Monday, November 07, 2016
On Sunday, our Sunday School teacher asked if any of us were now great at something that we previously were terrible at. I raised my hand and said running. He asked what changed, and I gave him the short version, which is essentially that I just had to believe I was capable of being good at it, and then I worked like I could achieve it.
The long answer is this: When I first started I couldn't complete a mile without huffing and puffing. The first time I completed 3 miles I'm pretty sure I either passed out from heat exhaustion or threw up from it. Maybe both. I continued to run cross country during high school, despite not being particularly good at it. I first started because I wanted to do it with my sister Julie who was a senior when I was a freshman. There was no other activity I could have participated in with her, so I did it. I improved enough that I could finish 3 miles without passing out or throwing up, and even ran at the varsity state cross country meet (we were short on runners that year!) but I was never fantastic at it. I felt like 3 miles was the limit for my body type and build, and that I would never be considered fast.
I jogged off and on through college and after we moved to TX, never really challenging my limits on time or distance, but doing it because I knew I needed exercise. I did have one guy (I don't even remember who) in college mention he bet I could run 15 miles if I could do 3 because... once you start you just have to keep going. He really seemed sincere in thinking I could run more. So occasionally I'd throw in a 4-6 mile run here and there.
One time in TX I'd set out to do a 3 mile run and ended up not mapping my course properly and ended up doing more like 6 miles. I ended up as sick as a dog that night. Matt had to carry me to my room because I couldn't walk. I'm sure I was totally dehydrated as it was a hot run and I never carried water or electrolytes with me. Guess what I got for Christmas that year? A water belt. And I still take it with me on even short runs now because of how awful I felt that run. Running with water changed a lot of things for me. I felt so much more capable.
After I had Walter I experienced what I think was un-diagnosed postpartum depression, and when I prayed with real intent and sought to listen, running was one of about 10 things I decided I needed to do to get out of my funk. I found a friend to train with, and we followed a plan to prepare for a half marathon. I thought that would be it for me. It would be my one "bucket list" race. But it felt so exhilarating and I actually quite enjoyed racing. We kept about a 9 min/mile pace. Not amazing, but not bad. I was quite happy with it as we'd been running 11-13 min. miles with our double strollers during training!
When I was wanting to VBA2C with Edward, I had a very, very strong desire and motivation to do everything in my power to be strong physically and mentally to have the birth experience I wanted. I kept running until about 35 weeks then walked/jogged until the end. In effort to induce labor, the day before I had him I went jogging 1.5 miles with my dad and we kept about a 10-11 min. pace. At that point I remember thinking to myself, "If I can run a 10 min. mile at 40 weeks pregnant, I dang well better be able to run a sub 8 min. mile when I'm not!"
I believed it, and I worked like I believed it. As I didn't have much time to run, I focused on making all of my runs short and fast. 2 miles most days. I'd basically practice at race pace every time I ran. And then I started adding a little distance. Eventually I could run repeatable sub 8 min. miles. My fastest half marathon was pace at 7 min. 40 sec / mile. For 13 miles! Not shabby. In TX I won first in my division in multiple races. Here in UT it is far more competitive, and I've been much busier and haven't run or raced as much.
Anyway, at the end of his lesson, he said pretty much any change, be it repentance or over coming trials or individual struggles is a lot like that. It takes the belief and a lot of work. It took me 15 years of running before I believed I could be great at it, and 20 years to get my eventual PR. Why should I get so discouraged when I feel like my parenting or spiritual progress is going slowly? I need to believe progress is possible and then work like it is. Will I fall? Probably. May I end up in the "hospital" (so to speak) like I did once after a particularly hot and challenging race where I wasn't properly hydrated or prepared? It's possible. But that doesn't mean I should give up or that I am incapable of progress.
Weak things can be made strong through Christ.
I am weak in many aspects of parenting. But if I believe I can be strong, if I believe I can improve, and I work to do it, I know I can be better.