Friday, August 30, 2013

My First Ever TEN MILE RUN. {It's done and I lived to tell about it}

God's been up to some work in my life this week, starting with Sunday's sermon on being a loved daughter of God, who God delights in and takes great joy in. And the reality is, His love and delight and joy in me is not contingent on what I DO or what I HAVE or what others think of me.

Especially in high school, but probably even through the time I had kids, a huge piece of my identity was that I was an athlete. And a very good one at that.

It's in the genes. Both sides. I have a first cousin that played semi-pro basketball and had he not gotten swallowed up by drugs and alcohol and eventual jail, he had the potential to go pro. They say he was that good.

When I was in 8th grade I ran track against a girl who had WON the 200 meter in all of Canada for our age, and guess who kicked her booty in the 200 meter at our little regional meet. ME.You see, I'm a sprinter. Not a long distance runner. {Until now that is!}

When I was in 11th grade we moved to the big city ( I use that term very loosely, coming from rural, RURAL Northern Ontario, Canada) and in walks this country bumpkin to a well-established team that had been together since 9th grade and had gone to Provincials the year before. Guess who walked on as top point guard. ME.

(And this is where my anger issues began

because the coach's favorite player was the point guard and he hated the fact that I was better than her. This could be a WHOLE huge blog post and I might post about it some day.)

But suffice it to say, he'd start her, we'd start losing the game. HE'D HAVE TO CAVE AND PUT ME IN. {I WASN'T ENOUGH IN HIS EYES.}

I'd walk on the court and we'd win. And I hate to even tell that story but it gives you a picture of my athlete world. And I'll be honest; it was ugly. I was ugly.

At the start of the game I'd sit on the very end of the bench with my warm-ups on. He'd finally say, "Correll, get in there." I would walk SUPER SLOWLY From the end of the bench and would look at him and give him this evil 11th grade eye and I'd drop my warm-up pants and sweater right at his feet. And then I'd saunter on to the check-in table and when the whistle blew I'd say "Put me in." And then probably every first play that I was in,I'd steal the ball and go in for a lay-up, score, and then I'd turn to the coach and give him this, "YOU'RE AN IDIOT LOOK." Just to PROVE to him that he'd made the wrong choice by starting the other gal. Awful. I know. An 11th grader who was proud. Immature. Wounded. Angry and not knowing how to deal with it all. Devasted really.

Devastated because this was the first time in my life that I can remember that I wasn't liked. At all.He hated me. I was in a new school. No friends. I hated that we had to move from away from Thessalon. I was sad and angry and hurt.

As a freshman in college I walked onto the volleyball team and made first string/line {and it's been so long ago I can't even remember what we called it.} And the whole time I was playing volleyball that semester, the college basketball coach kept asking me to commit to playing basketball. But I couldn't, because I had to work and pay my way through college. I kept telling her if she could come up with a scholarship for me so I didn't have to work, I'd be in!


I don't share those stories to say, "Look at me I was all that."


So you can imagine, that when a middle-aged Mama of two, --who hasn't lost much of that baby weight if truth be told --laces up her running shoes, the mental mantra she tells herself is HUGE.

She REMEMBERS and lives in her past glory days of how speedy she was and how she could win at any sport she tried. Always. AND WITHOUT EVEN TAKING ONE STEP IN HER FANCY RUNNING SHOES, SHE FEELS LIKE A FAILURE.

Because, well, slow is failing.IN HER MIND. Walking is failing when you're supposed to be running. IN HER MIND. Not winning at a sport is failing. IN HER MIND.Other people passing and being faster is failing. IN HER MIND.


Anyway, you get the picture?

So when April 15th rolled around and I had to begin running so that I could try to run with Maddie on June 1st, the anxiety set in. The fears set in. FAILURE WAS EMINENT IN MY MIND.Why? Because I was operating on the premise that if I couldn't DO the run without walking then I was a failure.

I'd say I'm rather performance driven, yes? I'm working on letting that go. I promise. I know, I have issues.I know.

Part of the beauty of the last few months of running has been that I've slowly come to the conclusion that I AM ENOUGH.

Whether I can run this race on October 20th or not. GOD IS DELIGHTED WITH ME when I wake up early and head out the door and talk with him through the whole run. HE FINDS GREAT JOY IN MEand even takes my hand along the path when we run and I need to stop for a drink or a rest.


