Monthly Archives: May 2014

Running Reflections Part 2: The Marathon

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

Folks have asked how the race went, and with so many people praying for me and encouraging me, I thought I’d share some reflections about the race itself.

I picked up my race packet the day before, and my husband asked why I was shaking – was I freezing or was I nervous? The honest answer was that I was a little chilly and a lot nervous! I hadn’t slept well at all the night before, telling myself that it was the most important night sleep and I was missing it!

10329307_10152516165998755_5242211062645353461_nBut, I was trying to relax. I had finished the training plan. I had read up and followed suggestions for nutrition. I had carb-loaded like it was my job and drank like I was a camel headed for the dessert. My friend running it said that she felt like she was pregnant with a little “carb baby” and my tummy felt the same way. I could physically see the difference of the weight I had put on.

More importantly, I had asked people to pray for me. Every single mile was covered by at least one person. Several other people promised to pray in general for the race. One friend sent me some excerpts from Psalm 18:

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
      my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge…
For by you I can run against a troop,
      and by my God I can leap over a wall.
For who is God, but the LORD?
      And who is a rock, except our God?–
the God who equipped me with strength
      and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
      and set me secure on the heights.
You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
      and my feet did not slip.
For you equipped me with strength for the battle…
For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations,
      and sing to your name.

While I wasn’t sleeping well (and I obviously was shaking on the outside), I was honestly feeling a deep sense of peace. I knew on my own I couldn’t do it, but I felt that God was with me. And if He is, what else did I truly need?

I loved all the messages from friends and words of encouragement. The morning of the race, I woke up at 3 am. My amazing husband woke up at the same time and got a shower. He’s NOT a morning person but stuck by my side the entire race, even wearing this shirt.

IMG_1516Reading my Bible that morning like I do each day, my devotions included the following verse: 1 Chronicles28:20a “Then David continued, ‘Be strong and courageous and DO THE WORK. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you…'” (emphasis mine). I felt like God was saying He’d be with me, don’t be intimidated by the distance, but work hard!

I decided to forgo the original outfit I bought for the race because the cute running skirt could cause potential chaffing issues. Instead I went with a pair of running capris that were called “Race With Grace Crops” and thought the name was probably appropriate. I had bought the shirt I wore a couple weeks before because it was 50% off and then there was a mark on it (which came out in the wash) so it was an additional 50% the sale price. In other words, it was so cheap I simply couldn’t pass it up. I thought it was meant to be! I realized that I couldn’t let my pride in desiring to look good get in the way of finishing the task set before me. This was another way that I felt God was telling me to let go of any pride I had. This run was for HIS glory alone!

MeAnd one of the main prayer requests I had asked people to cover was my need to “go” during a run. In shorter runs, this can be a helpful part of running for me. In long runs, I can get the runs, unfortunately. (TMI? Simply skip this paragraph then…) I was so afraid that I’d spend the entire race in the bathroom and miss the friend that I was running with. I asked everyone I knew to pray for it (much to my husband’s dismay). But, I needed it! Again, it wasn’t about my pride, it was about God’s glory. And may I give a huge shout out to God that this wasn’t an issue at all? I didn’t hit a single porta potty on the race course, which is a MIRACLE!

I was literally shocked to see my friend Rebecca and her Mom at the race before we lined up at 5:30 am. Literally, the sun hadn’t even risen and they were there to encourage and support me. I was blown away!

Rebecca Me

I was grateful to see my friend Crissy there, ready to race. I was so glad to have a friend to start with! She’s able to chat as we go and make the time go by quickly. Since we hadn’t gotten a picture of us earlier, we took the time to get one at the line up. Her cousin Amy and her Uncle Rich were there to support her as well. We were blessed with family and friends cheering us on even from the start!

Crissy MeThe gun went off and I was feeling great! We didn’t shoot out too quickly and we weren’t behind anyone too slow. Our pace was nearly perfect for what we had trained for.

Running 2I saw my husband very early on in the course and gave him a shout out. Several runners around me commented on his shirt and how cute it was or how blessed I was to have him. Indeed! I had given him spare water bottles and we had mapped out the course of where I’d trade my empty water for his full ones. He also saw me several points along the course and I would smile and wave. It was great!

