Friday, January 6, 2012

Running, running, running

I don't make New Year's Resolutions. I don't hate them. They're just not my style. If I need to wait until the New Year to officially start something, then I probably should have already started it. And if I know there is an official start date and I'm particularly dreading the discipline that lies ahead, then I'm probably also self-destructing to the fullest possible extent until that deadline comes. You know how it goes. You say you're starting your diet on Monday and then proceed to shovel everything and anything, especially bad things, into your mouth until 11:59 Sunday night. The first day of the diet is no problem. Your body eats up all the french fries that are left in your system and the excitement of having a bikini bod keeps you from noticing the growing growl in your gut. Day 2 is okay, but by Day 3, the hunger is overwhelming. The miniscule portions of protein and tsunami-like intake of water just isn't cutting it anymore. Sure, you still have plenty of donuts stored in the recesses, but your brain doesn't remember. All it remembers is how delicious they tasted going down. So then you start to bargain with yourself and you know, deep in your heart, that it's over. Because once you start bargaining, it's over. You lost. And you didn't even diet enough to lose all of the pre-diet binge weight, so when you quit the blasted thing (you've found a better diet that you'll try next month), you're actually a few pounds heavier than you were before you even started. It's obviously a cruelly psychological and highly emotional nightmare for me and I fail. Every time. So, I've learned that I am better off setting my mind on a goal in the heat of the moment. I'm not sure whether I trick myself or my self tricks me in this clever game, but it really doesn't matter. I feel like I'm in charge of my decision to make a goal, I'm ready to start on it so I'm fired up and when I'm finally at the point where I want to see the goal completed, then I have no problem maintaining the discipline to follow through. 

And that's precisely where I find myself right now. Ready to run again. (It just happens to be timed up with New Year's resolutions). I miss long runs on the trail in the crisp winter air. An hour or two of running, spending time with my Lord--mostly praising him but sometimes pleading that I'll make it back home. This reminds me of a time when someone asked me whether running was a spiritual exercise for me and I replied "If you count the times I plead with the Lord to get me back home when I've gone out too far, then's quite spiritual." So, I've decided to sign up to run the St. Luke's Half Marathon in late April.

The last time I ran 13.1 miles, I was wishing that I had only run 13.1 miles. It will have been 5 years to the date of the St. Luke's Half and it was the day that I ran my first (and only, so far) marathon. I remember coming up to Mile 11, which was the split-off for those running the half marathon. As I trotted past that mile marker, I wondered whether I had made a very grave mistake. So many times, I considered jumping the course--it would have been so easy to just cross the flat, pathetic little median strip separating me at Mile 12 from those at Mile 18. No one would notice. But even if no one noticed, I could never cheat. I could never live with myself. So, I trudged onward. Slowly. Painfully. But steadily. And the pride and joy that overcame me when I crossed that finish line after running 26.2 miles was so worth the pain of every step and the nightmarish recovery that I would know intimately for the next week. So what if I had to pick up my legs in order to roll over in bed. I ran a marathon!

And so, I am once again ready for the feeling of accomplishment. For the exhilaration of running. For the added benefit of being fit and able to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. And for the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of creation that Jesus made just for me!

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