Friday, October 14, 2016

Runner's World Half Marathon Experience Part 1 of 3

Sunday I will run the Runner's World Half Marathon.
 Runner's World is the mecca magazine of all of the running industry. Anyone who is an avid runner or works in the industry knows what the big name means.

 I have had the opportunity to be in the area of Bethlehem, PA for a few days now, exploring the sites, tasting some amazing food, experiencing the most absolutley ridiculous traffic I have ever seen and learning more about myself and about some others. This has by far been one of my favorite expos to attend. (Likely for various reasons.)
 That being said, Sunday I will get to experience the run itself, and I have been looking forward to this race for weeks.
 In part because it is the run put on by the daddy of all the runner's writings (did that make sense? I was looking for the best way to verbalize that.) and in part because this training journey has become one unexpected for me. I want to share a little about it as I endeavor in to this race. And after I run, I will recap the run and the event, along with pictures, for you. For now, I want to share about this journey.

 If you have followed my writings, you have followed the fact that each race comes to mean something along the way. The training journey becomes more of what matters than the race itself. Yes, the race is somewhat euphoric and always leaves me with memories. But the truth is, it is what I learn along the way in my training that teaches me more and what matters the most to me.

 I tend to learn more about my body and my own self in my months of training.
  For this particular race, it didn't start out with a meaning. This race was about being healthy (we began a low carb way of eating); this race was about running the Runner's World Half; this race was about running- it wasn't supposed to be about me and a life journey.
 However, as is the case with most of my runs, it turned in to a new journey.

 Let me explain a little about what this race means to me.
    This year, 2016, has been one of tremendous personal growth for me. While those who have been in my life a long time can maybe see it, the truth is, it has been a very internal journey. But many have played a role without even knowing it.
 This year I have had the opportunity to go to Colombia- an immense eye-opening time that brought me home a new woman. This year has introduced my life to college with a goal I have always wanted to pursue: my degree in Spanish. And this year has provided time for me to also  grow from work experiences.

 This year has also been one I have battled anxiety at its worst. I have wanted to quit. I have faced days I didn't think I could make it from the pure exhaustion that comes from fighting off the thoughts and emotions and negative concepts that go hand in hand with the illness. I have fought for my worth, my sanity, and my own beautiful self in an array of ways that will never be known to others. I don't talk about it much because it tends to overwhelm those around me. But every day I have fought hard to keep allowing myself to become a better me, to be the best me, to not give in to the desperate need to just curl up and quit.
  But I am a fighter. By the strength of God, I keep going. He gives me the will and the way to push through those times. He is who and what keeps me from crumbling an quitting.
  Because I am a fighter. The darkness of anxiety is very real in my world every day; something so few can really understand. But I stand and I fight.

   So, this race to me has come to mean Celebrate Progress. And Keep Fighting!

 You see, this year has brought me anxiety, yes. But this year has also brought for me the most pivotal growth I have ever experienced. I believe in part because I am fighting anxiety, I am growing stronger. Because I am weak and leaning into the power of God, I become better. Because I have these bad days, I have learned to be more grateful and celebrate the good days all the more. And there are a handful of key people who have played a role in helping me through these bad times. Most of these people don't know it, because often they are not involved in a conversation with me as to how much of a difference they play. But these people I will soon mention have come to be ones who help me celebrate my progress.
 And when they celebrate my progress, I am able to also celebrate. I am able to see more clearly. I am able to push through a bad day because they have helped me see a bright moment. These people I want to mention are God-given to me. Part of my path, part of my journey. Part of helping me fight.

 And so that is what this race has come to mean to me a little bit: It's about celebrating my progress. And More so than that, it's about celebrating the people who have helped make a difference for me in getting there. So every mile I run, I run for me, yes. Because I want to keep fighting. And I want to continue to grow and become better.
 But every mile I run on Sunday, I will be running for someone specific. I will pray for that person during that mile. I will celebrate the gift they are to me. I will remember how they have helped me grow through this year. I will recognize how they have helped me progress. And I will run a mile for them.
  For 13.1 miles I will celebrate progress. But I will celebrate even more those who have helped me get there. Tomorrow I will share with you who those people are. And then come Monday, I will be able to give you a recap of the race and of the weekend's experiences.
 Oh, I'm going to run through these very hilly streets with all I have in me... but no matter what the outcome is... I will celebrate my progress.

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