Running 4Crissy and I chatted as we went, and I was really enjoying the first several miles. I fueled every 3-4 miles and tried to drink some water at those points as well. I was more used to my own bottles from training, so I opted to stick with them rather than the water station cups. But, we thanked the volunteers. We waved to the crowd. We were enjoying a nice long run together, we told each other. And it was great that so many people could be there with us! 🙂 🙂 🙂 I remember the first time seeing Rebecca and her Mom, and they were holding up a beautifully made sign with my name on it. It was GREAT! I smiled and cheered!!!

Running 2BUnfortunately around the 10th mile, I noticed that my hamstrings were ungodly tight. They had been tight the entire time, actually, but I noticed the actual pain from them at that point. I reminded myself that I hold tension in my back and lower legs when I’m nervous, so I told myself that this really wasn’t a big deal. Let it go – try to relax and enjoy the run! About two miles later, I realized that my hamstrings weren’t really working very well. It’s like they got tired and shut down. I can’t really explain it, but I definitely felt it. [On a side note, my massage therapist said that this is exactly what happens at times – muscle groups will simply stop working from fatigue. I hadn’t slept well and my body was tired!] I could no longer keep the pace – and this was a very comfortable and normal pace for us! We still hit the half way point of the race at two hours, right where we wanted to be. We didn’t want to shoot off too quickly and flounder in the last half and we didn’t want to start the first half too slow. We were doing exactly what we had planned.

Running 3The only problem was that my body wasn’t responding to our plan. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run more than 10 miles and been absolutely fine. On our 16-mile run, I felt like I could totally keep going. On our 20-mile run, I felt great! Why was my body feeling so awful on this one? I reminded myself that running is one of those sports that every day can be a little different. Some days are great, some aren’t so great. I was so thrilled that my belly wasn’t bothering me!!! But, I had never even thought to pray for my muscles because I had never had these issues previously! Unfortunately, I could tell I was slowing my friend down. She’d run ahead for a while and then stop to walk and stretch and wait for me to catch up. I threw my headphones on, knowing that she was there to race and get her best time. I didn’t want her to stay behind with me. I wanted her to press on and reach her goal.

SIGN 1 LMRTTThis is where I’ll interject that God knows what we need and when we’ll need it long before we do! A group of moms that are part of a running “club” (for lack of a better word) came to support those of us running in this marathon. One of those moms, Jen, had even agreed to pray for two miles of my marathon and also gave me tips from when she ran her first last year. She was at one of the spectator viewing points right when I felt like I could already collapse from pain. It was mile 16 and my legs were SO tight. I was also feeling the salt on my skin and felt like even the water and fuel I was taking wasn’t touching my energy level. I had seen Shawn, who jumped in to run with me a few yards and I told him to go back to the car and get me pretzels ASAP! But, as I continued on around the corner there was a beautiful sign with my name on it, along with a group of Moms ready to go with all sorts of stuff for us runners. Jen asked what I needed and I said, “Pretzels!” which Becky handed to me. (So funny that these two gals are named what my older sisters are!) I also looked at them and confessed that I was sore all over. Jen jogged with me and started to pray right then and there as were running and I was choking down some pretzels. I don’t remember what she prayed, but I know I felt so much better having her there for a few minutes. She saw another mom coming the other way – still heading toward the turnaround – and ran back with her. I love this group of moms! I had already high-fived or shouted out to the other running mamas we had passed as we were heading back and they were heading up. This is such a group of inspiring women! It was great that we could all be there together! And I loved the signs that they made for us (a picture of mine is coming up…)

