Thursday, May 16, 2013

Relying on His Strength Alone

Eleven days ago, I ran my first half marathon. It was the most exciting I've ever done!! My goal was to finish in under three hours and run the entire way without stopping. I crossed the finish line at 2:21 and ran the entire way! Over the course of the last four months, I trained, I got hurt, I was frustrated, I failed, and I relied on the strength of the Lord more than I ever had before. A year and half ago I ran a 5K and it was fun but really hard. When I started getting into running I told myself that I want to run a half marathon before I graduated from Biola. It seemed like a pretty lofty goal and I secretly thought I'd never reach it. In January, I decided that I was going to register for OC Half Marathon. After I registered, I sat on the couch and thought "This is the stupidest thing I have ever done. What was I thinking? You've never run more than three and half miles at a time before and your measly little one mile run was brutal this morning." Needless to say, I never thought I could do it. I did not run much last semester so starting up running again this year was difficult. On January 2 I couldn't even run a mile without dying. I found a 16 week training plan and it helped me gradually increase my milage.
Throughout the course of my training, God so graciously surrounded me with amazing people to encourage and help me. For this first race, I did not do it with anyone or train with a friend. At first I thought this would be hard because I did not have anyone to drag me to the track early in the morning or motivate me on long runs but I found this time to be a perfect time to talk to God. I also learned that I prefer to run without music so I can focus on my breathing and praying. Before I started my training, I talked a lot with my friend Jeremy who runs like a crazy man, my high school calculus teacher who ran her first half in February, my best friend who used to run cross country, and her sister who is also a seasoned runner. These people were so encouraging and I am so thankful for their help and insight. When I started my observations, an aide who works with a special needs student in the class told me that she was running the LA Marathon and it was great to get advice from her too! Training was hard and the first week when I had to run 6 miles I thought I was literally going to die. Before each run, especially the long runs, I prayed and asked God to help because I knew there was no way I was going to be able to do it on my own. Each week as my milage increased, I was amazed that I had made it as far as I did. After each mile I would track how far I ran, how fast I was going, and if I liked the run or didn't or any other things I wanted to remember about the experience. Surprisingly, my shorter runs (2, 3, or 4 miles) were more difficult than my longer runs because I thought I could complete short runs relying on my own strength and each time God reminded me that I couldn't.
After about a month and half of training, I got hurt and had to take a break. I was so worried I wouldn't be able to run the race. After lots of foam rolling, prayer, ice, and rest, I was able to slowly begin running again. On April 3, I ran 12 miles, my longest run during my training. Then after that, from extreme pain in my knees and legs, and being busy with Chrysalis, RA, and a TPA, I had to take another two weeks off from running. With less than a month to go, I was starting to worry if I would be able to finish this thing. 13.1 miles sounded so daunting! And my 12 mile run was killer, how was I going to add another 1.1 miles onto that? I started doing runs on the treadmill and pushing myself but I still thought it would be difficult to finish in under 3 hours if my 12 mile run took me 2:45. But with God by my side, I was able to finish almost 40 minutes fast than I thought I could!
Because I did most of my training without music, I didn't want to bring music with me on race day. I am so glad that Ari had me make a playlist just in case because I turned it on about mile 3 and listened to it the rest of the race! Right after I had reached mile 3, I was so overwhelmed by God's grace and faithfulness and goodness and sovereignty and blessings that I started crying and was in awe of where he has brought me this semester. I couldn't believe that I was actually there running a HALF MARATHON!
The journey of training and running was long and hard but so great at the same time! The Lord taught me that I must rely on his strength always and in all circumstances. I found that my days were so much better when I started it with a run. I loved the feeling of wind in my face and breathing deep and hard as I ran. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have run this race and glad that God has blessed me with a body that can run and bring glory to him!
On October 13, I will be running the Long Beach Half Marathon and I'm excited that I'm running with friends this time!

SOOOO thankful for my family who had a busy weekend and had to get up super early to come and support me. It meant so much to me:)

Even though she is busy with school and doesn't like getting up early, I so glad that Emily got to come and be there when I finished! Hopefully we can run one together someday:)

My best friend and my inspiration to start running, Ari, motivated me to push myself and made me meals after my long runs at the beach and encouraged me every step of the way! Excited to run October with her!!

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