Last year on January 1, I made one single, solitary goal for 2012:
finish a half-marathon
Even now I laugh a little bit thinking about what a ridiculous goal it was for me to make then. At that point, I’d never even run a 5K… much less 13.1 miles. The idea was daunting to me and I didn’t even know where to begin.
However, I didn’t begin training then. The story begins further back in 2010 when I was a Forge student. As a class we spent time every morning training together in a variety of ways. Sometimes it was strength training, sometimes long runs, sometimes seemingly endless repetitions of lunges. I hated every minute. I never grew to love it and always felt weak. Those workouts ended in tears for me more often than not. As an over-achiever I struggled through the shame of feeling like a failure every single day. In my mind I heard,
“Lacey. You will not be the best at this, no matter how hard you try. Even at your best, you’ll probably be last. So why keep trying?”
The thing is… I didn’t have a choice. Those group workouts were going to happen every single day, whether I liked it or not. I learned that discipline has everything to do with obedience and very little do with how we feel. In a culture that puts ultimate value on happiness and how we emotionally respond to our circumstances, obedience isn’t very appealing.
Let’s fast forward a bit.
In 2011 I moved to Tyler to work at a local church and became friends with Jenny. She encouraged me to try a Body Combat class at a local gym. I hesitantly went to that first class fearful that every person there would know I was a poser, a fitness failure and would be roundhouse kicked right out of there. To my surprise, I loved the class and couldn’t wait to go back. I wasn’t very good at it… but the instructors were so fun and the other women were so nice, I was hooked.
As I started to go to classes consistently, I saw myself getting stronger bit by bit. My endurance grew and I began to enjoy (GASP!) the adrenaline rush of pushing through a tough set at Body Pump. That’s when the half marathon goal became less of a dreamy fog and more of a reality. I could train… if I decided to.
In April, Jenny ran an Olympic-length Triathlon (I KNOW… she’s a beast) and I offered to run the 10K leg at the end with her. I needed a goal and needed to prove to myself that I could train to run, even though I never really had in the past. Training for a 10K wasn’t awful at all. When I felt myself lag I could hear my Matt (my Forge director), in my head saying, “You can always push yourself a little bit further than you think you can… you’ll be surprised at what you are really capable of if you work harder.” I didn’t really listen when I was a Forge student, but those words kept me going a year later when I felt like I couldn’t run any further. It always surprised me that if I pushed a little further, untapped bursts of energy were sure to follow.
With the 10K under my belt, I knew that the half was possible. Now I needed to choose a race. I waited and waited and WAITED thinking that I would want to do the White Rock half, but all the while hoping that a fun group would decide to run a half together. In September, my friend Chelsea posted on her blog asking others to join in the fun for the BCS half marathon in December. I knew this was it. The other girls who were training are all so joyful, encouraging and FUN to be around, I couldn’t ask for a better circumstance for my first half marathon.
Training was difficult for a number of reasons. I chose to do a 21 day sugar detox in October, which zapped a lot of my energy at the start. Also, I strained a muscle and did some physical therapy through Airrosti, which made me nervous to keep running. However, Airrosti’s goal is for you to keep training while healing, so I didn’t slow down much. If you’re struggling with a sports injury, I’d highly recommend an Airrosti clinic!
December 9 was approaching so quickly and every time I thought about it I was sick to my stomach. I just didn’t feel ready. All sorts of “should’ves” were rolling around in my head. I should’ve trained harder. I should be running faster. I should be eating Paleo. I should… WAIT STOP STOP STOP. Should is probably my least favorite word ever. I thought back to the lessons I learned during the Forge. I was not going to be the fastest. I probably would finish last in our group. I wasn’t going to be the best… but that shouldn’t stop me from choosing to run anyway. Finishing last wasn’t a failure. Choosing to succumb to my fear would be, though.