Christine Me RUNNINGMy best friend (since second grade!) had offered to come and be a support that day. Her older sister had just completed her first marathon the month before and had called and encouraged me to do my best and also offered to jump in for a few miles. I asked her to come for miles 17-21 for two reasons. The first was that I feared I might spend too much time in the bathroom and lose my friend Crissy. The second was that I had asked another friend to run with me from mile 21 to the end of the race. I thought if I had small segments, it wouldn’t be such an overwhelming task for anyone to jump in and run a couple miles. God knew I’d need help at mile 17! By the time I hit there, I was ready to quit. Honestly, I had never experienced pain shooting all around my body like I felt then. As much as I’ve run, I’ve NEVER experienced anything quite this awful. Sure, my Achilles has been aching almost constantly. Yes, my feet have been blistered and my toe nails have come off. Yes, I’ve had minor aches and pains. But, this was INTENSE!!!10383015_10203994005400853_3066668597426953483_nMile 17 was one of my favorite miles, though, because while my friend Crissy was long gone (which I was so glad for – I felt bad for the time I had already cost her in this race!), I saw all my supporters together in the same place. (Suzanne took the picture above, and I look a little like death, but trust me when I say that I felt worse!) Rebecca and her Mom were both there with their sign, I saw my Dad at this point for the first time, Suzanne had her youngest daughter Emily strapped to her and held up her sign, Shawn was there, and Christine was there to run with me, etc. I gave them each a high five – realizing that my time was already shot, I might as well take in the moment!

I was more than upset with myself that I couldn’t get my pace back up to where it should be. First, when I run slower, I feel it’s harder on my joints. Second, I knew that I would be done faster (and back home, where I wanted to be!) if I could just get done and get off the course. But, as much as I mentally wanted to go faster, my hamstrings wouldn’t move and my quads that had taken over weren’t really up for the task. In fact, right around mile 18 my left quad got so tight I cried out in pain. It continues to be the most painful part of my body even days later.Sign 2

Poor Christine! I don’t feel like I’m normally quite so whiny, especially to someone who I don’t know all that well. But, I cried and fussed and whined and told her over and over again just how bad I was feeling (YIKES! Sorry!!!). I told her I was trying to get it out of my mind and just couldn’t shake it! She told me the story of them getting there and how Ian had signed the sign that Suzanne was holding and how even her Sunday School class had prayed for me. Her words were so sweet! I loved listening. I was trying so hard to get my body to cooperate, and I was so frustrated that it just wasn’t happening.

10402646_10203313907515709_7530375613913503096_n(1)Then I ran out of water. I hadn’t seen Shawn to switch back bottles for the third time or so, and we didn’t see an aid station. I was so dry! And then around the corner on the sidelines there was my friend Rebecca drinking her own bottle of water that I grabbed from her and drank. It was SO sweet! (Again, God knew what I needed and when!) The gals from the LMRTT group (pictured above) were just ahead and also offered me a water bottle to fill up mine and more pretzels to eat. They also asked if I needed anything else and told me that I was doing great. I saw my Dad right around there and he walked with us. I had run 21 miles on sore legs but was feeling absolutely positively DONE! He said “She’s got this.” Then Shawn came and he gave me my new filled water bottles. I wanted to cry and go home, but I didn’t.

10419626_10152022483825870_926548107424959110_nEventually my friend Chris jumped in with me around the 22 mile or so. I was between Chris and Christine (or Chris)! Too funny! At mile 23, I thought “This is just a 5K left, let’s go!” And I started running again with what I had left in me. I thought of how Jesus endured so much pain and torture on the cross – this was a walk in the park compared to what He had to go through for my sin! I needed to finish. But, I kept stopping to walk and tried to stretch my muscles. My husband had changed into shorts (still wearing that awesome shirt, though!) and ran with me the last half mile along with both Chris and Chris (hee hee). In the above picture, we’re walking. The last part of the course was uphill, so I decided to walk and couldn’t stand the thought of running again even when it sloped down hill. But, I heard the loud speaker announcing my name as coming around the corner.

FINISH (2)In Mark Remy’s Rulebook of Running (a serious MUST READ for any runner! Soooo funny! Thanks for the suggestion, Crissy!), it says that every runner must run at least one race that ends on a track. I agree. There was something about finishing on this soft surface with the crowds cheering in the stand that felt awesome! I saw my support group and waved as I ran to the finish line. I seriously almost kissed the volunteer who put the medal around my neck.

