Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's Bigger in My Head

This week has been less than ideal for training. It's been busy. I've been tired. I planned to go today and then got held up at work. Tomorrow is the plan. Apparently we are ditching trick or treaters! But hopefully I'll run. Otherwise the 5 miles on Saturday might do me in. We are a good ways in to training at this point and things are getting serious. Weekly runs (like the non-big ones) are up to 4 miles. (as someone who wouldn't have run a mile 3 months ago, 4 just for the heck of it mid-week still seems nuts). This week is 5 miles, next Saturday 6, then 7, then 8, then a week of reprieve at just 5. HA!

When I start to think about 6 or 7 or 8 miles (let alone 13) I get super discouraged. I think there is NO WAY I can do that much. And yet, the thing I've been learning (apparently it's slow to really sink in) is that I can't focus that far out. I only have to focus on today. If I can do 4 miles one week (which I did a couple weeks ago without much trouble at all) then certainly I can do 5 this week. And then I can worry about 6 next week. But for this week all I need to do is focus on the 5. Which really, means focusing on each interval, one at time, and not even thinking about the 5 until you are finally done with it.

I think that's true for a lot of life. It's definitely true for spiritual practices. We hear about the person who meditates for an hour only to find ourselves restless after 2 minutes and think "I can never do that." But we don't start with an hour. We start with 2 minutes, and then go to 3, and then 4, and then 5, so the increase doesn't seem quite so impossible, and in fact, it becomes downright do-able. Then before you know it, you can meditate for 15 minutes without thinking twice about it.

I also imagine (as I've never had to face the reality myself) that managing and facing chemo happens in much the same way. Six weeks of chemo may seem impossible and ugly enough to not even want to bother, but if you can just get through one treatment and then the next and then the next, it never has to be all at once. It's only one manageble thing at a time.

So, for today, well rather tomorrow, it will be my 3 miles of mid-week. And then I'll wait for Saturday to work on those full 5 miles.

Here's to one step at a time.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Call to Worship, Exodus 20

Leader: The Lord our God seeks to free us from bondage.
People: We praise you and thank you for the mighty things you have done on our behalf.
Leader: God gives us life by giving us rules to live by.
People: Help us to accept your instruction O God, so that we might have life and have it abundantly.
Leader: God calls us to right living so that we might have healthy and whole relationships with God and others.
People: Help us O Lord, to live by your rules without resentment or hesitation. 
Leader: God’s ultimate God for us is wholeness and fulfillment.
People: Help us receive the gifts you seek to offer.  By the power of your name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Others bring you up

In a selfish, self involved, individualistic culture, it's easy to get sucked into the "I can do it on my own" mentality.  Working in the church often spares me from too much isolation, but culture continues to push in the opposite direction. 

Participating in TNT is another counter cultural voice in my life.  Often, when things aren't the way we want them to be in our lives, we hull up.  We self-isolate. And we refuse to share the full truth of our reality. That happens spiritually (we don't want to admit to addiction or sinfulness or back sliding, or a lack of spiritual disciplines) and it happens physically (we don't want to admit bad eating habits, or lack of exercise, or laziness when it comes to our health).  So it's easier to go at it alone, otherwise someone might find us out. 

During the week, I have been training on my own. Not to self-isolate, just because there aren't a lot of team mates in my area and Saturdays are our together day.  And sometimes, on Saturday I'm pushed to run faster or longer than I would on my own.  My team stretches me to be better.  This week, I ran with a teammate who trains nearby and she claimed that she's "slow", well, we weren't running 30 seconds before I knew her pace was a lot faster than mine. She claimed to be a jogger, but she most assuredly was running.  (Where the actual shift from jog to run actually happens, I don't really know).  But she was running.  And I ran with her.  I hadn't stretched properly or done anything the day before and so my calves burned almost instantly and they kept burning.  After one mile I asked to stop and stretch and then we walked mile 2 and then did a mix of running and walking mile 3.  She pushed me to be better.  It wasn't intentional on her part, she didn't set out thinking "I've got to make her a better runner" but her example (and her pace) drove me to up the anty on my own running. 

And that's what community does.  Community that's focused on the same goal anyway.  Community that shares the same values and practices the same disciplines draws us into being better, and that's the way it should be.

Thank you teammates.  Go Team!

If you would like to donate to the cause, click here.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Overcoming obstacles.

