Confessions of a Reluctant Half-Marathon Runner

I just finished my last scheduled long run of the training season. Then a week of rest, and I’ll find myself on the starting line next Sunday for the 2017 Vancouver (half) Marathon.

I ran the half-marathon successfully last year. Surely it would be no problem and I could run again. Simple. No Sweat, as they say.

Four months ago, I started out with great intentions—to make a statement against human trafficking with Team World Vision. To do the hard thing because there are others out there who don’t even have the freedom to choose the hard thing. To maybe, through my actions, ease the suffering of others.

And last year the goal was hard, but it was attainable. I was healthy for the most part, stayed completely on track with my training schedule, managed to squeeze in runs even when we were on vacation. (Of course it helped that I also took part in a serious 16-week training program, complete with a running coach and a free Garmin GPS watch.)

But no, a repeat of last year was not God’s plan for me this year.

I battled excuses at every single turn. Too cold. Too sick. Too injured. Too sore. Too stiff. Too rainy. Too jet-lagged. My training season was riddled with rehab from last summer’s broken foot, a trip to Hong Kong, a record-breaking drop in temperatures in Vancouver, and the longest actual virus/cold that I’ve ever had (lasting for two months, and still going strong).

The Broken Foot

My ears have been plugged forever, and my nose has been running off my face—which is probably the most consistent running that I have actually done. That old fracture has been bugging me on and off, and I’ve been dealing with sore knees and tight IT bands. Oh, and did I mention jet-lag?

I didn’t realize that signing up for Team World Vision this year meant that I would have to suffer. And that my version of suffering, pathetic as it might seem, was to spend 16 weeks wavering on the edge of defeat.

I pride myself as an industrious, resourceful, hard-working person; yet I find that I am prone to completely losing my willpower and drowning it all in a mass of poutine and bubble tea.

All being said and done, I think I actually missed about half of the scheduled long runs, and about ⅓ of the scheduled runs in between. Not quite the blazing record that I set last year!

I like achievement. I like accomplishing goals. So it’s hard to fight accusing thoughts that this year, I didn’t put my ‘best foot forward’.

On the precipice of failure (will I actually complete this half marathon? Hmmm… questionable…), I’m also at a precipice of fear and decay. I’m face to face with the fact that my 37-year-old body may never be as strong as it was a decade ago.

But because there is a resurrection, I don’t need to hold onto my resources so tightly.

The whole spiralling self-awareness of my own limits also opens up an awareness of the hope that we have in the world to come, and the reason why we press on and fight for justice and goodness.

These weak, slowing muscles remind me that one day there will be no more tears and no more pain.

Does it sting my pride that next Sunday, I may likely limp across the finish line, slow and injured, with burning lungs and protesting muscles—if I make it to the finish line at all? Rhetorical question.

Logic tells me not to risk the race, and just to stay home to nurse my wounds.

The resurrection tells me otherwise. The resurrection tells me that there is one who dragged his cross to an entirely more painful finish line, who headed straight into pain so that the world might have hope and life.

So there you have it, the guts and the glory of half-marathon training this year. Let’s go back to my original good intentions, “to make a statement against human trafficking. To do the hard thing because there are others out there who don’t even have the freedom to choose the hard thing. To maybe, through my actions, ease the suffering of others.”

I have, perhaps, made a statement more about my weakness and God’s strength rather than a statement on the injustice of human trafficking. But the conclusion remains the same, doesn’t it? As long as we have breath in our bodies and strength in our bones, the resurrections gives us reason to choose the hard thing.

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