The next volunteer saw how bad I looked and told me to go to the medical tent immediately. I sat down while the man there put ice on my (screaming!) quad and then got three more soaking wet towels (that were ice cold) and put one on my back, one literally on top of my head, and one to towel off with. He said not to try to stretch my quad back because I would probably tear my hamstrings. It was good advice! He asked me to go lay down and try to flatten out my legs, but I just wanted to go with my family and friends. So, I thanked him and hobbled (literally hobbled!) out of the medical area to greet my Dad and friends who were there. The last tip the guy gave me was to walk around the corner and immediately drink a regular soda to get my sugar level up and eat some food. But there wasn’t any soda anywhere! My friend Suzanne (pictured below) went and got me a pretzel and later went and grabbed me a slice of pizza. I also ate half an apple, which tasted SO good!

suzanne me (2)I loved the sign and the fact that she’d driven there (waking up early and bringing her baby) to see me. She also brought her sister along to run with me! Christine not only ran with me the miles I asked her to, she continued until the end. I think she realized how bad I felt (I had made it more than clear! Ugh!) and knew that I wouldn’t make it alone.

Christine MeChris came prepared with his phone and “clubbing tunes” as I had asked him to. He and his wife got the music ready the night before so I’d have a beat to try and finish with. While I had to walk during some of it anyway, I was glad to have something to listen to that I didn’t need to mess with. I had ditched my earphones clear back at mile 16 when I saw Shawn and asked him for help and Jen started praying for me, etc.

Chris MeI was also glad to see my Dad there. I laughed at this picture because I had already started eating when I thought about getting pictures with my support group. I was so hungry and feeling so shaky that I realized the advice I had gotten in the medical tent wasn’t just advice – he was afraid I might pass out. I was too! I really felt strange and downright awful.

Dad Me

I wish I had gotten another picture with Rebecca and her Mom and their sign. I was so mentally done by that point that I didn’t think of everything. 😦 But it was amazing that they were there for the entire race.

And, I was also so impressed with my husband. I know he has pain typically from when he blew out his knee and broke his foot and had ankle surgery. I know he doesn’t run. But I also know he would have ran the entire way back with me if I would have asked because he knew I was struggling. He watched the kids for me to train, he kept encouraging me to try my best, and he told me he wouldn’t take me home until after I crossed that finish line. I almost gave up at mile 21, but I thought about his joking that his car wouldn’t be available until after mile 26.2. He deserved this medal more than me!

Shawn Me FINISHED

My real shout out, though, is to God. I was worried about one specific set of problems, but worry really does nothing! Prayer does, however! Each item I was concerned about was covered in prayer and God answered in a huge way! The weather was beautiful, my stomach was more calm than it’s been in weeks/months, my Achilles pain wasn’t bothering me, and even though my feet are blistered, bloody and more than grotesque I only barely felt them during the actual run. More than that, I’m not seriously injured. Sure, I’m sore, but I’ll survive and be able to run again. I was worried that I may have a permanent problem after the race, and I’m so thankful I don’t. God also knew that I’d need help and support and provided His hands and feet on earth to care for me. The people who prayed, the people who took time to email and write encouraging notes, the people who came and made signs, the people who brought supplies, the people who came and ran and encouraged me… I could just cry thinking of how loved I felt crossing that finish line and knowing how many had been encouraging and supporting me as I did. I truly felt God’s love and the love of His people.

1 FINISHMy finish time wasn’t what I wanted. I knew that finishing in less than four hours was unrealistic compared to what I had trained at. The rule of thumb is to double your half marathon time and add 10 minutes. So, if I did that, taking my worst half and doubling it, I still should have finished in less than 4 hours and 15 minutes. If I took my best, I’d be just over 4 hours. I hoped I would have a really good day and pull in just around 4 hours. But, I told myself that anything under 4 and a half hours was awesome. It wasn’t under. I finished at 4:36:32 according to the official record keeper (which is a second later than the picture shows me above, but who really cares at this point?!?! Ha!). I was slooooowww compared to what my training was. But, I’m realizing that it’s so I can’t boast. I can’t brag. I can’t be proud. That’s not why I was supposed to run this race. It simply wasn’t about me. I’m thrilled that I finished. Truly, for how bad I felt, I wanted to quit and would have had it not been for the support I had. Even getting to that finish line was a huge victory. And it wasn’t my victory – it was God’s strength that carried me.

Crissy Me FINISHERSWhile I was on the course, I saw a man pass me (groan!) with a t-shirt that said on the back the exact verse that has carried me since I signed up for this marathon “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13. Truly, to God be the glory! I honestly can’t do all things, no matter how hard I train. But I believe that God can. I KNOW He can do anything He desires.

