Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Slow Run

I think today I want to write about running.  And I don't think I can write about running without writing about the two people that have encouraged me to start running more lately... my cousins, Jenn and Connie.

In addition to signing up for my first bike race... I signed up for a half marathon in October.  I know it's not a huge deal to a lot of people who run half marathons in their sleep but it's a big deal for me... because... I hate running.  

I actually started biking because something weird happened with my hip a couple years ago... I was running and then it felt like a knife got rammed into my SI joint within the first half mile and would twist every time I ran a step so I gave up running and then took up biking because my hip didn't hurt while I was biking.  And then I have no idea what happened... oh... I think I signed up for the triathlon so I started to run again... just a little bit... but then I bought expensive running shoes because I thought it might help... it sort of helped.  But I still hated running.  At least after the triathlon I knew I could run a 5K without stopping.  That was the first time I'd run that many miles without walking.  So... 3 miles was an OK running goal.

I was running 10 minute miles and pushing myself to go faster... but finding that I wanted to quit way early... way before my 3 mile goal.  But whatevers.  Running 1 mile is better than running no miles.  

I seriously don't know what happened after that but... I think we (Connie, Jenn and I) decided to go running on a weekly basis... I'm not sure for what reason... or maybe they go running on a weekly basis and I decided to join them but our running sessions really helped change my perspective on running.  Running wasn't about going hard or pushing to go faster... it was about pacing ourselves and also... talking and enjoying each other's company along the way.  

I took this picture at the beach.  I'd done this ride many times before but for some reason a few weeks ago, I felt like God was telling me to listen to the road and slow down.  When I started running with Jenn and Connie... we ran 12 minute miles... and then 3 miles didn't feel AS torturous.  It was still torturous but not as much.  And then I think... we somehow decided to increase our mileage every week... half a mile... and then another half a mile the next week... and then next thing I knew I was running 5.5 miles.  That is running for 1 hour straight.  Or maybe "running" is a loose term.  It's jogging.

So then Jenn encouraged me to sign up for a half marathon.  And I don't know what possessed me to do this but... I signed up for the half marathon AND the 20 mile bike ride prior.  I semi knew that it would take me over an hour to ride 20 miles... and then to run for potentially 2 hours and 45 minutes... 13 miles... but... I did it.  I paid for it.  And now... barring any injuries... I'm gonna do it.

My times with Connie and Jenn have been super precious to me.  When I moved out to Pasadena for work... I was so lonely... I felt so cut off from church community... it's such a rare thing for people in Orange County to want to venture out into the San Gabriel Valley and driving back to OC after work would take me 1.5+ hours... I just didn't have the capacity to do it when I was starting my new job.  So I went to the gym a lot.  And then one day I think I may have had a depressive meltdown and Connie invited me to go running with her at the Rose Bowl.  Maybe that's how it started.  Whatever or however... my cousin reaching out to me was an answer to prayer.  I could vent to her about work because we're both in the medical field... similar enough to understand each other's work situations but different enough so that we both had different stories to tell.  It was more than just running... it was therapy... it was community... it was accountability... it was love.  And a good workout.  I love multitasking.  Our weekly runs are something I look forward to.  They're soul-nourishing.  I learn so much from just being near them.

This past month though... I've had to run on my own.  Due to circumstances sometimes outside our control... we weren't able to run together for the past few weeks.  So I had to learn how to run... without community and accountability... all by myself.  And it was hard.

I've been opting to run on the treadmill because... it's safer than running outside.  I still haven't explored much around where I live.  And also usually when I get out of work it's been dark... except today.  Today I got out of work and it was still bright so I decided to take advantage of the daylight and run outside.  And I'm glad I did.  The past few weeks have been so crazy... too many things going on... I've needed some time for myself... to unwind... to just think.  Running by myself helped.  I found this on the sidewalk and it made me feel like God left this love note just for me to find today.

Even though this is kind of unrelated... or maybe it isn't... but this past Sunday, our pastor preached on Isaiah 61.  The line that stood out to me from this set of verses was "for the display of His splendor".

Isaiah 61
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.

My life has been transformed and change for the display of His splendor.  I spent some time thinking about this on Sunday and also during my solitary run today.  God takes the brokenness and the ugliness of our lives and exchanges it for beauty... for freedom... for abundant life.  Exchanging my worthlessness for beauty... reminded me of those thrift stores that sometimes will take your old clothes and give you credit to get something else in the store.  I've never done it before.  Mostly, I felt like I didn't have anything of worth that anybody else would want... and I also maybe didn't want someone else's old stuff... but what if what God does for us... is to take EVERYTHING we have... yucky stuff... stuff that we bought for cheap... things that are out of style or even broken, stained, old, nasty, smelly, gross... and gives us brand new Lululemon or Gucci or Versace or Tory Burch or whatever it is that you think is awesome stuff.  Who else would do that except for a God who loves us... who has an abundance of riches and blessings just waiting for us to exchange the rags that we put on everyday because that's all we're used to or that's all we've grown accustomed to doing?

Why do we stay in rags when we could be taking our rags to Jesus to be exchanged for things people would invest a lot to attain... precious things... like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control... it just doesn't make sense to want to stay living in bondage or rags when God has chosen His people for so much more... Riches in eternity but also glimpses of it here on earth.

I'm still not sure about how this relates to my running journey but... usually this is what happens when I start running.  I want to quit after the first half mile... but I don't.  I keep going.  I hit one mile and I feel like... WHAT IN THE WORLD... it's only been one mile?!?  But I keep on going.  Once I hit two miles... I tell myself... just get to 3... just hang on until 3... and then when 3 hits... I say... well maybe you can do 3.5... and then 4... and then 4.5... and then 5... and then the treadmill shuts off at 1 hour so I haven't really pushed myself beyond that on a treadmill... but somehow after the 3rd mile or so... it doesn't start to feel AS bad.  It's not runner's high as much as it is... runner's "I-don't-mind-as-much-as-before".  I thought that I might try to hit the 6 mile mark today but the sun was setting and I didn't want to be caught out in the dark without any flashy lights or reflective whatever-whats-it since the streets here aren't very well lit.

Running still isn't too fun but I signed up for this half marathon so I hafta train for it otherwise it'll destroy me.  I can't expect to go from running 3 miles to running 13 miles without putting in the time and effort it takes to get there.  Just little bit at a time... and I'll get there.

So thank you for reading... and thank you to Jenn and Connie for encouraging me in life and in running and in helping me train for this milestone.  And thank you to fitbit for having crazy workweek challenges with friends which encourages me to go for a run so I don't get behind in my stepcount.

Anyway... I'm learning and growing this month.  That's all I have to say about that...


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