Let Us Run With Endurance The Race God Has Set Before Us
I could think of no better title for this post than Hebrews 12:1, my inspiration over the past year as I decided I wanted to run a race–literally. Upon learning of our move to Oklahoma, I devised a list of five goals I wanted to complete here, among them was my very first 5K. Each goal was written with the intention of making me personally or our family stronger and better in an effort to also strengthen my relationship with Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. And, I am proud to tell you I completed my very first 5K this past weekend, jogging the whole way!
If you’ve known me long, you would have known I hate running and have the endurance of a couch potato. Literally. I am easily winded, not athletic in the least, and as such, I was very, very, very out of practice. My last job, a desk job, did not require much physical activity and I used that coupled with my master’s coursework as reason enough to get out of much exercise. Well, at Fort Sill, I knew my excuses had run out, and I wanted to accomplish something out of my usual comfort zone: actually jogging/running a 5K, not resorting to my usual walk or “jalk” (Jog/Talk), a term a friend recently coined on social media!
I began training when we first moved here in the heat of July, and the first couple of days were excruciating to say the least. The heat of summer was upon us, and I could barely make it down the block without stopping. I tend to be a person of perseverance, and I valued my goal highly, but I must give credit where credit is due; my husband really helped to encourage me, coach me and push me along in this endeavor.
He began to run with me, at my snail’s pace, which I know must have been miserable since he is more naturally athletic and runs much farther distances with the Army every day. But, even after a long day at work and completing his own PT in the morning, he would run with me, at my pace, never complaining or mocking my slow gait. He would carry on light conversation to distract me from the work before us, and our jogs surprisingly became one of the best parts of my day. We could really unwind from work and worry about nothing but the exercise for a brief period of time. As I got into better shape, I could converse back with him for the first part of the run, more and more as time went on. I was never the fastest, but speed wasn’t my goal as much as simple endurance and completing the race. We talked of all manner of things–our dreams for the future, politics, religion, work, family. Our jogs became our “quality time.”
We soon became known as “The Couple Who Runs Together” around the neighborhood and at a barbecues, which was quite funny and ironic to me–me, Amanda, a runner? Never! Slowly but surely, day by day, I was becoming something akin to one.
Alas, we didn’t train as much as we would have liked. Life simply got in the way. As July faded into August and August to September and then October, I found myself still nowhere ready for my 5K. We had increased our distance and had been steadily running a comfortable 2.5 miles or so a few times a week before Luke strained a hamstring and I used that as an excuse to halt my training. Without my running buddy, I didn’t have a desire to get off the couch. That period of time set me back by leaps and bounds. We completed a neighborhood virtual 5K “Brew HaHa” on Halloween morning with our friends and neighbors, and I was sucking wind by 1/2 a mile. I ended up falling back to walk with my friend, Lydia and her baby Ella, and Luke, after making sure I was OK, ran on ahead. I was disappointed in my poor performance but enjoyed the day anyway, and because I am still so self conscious of my slow pace, I was mostly OK that I didn’t complete this as my “First 5K” after all.
If you look in the photo, it looks like we were racing across the finish line, but we weren’t. The photo was just staged that way all in good fun. This is a great group of folks though, and I am grateful we all did the 5K, just some of us walked more than others!
I didn’t earn that medal though, and it ate at me. I am a finisher, a goal completer, not a quitter. That became my mantra and was the motivation I needed to get moving and into real shape for the Texoma D.R.A.W. (Diabetes Run and Walk) on November 12th. I had signed up for it early in October, and I knew this was a race I would complete–at least mentally. I hoped my body could keep up! The week of the race dawned, and I still had question marks if I could jog it; on our last training jog, I was pretty winded at about 2.5 miles, and as you know a 5K is 3.1.