My friend Rebecca shared this verse today, and it rings true to my heart (thanks for sharing it!):

“I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” — Acts 20:24

The race is over. May God receive the honor and glory that He’s due! If you’re still reading (and I realize that this was a long post), please give Him a hearty thank you and praise Him! HE is awesome!

Thank You, Lord, for caring about even the birds of the air. You know us, Your people. You know our needs. You know our tendencies. I’m so thankful that You are with us! Forgive me where I’ve experienced the desire for pride. May You alone receive the honor that You’re due. Thank You for helping us finish the race of life… we are grateful for the journey. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Advertisements

Running Reflections

“Lord, You are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” Isaiah 25:1

For those of you who don’t know me, I was obese most of my life. After the birth of my second son, I desired to get healthy and completed a Bible study called “Breaking Free.” For the first time ever, I believed that God could change me and make me healthy and thin for His glory! I began taking walks around our neighborhood pushing a double stroller. I was huffing and puffing just getting around one block!

Valerie KidsThis picture is of me with my first son, before getting pregnant with the second. The other three little girls pictured are my nieces (one of which you’ll see pictured below).

But, I lost some weight and eventually began running. I live near a path that goes to a park, and it’s just over three miles to go up and back without adding half-mile loops at the park itself. I didn’t time myself, I didn’t run with music, I just ran and enjoyed the outdoors and the exercise. I’m sure I wasn’t fast, but I felt GREAT! I also did some exercise videos while my kids napped. I will say that losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise, but it is the combination. More than that, it’s the changing of habits and it’s the will and determination that come only from God transforming our heart and mind. Truly, I was lost before laying my desires at His feet. I start my day with reading His Word and I pray.Before AfterThis picture shows the difference of me six years or so ago to last year. All glory to God!

I got pregnant with my third son and quit. I ate like it was the last time I would ever see food. And I gained 60 of the 80 lbs I had lost back. But, about sixish months after giving birth, we joined the local gym with childcare. I huffed and puffed through the low-impact classes designed more for older folks. I could barely keep up! But, I challenged myself. When they became easy, I tried new classes. I remember going to a class called “Body Attack” and I was by far the fattest person in the room. But I tried my best! I remember taking the low-impact options and still feeling like I was going to die before the eighth track even started. But I tried my best and kept with it. I LOVED it!

I ran only when the weather was nice before, but then I would run occasionally on the treadmill at the gym after BodyPump. I could only run for about 20 minutes before feeling like I had to quit. But, I did my best.

I was invited to join the LMRTT group. I ran my first 5K on June 22, 2013 (just last year!). I knew I could run the distance, but I had never ever even gone to a race before. I was so nervous the night before that I didn’t sleep a wink. I finally told myself that my race entry fee was a donation to my favorite organization and I wasn’t going. I felt calmer then. But, my husband suggested I go. My devotions that morning included this verse: “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights” Habakkuk 3:19. The race was close to home and for a good cause, so I went. I saw some friends there, and I had a GREAT time! And my time was 24:41.63 – something I wouldn’t have dreamed I would hit! My goal was to finish in 30 minutes.

19908_10151765584313755_119312155_nIn August, friends of mine from the gym were running 11 miles, training for a half marathon. I had never run more than four miles before, but I said yes to going along. They said they were taking breaks and I was in much better shape by then – probably the best shape of my life up to that point. I was SO sore afterward, but I did it! I also lost two toe nails in the process (eventually I bought some sneakers a half size bigger, and I also made sure my toe nails were nice and short when running).

