One week. That's all. A week from today I will cross the finish line of marathon number 4.
I'm not going to lie, a couple of months ago I was doubting whether or not I could make it through the rest of training... during every run. Not just small moments during a tough run, it was every night when I would go to bed knowing I needed to wake up at 6AM to run, and every morning when my alarm would go off, and that first mile that takes me to the lakefront, and the miles on the lakefront. I kept thinking, "It'll go away. I'll get excited. It's worth it." But most of the time I really felt like it wasn't worth it. I felt slow, and sluggish, the passion I have for running felt distant. After a really tough run I texted my Dad and complained for the millionth time about the heat, the humidity, the miles, his response was, "Summer's tough, the runs are hot and humid and they aren't fun. But these are the runs that make you stronger." It was just what I needed to hear, I continued to remind myself mid-run (or on mile one,) that these runs were making me stronger. Another thing he reminded me of was that the moment September came and fall weather started creeping in, running would feel entirely different. BOY WAS HE RIGHT!!! That first cool day I was on top of the world, then the 90 degree weather creeped back in and thankfully promptly left within a couple of weeks.
The biggest game changer during training was a 16 mile run in early September. Friday evening I looked to my Saturday morning schedule at work and my client had cancelled and I suddenly knew I had to ask for the morning off so that I could run with Team World Vision. This is my second year running for World Vision and I had NEVER ran a group run with them due to my work schedule. Going from running alone in a hot humid summer, and training nonstop for a year, to running in the most encouraging running group I've met was a HUGE deal. It pushed me, it reminded me why I am running for World Vision, and it reminded me how much I truly love running and the community within the running world. I felt a renewed sense of excitement about the marathon, I was ready to train for 26.2, which was a good thing because my 20 mile run was the following weekend. Just before I did this group run I also began doing speed training at a track with my friend Juli, she pushed me and made me realize I am capable of a lot more in my speed workouts than I was doing. It was a confidence boost, an adrenaline rush, and I gained a good friend and training partner through it. (Sidenote: we met by sitting near one another at a coffeeshop in the neighborhood- talk about God working in our lives!!)
Something that I have always loved about running alone is it gives me space to think, to quiet my life, and most importantly to spend time with God as I log my miles. I've got to be honest, there were a lot of runs that I became a pouty little kid and thought it was unfair to feel the way I did during my run and I didn't turn to God once. It changed how running felt for me, it felt forced, exhausting and lonely instead of exciting, life-giving, and renewing. Guys, prayer is powerful, intentionally spending time with God is important, and the moments where you turn away from that time feel not awesome. I learned a lot throughout training this time around, but the most important thing I learned was the moment I take God out of running it's a game changer- and not a good one.
So there's my babble about struggling this time around and the game changers that completely changed my attitude to be anxiously excited about crossing the finish line of 26.2 for the fourth time next Sunday.