I have said it before and I will say it again, I am not a runner.  Running has never been something I have enjoyed or really wanted to do.  And so when I stop to think about what I've embarked on here, it can seem a little crazy.  The two-three miles I do a couple of times a week is not that bad, but 13 miles, that seems totally unrealistic.  Quite frankly it seems darn near impossible!  I try not to focus on the implausible nature of ME running THIRTEEN miles and try to trust that LLS knows what it is doing and will take me there one step/week at a time. 

Nevertheless, sometimes I still get down on all of it.  I come to the end of a walking interval and hear the voice on the computer app tell me, "Start running" and I think "oh shut up, I don't want to run." And then I remind myself, "I do want to fight cancer. I do want to see a cure. I do want people to stop suffering. I do want there to be tangible hope." And so I start picking my feet up a little faster and get back to running. 

This is a challenge.  If I were doing it for myself, I think I might have thrown in the towel a few weeks ago. But this isn't about me. It's bigger than me. And that helps me get over myself and keep at it. 

If you want to help fight cancer, click here to donate.

Monday, October 7, 2013

And then it gets harder

Last Saturday I was able to get out to run/train with the team. It was my first time to meet with the larger group and I only knew one person there. (I was SO grateful I had gone to the street fair a month ago!) It was interesting to be there as an observer, seeing what was happening and how people interacted and what the general dynamics of the group were. As a sociologist, ok, as a sociology major, it was fascinating. We did some warm ups, gave props to the person who has fundraised the most, and heard the inspiring testimony/mission moment from Eddie, who is a cancer survivor. Then we got running. I normally run a 3/1 split (3 minutes running and 1 minute walking) and one of the groups was doing 4/1, so the mentor who was running with me encouraged me to run with them and keep up. I did alright for a good while and had a good time getting to know Eddie along the way. On the way back my muscles started to burn and it was getting harder and harder. I probably could have pushed it, but I've tried not to have a flare up with my asthma as I train. The running didn't feel bad and another mentor stayed back with me to talk about fundraising. Afterward we did stretching and core training and all of it felt good. We ate some snacks, chatted, and got on our way. By 10:00am I was full of energy and feeling great. By afternoon I had a headache and was sore. By evening I was tight and sore and went to bed early. Sunday wasn't much better but I started the day with some stretching and that seemed to help a good bit.

It definitely showed me that I need to step up my game to keep up and that that's a crucial part of getting stronger and better in order to do the race. I'm grateful for a longer term goal that I can focus on so I don't become too comfortable just doing what works and not pushing myself to do more.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why I Am Running

A few months ago, I was talking with Kathleen S, a childhood friend. She was sharing that she has Leukemia and that she takes chemo pills daily and will likely have to for the rest of her life. She was sharing some of the challenges of her illness. She was also sharing some of the blessings of the research and medical advancements. She said that right before she was diagnosed, the statistic for those diagnosed with Leukemia was that within 5 years of diagnosis 80% of patients would be dead. BUT because of the research and advancements that statistic has changed. It has been turned on its head. NOW, the statistic is that within 5 years of diagnosis 80% of patients will LIVE. That's huge. And that is worth fighting for. The way I know how to fight is to run and raise money for a cure. Not just better statistics, but a cure. So I am running, for Kathleen, and the others like her, who have life despite their illness and hopefully will one day simply have life and no trace of illness. Please join me in fighting for a cure!

Some days it's just getting out there

As I write about my journey here, I think it's important to share the bad as well as the good. Or at least the mediocre. I ran a little last week, but not as much or as long as I would have liked. We are across the country visiting and learning from friends before starting a week long mission trip in Maryland.

Today I got out to run. My body has been tightening up and I knew I needed to get out. So I got ready and headed out. It wasn't long into my first run split that I realized I forgot to use my inhaler. I've been without incident when I use it pre-run, but today I felt the burn and ended my run early.

It want the worst that could have happened but not the best either. But at least I got out, right?

When the results aren't there

I started running to train for the Tinkerbell half marathon. I'm running to support those fighting cancer. I've been excited and have thought that a side effect would be getting in shape and losing weight. I was wrong. Well, half wrong. My endurance is better but I'm not losing weight. At all. I'm eating healthier and eating less and indulging less and still no weight loss. It want my end goal but it's still frustrating and a bit discouraging.

As usual, I can't help but think of the theological connections. Sometimes we start a spiritual discipline thinking that we will see dramatic changes in every aspect of our lives. So we start praying thinking we will be healed and our marriage will get better and our bad habits will disappear. But it doesn't quite happen that way not right away anyway. We only notice subtle changes at first. There's no miraculous transformation after just a few short weeks. Major change takes time. And we must be patient.