I ran with these same two sweet girls again when they were going the whole way to 13.1. I just wanted to see if I could. Again, I was sore, but I made it! And so when a bib came available at the last minute (about a week and a half prior to the race) for the Hershey Half Marathon, I bought it. My goal was just to finish, as I hadn’t done any training. I completed it in 2:04:41.Cropped Medal Photo

That December, I bought my first cold weather gear for running outside even in nasty weather. (I’ve also learned all about the need for Body Glide, what are some good brands and not good brands of running socks and other vital information along the way!) I met some new Mama friends Christmas Eve and ran six jolly miles wearing festive apparel. My Mom bought me a Garmin 110 for Christmas and I was thrilled!1524261_10152187202428755_1510076210_oThen some gals that are part of LMRTT started talking about a full marathon. I didn’t even consider it at first, but then I began to think of the verse in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Could I – someone who’s lost over 100 lbs – finish 26.2 miles? I wasn’t sure, but I decided to sign up. My husband and I made a little bet to help us continue losing weight. If I could reach 5 lbs gone by the date, I could pay the entry fee. We would consider it “throw away” money if I didn’t finish. Even then, I didn’t think I could actually finish it. But, I didn’t want to lose the spot if I could finish the training!

I had researched training plans and read books on marathons. I finalized my decisions and got my training plan in order and marked the dates on the calendar. There was one long run, one tempo run, and one speed work run per week and then cross training. I still loved my other classes and workouts, so this fit perfectly in with my life. The training calculator asked for a race that I’d completed, so I used my one and only 5K time to get my paces. They were challenging at first but not impossible to complete, so I figured I was right where I needed to be.

My first long run was outside by myself, after it had snowed. I ran nine miles in my new cold gear and felt like I was hardcore! I was sore and screamed during the ice bath afterward – that’s cold after a cold run!Me7Another run I distinctly remember doing was in 18 degrees with wind chills in the single digits. The sweat in our hair literally turned it white from frost. Erika Roseanne MeAnd my eyelashes were white, which I realized was them freezing!!!Frozen Hair

My hair turning white with frost as I would sweat! Freezing cold doesn’t even begin to describe the temps of most of our training runs!

The next week there was such a bad snow storm that we decided to do the 13.1 miles we had to run on the DREADMILL!!!! It was downright awful! I will never do that again, BUT I was thankful to finish it with a new friend I had met through LMRTT, Erika.Run1This is where I should stop and say that I’ve met some wonderful other running women along this journey!10003299_10152392148053755_45153466_nI signed up for another half marathon half way through my training plan simply to have a “girls weekend.” It was the Love Run Half Marathon in Philly, and I ran the entire thing with my friend Erika. We both beat our Hershey times! Our goal was to be under two hours and even with the literal monsoon (I mean record rainfall – downpour doesn’t begin to describe how WET and COLD this race was in Philly), we came in at 1:57:50.Erika Me DONEMy friend Erika was running her full marathon a month earlier than me, and praise God, I was able to convince another Mama from the group, Crissy, to sign up for the Bob Potts Marathon. So, I had a running buddy as the long runs became really loooooonnnggg.

This photo below includes a couple of the moms running this race and other moms from the LMRTT group. Unfortunately, Crissy wasn’t able to be there that day. And we haven’t grabbed any pictures on our runs, but I’m hoping we get one at the marathon itself!10168136_10152397350913665_2500270781727004067_nAnother memorable run was a solo 10-mile tempo one on a nearby trail, where I jumped over this snake! I was almost on top of him until I saw him. YIKES!!!603647_10152424869708755_2126084682494160566_nThe first time I went to run 16 miles, I was only able to complete just under 14 until I quit because my right leg was so sore. I cried the whole way home and told my husband it was time to quit. He encouraged me to wait until the next long run to make my official decision.

Then a short sermon-ette came on the radio (how I wish I would have listened closer to hear who it was to give them proper credit!). The message was on perseverance. The speaker said our society is full of quitters. If we don’t like a job, we quit. We drop out of college, etc. And today so many times when marriages get tough, we simply walk away rather than sticking with our commitments. I think the sermon was probably about marriage, but my mind was reeling. Indeed, I have quit most things I didn’t care for. When it got tough, if I wasn’t loving it, I stopped. If I wasn’t good at it, I would move on to something else. Not too long after hearing this on the radio, mMe Racingy kids dug out a DVD that we hadn’t seen in a long time (you know the ones at the back of the shelf). One of the short segments from this “Auto B. Good” DVD was on perseverance and how it’s important to keep trying and never give up. Again, I felt like God was speaking to me. I had signed up for this race; I should keep trying at least! I felt in my spirit like I was to keep going with this commitment I made. So, I told my husband Shawn that I was going to try and stick with it to the end.

