Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Runiversary--a reflection on how running has changed me

This month marks my 5 year RUNNIVERSARY! I realize to some--you may be rolling your eyes--this doesn't seem like a big deal. To me this is something enormous to celebrate. I will probably even buy myself a new pair of shoes. This is an obscenely long narrative about running. I know. I haven't blogged in forever and I pick running. But I have things to say and things to process and I wont let this part of my life go undocumented.

Five years ago this August I was in the throws of postpartum depression. I had a beautiful, but cranky baby and a demanding 18 month old. Having two under two was way harder than I imagined. I was one moment short of taking the crazy train with no return trip. It was ugly. In an effort to help my brain and my heart and potentially save me from that dark pit, I knew I had to do something. On a budget, short on time and sleep and with the temperature soaring well over 100* I did the only logical thing, I started running.  The first years of running my thighs created so much friction they could start a fire, (the thigh gap has never happened for me people). My gut giggled so severely that I was sure the people down the street could feel the sonic boom (because of course everyone was looking at me while I ran in my neighborhood, at night). And I was breathing so loud that I could hear myself over the passing cars...oh it was awful. But so good. I would run for a time and would call Owen from my phone and he would say, "Judah is still crying. Keep running". In desperation to not hear him wailing, I would. Somehow in the midst of the great effort I was making to run, something changed in my mind. The crazy train station seemed farther away and the track to logic and loving my family seemed much closer.
There's me...trying to avoid the crazy train. August 2009
Don't get me wrong here, it's not like I went out and ran for an hour. I was gone for maybe 20 minutes...and I ran maybe one mile. I would walk sometimes. I ran slow (for fear of fire remember) but I kept going. Every other day or so I would go on a run. Each time it got easier and well, not easier, but I didn't think I would die. And one day I realized that I actually enjoyed running. Not the physical discomfort of running...but the clearing of the mind that happens...so much time to talk with the Lord about how I was feeling. Listening to His truth through music while running. I loved the determination that it created in my mind & body. If there was a point that I always felt tired, I would be determined to push through and not give up....I ran with a group of ladies from church occasionally and a couple of really close girlfriends (there are only a few gals I'd let see the sonic boom). I even ran around the Tempe Beach Park which had always been a secret goal of mine.

Then one day by God's great design I met a great gal named Grace (oh how I miss you so much Grace!) who said that she was thinking of training for a half marathon. I had been running for 2 years (even through half of Wesley's pregnancy) and I was secretly hoping to be able to do something bigger like this! We committed. We trained. We sweated and talked, and bonded. We shared the Lord, we shared our spiritual growth and struggles and we crossed the finish line! What an amazing experience. To try and explain what running 210 training miles with someone does for a friendship is beyond me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Grace!

Ran on the beach at Top sail Island and met the family on the pier.
It would be a major mistake for me not to mention Owen in this...he is the reason I can run. He puts my runs on his calendar...because he loves me. He wants me to run, and even when I am ehem, not being myself Owen gently suggests that I go on a run. Who does that? Having his support so in this particular area means the world to me--and I am pretty awesome, but I can no longer push my children in the bob and run. They weigh too much. He watches them for me every time I go. No gym membership here, just a marriage membership for life.

2 years ago I trained for a local half marathon by myself and I thought I would never be able to do it alone. I did. Running continues to teach me that I can do more than I thought I could.I can honestly say I LOVED training for this particular half marathon. For some reason too, I feel it spreads more discipline to other areas of my life. One specific way is through reading THE WORD. Although I have been a Christian since I was little, I have ebbed and flowed significantly in the area of Bible reading. Sometimes going for years on end without consistent (or any) time in THE WORD. Something clicked for me after I started running--I am compelled to do this. Granted, I have asked that the Lord specifically light a fire in my heart, a need & passion for Bible reading, and He is so faithful. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that running makes me read the Bible...hahaha.  I think that the discipline of running has made me desire discipline in other areas of my life because the result has been so rewarding. 

Last year I trained for another half marathon by myself too...this year was so difficult. More than I could ever say. We had a new house, a new baby, and a family member in major crisis. I barely made it through any of the training runs. Each time I dreaded my run. I felt guilty for the time it took away from the family. I felt sore. I felt mentally absent from the focus my body needed. Significant stress is a major downer on any physical work out...but--physical work outs put stress into major submission. Even though I did not want to or feel like running, I committed (translate, I already paid for this race long before I knew life would be as challenging as it was--I am the cheapest person you will ever meet and I'll run myself into the ground before I pay for something and not get the benefit out of it!)--and I did it. I did the training runs. I ran the race. I improved my time. I finished.
Just before the Half Marathon in 2014. So nervous but
Happy to have my special girl.  And  yes, I wore makeup

This year I look forward to training with my mind in the game so to speak. I am going to do the half marathon in January again and am hoping to get under 2 hours---I was at 2:01 last year. UGH! I would encourage you--especially if you are a mama to young ones to find that one thing that is for you, but also translates into the other areas of your life. For me running has been the ticket.

On the strictly vain physical side, running has its benefits too. I'll be honest, I have been running for 5 years and I am just now getting to where I want to be with my physical appearance--It's worth it. Last year as I was going to the marathon expo, I was pushing our double bob stroller and someone said, "You look like a runner, do you know where the expo is?" After my jaw fell to the floor and I threw my arms around this perfect stranger and swore my love to her for this fantastic compliment, I said, "follow me."

Happy Runniversary to me!

If you run and don't have a GPS watch, you need one.

The best place after a race, leaning on a pile of ice. 


lindsay said...

What a great reflection Emily! I have such fond memories of running with you in those early years and am so proud of what you have accomplished!

Tamara @ The Workout Mama said...

This was so awesome to read! Thanks for sharing!