I’m not going to try to make it sound like it was worse than it was. I was able to get the kids to church and playdates and basically live a normal life. But it was miserable. I cried–or cringed–myself to sleep frequently. Social anxiety sucks! But I beat it.

I deserve the respect I have for myself right now. 

As the last two runners came in at the 1:43 mark, I cheered for them as hard as I could. I was as proud of them as I was of the guy who finished in FORTY-FOUR minutes! Maybe those slow finishes don’t mean much to a “real runner”, but we have no idea what they may have overcome to be able to get to that finish line.

They didn’t lose. They just won last. 




I get a charge out of you!

I took what was likely my last run before the big run this morning. Maybe I’ll squeeze in another little one Thursday, just for fun. Sunday afternoon I’d had to cut a run short because my Achilles tendon was acting up. I requested prayer from friends and family, rested another day, and woke up thinking I’d like to test that heel. Everything was fine today! No pain. I’m ready for the event!

And I had an audience, waaaaaaayyyyy up in the sky! (Sorry about the grainy picture. I was running. Didn’t really have time for a good zoom.) That was neat.

I smiled and waved, just on the off chance he could see me from up there. Then I looked down at my Garmin and noticed, not for the first time, that after smiling and waving at somebody, I was running faster. A lot faster! And I felt great!

There’s some kind of energy being exchanged here.

It’s odd, but when I’m running alone, after an initial burst, I can urge myself on to a hard pace only with great mental effort. I lose steam quickly, and just have to grind it out. But as soon as somebody says “You go!”, or “Get it, girl!”, or just smiles and makes me feel like I’m among friends, I’m flying effortlessly! Running is suddenly easy. It feels good.

Now, I love a long, slow run all by myself. It blows the cobwebs out of my head and gives me time to pray and plan and write blogs posts in my head.

I love a good fast run by myself, too. It takes a different mindset to get yourself to go faster and harder when nobody cares, nobody’s keeping a timer on you, and you’re only doing it to see what you’re capable of. It’s probably good for the soul in some way, to put yourself through that kind of torment. I hope so, anyway.

I also really love sprint/walk workouts, where I push as hard and fast as I can for 20 or 30 seconds, and then walk to recover, over and over again until I just can’t do it anymore. Uphill, downhill, flat, doesn’t matter. It’s just a wonderful way to wear yourself out and build cardiovascular strength.

And now, here’s this whole other kind of run that I hadn’t noticed I was doing, but is really my favorite: the one where people are smiling and waving and somehow throwing their energy my way. I always thought I was pretty introverted, but the older I get, the more of a charge I get out of other people. Maybe I’m becoming some kind of long distance extrovert! No need to talk to me, just smile and wave as I run away! I get a real, measurable charge out of that kind of interaction.

I hope this same magic follows me to The Cub on Saturday. I’d be shocked, honestly, if I do this thing in an hour and twenty minutes. That’s my wildest dream. I’m not fast, ok? But if the spectator spell I’m noticing works consistently, and it’s not just a temporary boost that wears off like most placebos, I might be able to shave another ten minutes off that! It’s that big of a difference that I’m getting!

(While I’m talking about time-shaving, I might as well mention that I’m hoping to rub 5 more minutes off of my 5k time by the end of the summer. I think I can do it. I’m finding that I do a lot better when I have a firm goal, rather than just “let’s go out and see what we can do today”.)

You really don’t know what you can do until you have to do it.

In fact, before I signed up for Saturday’s race, my longest run had been, I guess, about four and half miles. Once I knew there was a 7-miler in my future, I started going both longer and faster.

Because I knew I was going to have to, I not only did it, but I did it well: doubled distance and faster pace.

If you’re struggling to get better at something, I highly recommend making it official by joining a competition! Or a class. Or go get your neighbor and see if she wants to join you. Make sure that the thing you’re doing “just for yourself” is social enough to keep you on your toes.

You will stagnate on your own.

When others are involved, whether as spectators or competitors or companions, you will find that you have vast reserves of ability and motivation that you didn’t care enough to search out before. This is not an extrovert thing. It’s not a pathetic sheeple thing. It’s a human being thing. We thrive on each other’s encouragement. This applies to all areas of life. If you’re not into sports, but (let’s just say) music or acting, find a group to play with, or a bunch of other newbies to jam with. Or maybe you want to learn a language or a new skill. You can do all that online by yourself, sure!

But it’s not usually getting you anywhere if you’re doing it all alone. You might have this super-secret ability to speak German really fluently, but who are you speaking it to? Find people!

And since I almost always find myself bringing it back around to Jesus (because of course it’s all about Jesus!), this is why we need church, too. I know a lot of people who name the name of Christ, but stay away from church for whatever reason; this hypocrisy, or that doctrinal disagreement, or that way of doing the budget. It doesn’t matter. There’s always some reason to avoid church, if you really want to dig one up.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.–John 13:35

You can’t love people you won’t even go around. You are meant to bless and encourage other Christians, and they are meant to bless and encourage you. You have to show up for it, no matter how hard it is to swallow your differences, or get up that early on the one day you have off work, or you will never know what you are capable of as a follower of Christ. You could be moving mountains, but you’re struggling to even move yourself.

Get out there. Whatever it is you’re doing, get among people from time to time. You think you don’t need them? Fine. What if they need you? Just go!



Do I Have the Guts?

To run this 7-mile race?

I’ve been running between five and fifteen kilometers a week for about three years now. I never really think of myself as a runner, since I only do it because I enjoy that freedom of movement and that much-vaunted runner’s high. But a young girl asked me the other day, while we were talking about some stuff “You’re a runner, aren’t you?”

And you know what? I realized that I kinda am. I don’t just run. I am a runner. I wouldn’t give it up for love or money at this point.

So, why don’t I raise the stakes a little?

I’m about to enter my first race. It would be, like every run I take, a race against myself. I have no expectation of beating any other human. I don’t wonder so much if I can finish it, or how fast–I think I can predict these things–but whether I have the guts to let other people see me possibly fail. Or wear the “wrong” socks. Or look all red in the face and frazzled at the end. And, most likely, “lose”. Even though, for me, just to show up would be a win.

To be honest, my times are abysmal. I’m nowhere near what I wish I was. Seven miles is about twice my usual run, which is habitually 5-6k. That’s all I have time for most days. The top females my age last year did it in about an hour, and I’m pretty sure I can do close to that, anyway.

I’ve never competed, except with myself. I don’t do things for spectators. Is my social phobia so deeply buried (carnivore did that) that I will actually make it out on the big day? And actually do it? Just showing up would be a win.

I’ll let you know if I’m a winner or a loser when the day comes. I just hit “submit registration”.