With new-found determination, I had a great 16-mile run. Then 18-miles was another hard one (while I finished, I had to walk a small part of it and was so sore!) Again, I decided it wasn’t a good choice to keep trying. But, I prayed and asked God for strength and courage, and this time I asked some friends to pray for me as well, and our 20-mile test drive of the course went great!1 Me FaithLast weekend I ran the GOTR 5K with my niece and I wasn’t nervous for the race, other than knowing she can be a sprinter at times which is hard to keep up with. I was glad to encourage her and finish my second 5K.

Other than the race, most of my runs since the 20-miler have been pretty awful. I know that tapering is tough mentally and physically. My right leg is so sore I can barely stand it – my calf, Achilles and all around my ankle and heel are ungodly painful. I have potty issues during most runs (TMI?) and I’m still not sure what I want to wear to race day because the skirt that looks so adorable requires an additional application of Body Glide for my skin not to chafe.

But, today was a new day of thankfulness for me. I finished the entire 18-week calendar of training. Never before had I stuck with something so intense. Even if the marathon doesn’t go well, I’ve at least done my best in each and every run. I haven’t always gone the entire distance or kept to the required pace. But I’ve always given it my all.

I looked at my training log (my New Year’s Resolution for 2014), and as of today – May 22, 2014 – for this calendar year as I’ve been preparing for this marathon, I’ve run 413.39 miles, logged 46 hours of additional cardio cross-training (whether biking or classes like Body Attack or Step), and completed an additional 41 hours of strength and flexibility training (classes like Pump, CXWORX and BodyFlow or Yoga).

3Me

Even with my training and being in the best shape of my life, if I’m being completely honest, I’m still terrified for the marathon. Even that is an understatement. I have no idea if I can finish 26.2 miles. In fact, I’m pretty sure that on my own in my own strength, I can’t. That’s a long time to be going and giving your best. I’ve had to quit running four miles due to pain or just not being able to get there mentally.

But, I’ve had so many people praying for me and encouraging me that I believe that through God, all things are possible. I still believe that nothing is too difficult for Him! When I look back over my journey, I remember being the girl who was obese most of her life, even getting married when I weighed over 60 more lbs than I do today. (I’ve lost over 100 lbs from my heaviest weight ever!) For that girl to even sign up for a marathon on the off-chance she could finish it is something. To complete the training is amazing!

1545164_10202980502046574_7425368994317317358_nThe above picture was taken by LMRTT member Jen Eby as she was completing her marathon training. She shared it on my wall, and I absolutely love it!

May I also say that God has been faithful! I haven’t been so sick that I couldn’t run. I’ve also had friends to run with. I have a husband who doesn’t really ‘get’ running (where’s the ball? you’re not being chased? why would you pay to run?) and yet encourages me to be my best and do my best. I have people who are even willing to come and see my finish this race – which is craziness as it will be as fun as waiting for water to boil (or worse!) on a hot day. And this race starts at 6 am!

Plus, the encouragement and prayers overwhelm me! The Bible verses that have been shared are close to my heart. In addition to the one above, a couple other favorites include:

Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”

1 Chronicles 5:20, “They cried out to God during the battle, and He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him…”

There are more I could share, but I realize this post is getting long already!

All that said, I am determined to try my best. I’m giving it to God. So long as I finish, I’ll have a PR in a marathon! And I’ll share the end of the story…

Ladies, even if you’re just starting to run, keep going. No matter what your pace or what your distance, you are doing great! Praise God that you have lungs to breathe and legs to carry you! I don’t take either one for granted! I cheer on those who are faster than me and those who are slower. I can’t keep up with either faster or slower very well, BUT I can cheer you on. When I see someone running, I always pray for breath and perseverance. We are all on our own journey – may you finish yours well!

 “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Facing YOUR Giants

“Be courageous! Let us fight bravely to save our people and the cities of our God. May the Lord’s will be done.” 1 Chronicles 19:13

Every day I ask the Lord to speak to me through His Word. This morning, I was reminded once again that no matter what the circumstance, the battle and the victory belong to God.