Race weekend came and I was super excited/nervous/stressed/ready to GET THIS OVER WITH. Our group caravanned down to College Station, ate an excellent dinner, watched Johnny Football win the Heisman (while in C-Stat, cray), then got ready for an early morning while our incredible friends made posters to inspire us along the route.
I couldn’t fall asleep until about 3 am that night and woke up at 5:30 am to get ready for the race. Nerves + excitement mean sleepless nights for me. Ate a banana and a bagel, loaded up the car and headed to the race! As we walked closer and closer to the starting line I got more excited. There were so many PEOPLE! It was like a party… for running. Never did I ever think I’d be there, with a number on my tank about to run for a few hours. NERVOUS NERVOUS NERVOUS. We got all our gear together, a quick good luck kiss from my man, gun fired and we were off!
I run alone. Always. I just don’t like running with people… right now. That will probably change as I train better and get more comfortable running. However, that day was different. My friend Kyndell didn’t train for the race but decided to run a good bit of it with me. For the first four miles Kyndell and I pounded pavement alongside each other in silence and IT WAS AWESOME. I really don’t know if I would’ve enjoyed the race as much as I did if Kyndell hadn’t been with me. We didn’t talk, but it was so nice just to have a buddy there. KK, you were a huge part of my success that day. Thanks for coming alongside me.
Eventually I got bored with the race environment and cranked up the running playlist. Lately I’ve been obsessed with When Can I See You Again? by Owl City. It has a great pulse and just makes me happy. The playlist kept me going for the last half of the race, no repeats and LOTS of singing along.. out loud. It’s funny how anything feels socially acceptable when you’re struggling to just keep going.
As I rounded the corner for the finish I got really emotional. It was done. I didn’t walk throughout the race and I was about to finish. Everyone said that you get a rush of strength right at the end and boy… did I ever. Those last 50 yards or so were the fastest I’ve ever run. A full out sprint to the finish and it felt so good.
We were all pretty relieved to be done. I really couldn’t have asked for a more fun group of girls to do this race with. I’m also pretty glad that they share the same medal philosophy as I do. How often in life do you get to wear a medal? NEVER. Except for race day. That day, you wear your medal to breakfast and Starbucks and even while napping on the car ride home. It’s medal day.
I learned a lot about coming alongside while training for this race. Thinking even as far back as the Forge, this journey hasn’t been one that I did alone, really ever. While at the Forge I had brothers and sisters urging me to the top of mountains (literally). My dear friend Jenny coming alongside me to sweat it out in Body Combat and then to share the end of the tri together. I had Kyndell run the first third of the half with me. And of course, this guy:
Jesse taught me a lot about coming alongside, without ever running a mile with me. He traveled to Marble Falls for the 10K, and gave up an entire weekend to hang with a LOT of girls, make signs and cheer for me at the half. I mean, he even chased me down to hand off my inhaler at mile 4 (I’M SO COOL I KNOW). He drove me all the way back home after the race because I was seriously crashing. When I got bored of training and wanted to skip workouts he would gently remind me that the half was coming, whether I trained for it or not. THAT was exactly what I needed. Far too often I can excuse my way out of anything, but he was there to remind me of truth. The race was going to happen, it was up to me to decide how I was going to do it.
Someone who comes alongside doesn’t stay in one place. There’s forward motion. My Forge class, Jenny, Kyndell and Jesse all urged me to keep moving forward. Sometimes at a comfortable pace, other times at a pace that stretched me and frustrated me… but always with someone beside me.
It’s January 1 again and I’m sure that you are thinking of the year ahead. Maybe you have list of formal goals with benchmarks and strategies to accomplish them, or like me last year, you have a single, solitary goal in mind. Whatever the case, I wonder, who is coming alongside you? Who will urge you to move forward and speak truth, even when it’s frustrating? Look around, in whatever area you are moving forward, I bet there’s someone who will walk, sprint, jog or simply cheer beside you.
Looking ahead to 2013:
conditioning- to train or accustom (someone or something) to behave in a certain way or to accept certain circumstances.
but more on that later…