I decided to just go for it; no better time than to break that distance barrier than in an actual race! The Texoma D.R.A.W. was in the evening on Saturday, so we spent the day relaxing. I had brunch and went shopping with my friend Rachel while Luke watched sports, and then we drove down in the afternoon. My hair dresser is in Wichita Falls, TX, so I scheduled a hair cut before the race just for convenience sake. It is about an hour’s drive down there so it didn’t make sense to make two back-to-back trips. After the hair cut, we headed to pick up our race packets downtown. Although we had pre-registered for shirts, they had apparently given ours away accidentally, so my shirt was about 3 sizes too big and draped me like a dress! That turned out OK though because it was a bit of a chilly November evening, so the extra layer over my other t-shirt provided me with some warmth until we really got into the run.
I was really excited to do this run for charity and had my mind set that I was going to make it. This was it. Luke had his mind set too–at this point, he saw it as much about him as my trainer as it was about me! But, in all reality, he was very focused on helping me reach my goal. After a speech from the mayor and the local weatherman whose son has juvenile diabetes and really put into perspective what we were running for, we were off! We had time chips on our shoelaces but weren’t really concerned with our time, just the desire to jog the whole way through.
Many people took off at dead sprints and passed us and we found ourselves as the only “runners” back with the pack of walkers for a bit. But, we kept our slow but steady pace and one by one we passed the walkers followed by the initial sprinters who tired out within the first mile. A few would stop-start and pass us and then fall back, but we jogged steadily along the whole way. The route was a bit hilly, which had been Luke’s one main concern. Our training route was pretty flat (it is Oklahoma), and he predicted hills could kill me. But, we handled them together, step by step, one after the other. It was mostly an open route around downtown, so we had to be careful of traffic in some of the intersections. A lot of the kids carried glow sticks to help light the way. It was pretty fun running after dark, and I think I found myself more comfortable in that setting versus the morning 5K because all of our previous jogs had been in the evenings.
And, step by step, we made it! Luke always believes in a strong finish so we sprinted in for the last quarter mile and everyone was cheering for us as we crossed the inflatable arch finish line! That was a glorious moment for me!
We didn’t make any record breaking times, but when that medal was placed around my neck, I felt proud. I had earned this. From being on the couch 12 weeks ago to being able to run an entire 5K, we had come a long way. That race redefined my “possible.” What doesn’t kill you (and it felt like it just might at times!) really does make you stronger. I am so grateful for this experience and for my husband who encouraged me to Just Do It, in the words of Nike.
For my reward, I kept psyching myself up with the idea of a Schlotzky’s sandwich. I love, love, love the Schlotzky’s Original, and there isn’t one here in Lawton. So, I only get to eat it if we go to Wichita Falls. That became my reward mantra and at some twists and turns honestly what I was running for. I hadn’t eaten since brunch so my stomach wouldn’t be full on the 5K, and I could not wait to savor that sub. It was everything I had hoped for! (Luke isn’t a fan, but hey, it was my reward meal so I used it wisely as a chance to convince him to eat there.)
Luke asked me on the way home if I’m up for a half marathon next, and you know I am just not sure that’s in the cards! I may never be a “runner,” but I think I would be up for another 5K, this time with a goal to increase my speed. It is a hobby we can both enjoy together, and that makes it fun too! At the very least, I want to continue our evening jogs or walks together because I love rewinding from the day and enjoying the early evening hours, just the two of us before dinner and our bedtime routine. With Daylight Savings Time ending, it’s much darker now, so we may need to invest in some reflective clothing and choose our routes more carefully–the wildlife is out in full force. Coming home at 7:00 this evening an entire group of deer were casually loping across Sheridan, one of the main roads here on post!
This 5K exercise was much like my Christian walk and a good daily reminder: “Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1
Let me hear from you!
Are you a runner? If so, what are some of the ways you motivate and encourage yourself as you work to complete a race?
Thanks for following our journey, and run the race well this week, my friends, whatever you may have planned, whatever work the Rat Race brings, may you find encouragement and comfort in God, whose plan always far surpasses any of ours!