Have you ever read through 1 Chronicles? I find these passages to be a bit on the boring side…..snoooozzzzzzz. (Please forgive me, Lord!) This time as I was reading the name of each tribe member, though, I was reminded that God cares about each and every person. These aren’t just a list of names to Him; these are people He cared very deeply for! Our name means something to Him!

Yesterday, I saw over and over again how it was the Lord who gave David victory in all he did. Verse 18:7b says “…So the Lord gave David victory wherever he went.” Likewise, 1 Chronicles 18:13b says “…This was another example of how the Lord made David victorious wherever he went.” Before these two, God told David in 1 Chronicles 17:8a “I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies…”

Today as I was reading through all the many victories the Israelites had over their enemies, I was tempted to yawn once again (yikes!). All the sudden it struck me, though, that God gave the Israelites incredible victories over seemingly insurmountable circumstances. I got excited!!! So, let me say this again, just in case you’re almost missing it like I almost did: GOD GRANTED VICTORY WHEN THE ODDS SEEMED DOWNRIGHT IMPOSSIBLE!!!!

Over and over again, I read how one person killed thousands in a battle. The military exploits became incredible to think about. In 1 Chronicles 14:13-16, we learn “But after a while, the Philistines returned and raided the valley again. And once again David asked God what to do. ‘Do not attack them straight on,’ God replied. ‘Instead circle around behind them and attack them near the balsam trees. When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the balsam trees, attack! That will be the signal that God is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistines. So David did what God commanded, and he struck down the Philistine army all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.” Notice how God moved ahead of the Israelites and was the One who struck them down. David simply asked for direction and obeyed what God told him to do.

This morning I read 1 Chronicles 20:4-8: “After this, war broke out with the Philistines at Gezer. As they fought, Sibbecai from Hushah killed Saph, a descendant of the giants, and so the Philistines were subdued. During another battle with the Philistines, Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi, the brother of Goliath of Gath. The handle of Lahmi’s spear was as thick as a weaver’s beam! In another battle with the Philistines of Gath, a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot – a descendant of the giants – defied and taunted Israel. But he was killed by Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimea. These Philistines were descendants of the giants of Gath, but they were killed by David and his warriors.”

WOW! I read this passage and realized that we face a lot of “giants” in our life. But, when we rely on God, we can have peace that giants are no match for our great God! Do you think the men who won those battles were afraid? I’m guessing they were at least partially nervous. But, their names are written as victors in THE most important book ever! This isn’t just a list of names – these victories are important to think about! Look what God can do!

“Shaking in my boots” doesn’t even begin to describe the level of anxiety I’m feeling over running a full marathon this coming Sunday. The 26.2 mile course ahead feels bigger than a giant. But, I was reminded once again after reading this today that I need to trust that God is BIGGER! God is STRONGER! God can do ANYTHING! I’m relying on His mercy and grace.

May I say that no matter what your personal giant – health problems, financial burdens, habits or addictions, uncertainty with jobs or moving, parental responsibilities or aging parents – GOD IS ABLE! We need to be like David – ask God for direction and obey the orders we receive. Like the other listed warriors, we need to stand strong and do our part, but honor God as HE grants the victory. These men didn’t conquer the giants themselves. They had a BIG Helper! And so do we!!! Let’s thank Him in advance!

Father God, You are amazing! We believe that You created us for such a time as this. We trust You and Your purpose. You are holy and You are able. You speak, and it comes to pass. So, Lord, we’re asking for direction. Which way do we go? How do we move? Please teach us to hear the ‘rustling in the trees’ of where You are going before us. And may we stand strong, like these men did when they were fighting their battles against their giants. Please enable us to persevere and win! Give us courage. Give us strength. Give us the victory!

Lord, I specifically pray for each person reading this – while I may not even know them or their battle, I believe that You do. Please, Lord, move on their behalf. Speak to their hearts. Let them know Your will. May You receive the honor and glory that comes from their victory.

God, I also ask for peace. Please help me conquer this marathon, for Your honor alone! I know that I can’t run 26.2 miles on my own – it looks bigger than a giant to me. But I believe that You can enable my body to get through, so I trust in Your goodness and look forward to singing Your praise! You are good, and we thank You for everything You are, everything You have done, and everything You continue to do. We love You! In Jesus’ Name we pray, AMEN!