So you ask how this played out in my first ever DOUBLE-DIGIT run this morning.

First off. TEN MILES IS A LONG WAY. And even longer (psychologically) when you know how far North Avenue is from Montrose Harbor.As Jack said last night, "HOLY CRAP." I wish he'd stop saying that.Freaks me out.But you see, he can visualize Montrose to North and then on up to Foster and back to Montrose.IT IS FAR.

Yesterday, partly due to PMS and mostly due to nerves/fear/anxiety, I had a cry session over the phone with my close friend and running coach, Cleary. It's amazing how God uses friends to touch us. I got off the phone with her, knowing that it was okay to walk today if I needed to walk. That the heat really is a HUGE factor. That even if I walked today that doesn't mean that I'll do lousy during my actual half marathon in October. She was a massive encouragement to me and God used her to help put my heart at ease.

And then last night, I asked for prayer on Facebook and people from all over the globe chimed in and honestly that has such a powerful impact on me.

And I cried a bit on Jack's shoulders before I went to bed, and he said he knew I could do it. And that brought much comfort. [ I'm crazy about my husband. He is the perfect right boy for me and I thank God often for Jack. But I digress.]

I WASN'T ALONE RUNNING THIS MORNING.Lots of you had committed to praying me through and I felt those prayers. And this morning, my dear sweet Adrian texted from Nevada saying she thought I could do it. And my friend Jamie texted saying the same thing -- she believed in me, that I could do it.

And I pulled up and Becky, my dear, dear friend and training partner was there, ready to tackle this together.

AND THEN, THE ONE WHO NEVER LEAVES ME WAS THERE. Right beside me. The whole ten miles. We didn't take one step apart from each other and there were a few times when I wanted to stop early He grabbed that sweaty hand of mine and pulled me along. At least in my mind He did.

AND HE EVEN TOOK OUT HIS CRAYONS AT ONE POINT AND DREW THIS AMAZING RED BALL OF FIRE ON THE HORIZON. [ I didn't take this photo but found it on the internet and it's similar to what we saw this morning ... Photo credit:]

And wouldn't you know, that ball of fire followed us for quite some time. It was so magnificent that there were all sorts of runners and bikers stopping along the trail with their phones out, snapping photos of it. I imagine Facebook was littered with Chicago's red sun this morning. If only I had a camera. But I don't need one because I won't forget that sun for a long time.

He gave that gift to me. And to Becky. And to all those who stopped to look. He cares. He loves me. Whether I walk or run or do a nifty balance of both.

We ran the first four miles without a stop. At that point it was for sure water time so I guzzled water and started back north. By then the sun was full on and it was hot. As in sweat just pouring off of me hot. Gross.

Between miles five and eight I stopped a few short times to drink water and then I'd ramp it back up and run again. The stops were short and not many and that felt really great.

And IF I had to guess, at the moment where I decided to start running again each time, I'd bet a million bucks that one of you was praying for me. I believe that with all my heart.

At one point between Fullerton and Belmont, Becky headed on out ahead of me so I was all alone and out of NOWHERE this boys track team (maybe from a local college?) just came flying by me -- some to my right, some to my left and I actually screamed out loud because they were stealth like on their approach and then before I knew it they were gone in a flash. It was crazy. Maybe I should turn down my headphones?

Miles 9 and 10 were hard, but Becky and I ran those together and we pushed through and did it.


A huge milestone for me.

Not only in the length of the run but in the spiritual/mental/emotional realm. I've never been prouder of a run. And I've run 9 miles two separate times, both without stopping. And I'm proud of those runs. But this one brought along with it some freedom. Freedom to be me. Who I am now, and not who I was at 12 and 16 and 18 and 20. Alysa at 44. Alysa with extra weight that she's trying to lose. Alysa who's wanting to run a race for herself and her relationship with God. And for a little girl named Premila, in India, who needs to know that she is lavishly loved by her Heavenly Father.

In the end, it doesn't matter if I walk, crawl or run across that October 20th Half Marathon finish line. Really, it doesn't. And believe me it will be emotionally hard if I don't run the whole thing as that is my goal and my heart's desire.

But in the end, the fact that I am doing the hard work to train for a half marathon is more important than what the internet will say about my final race time.

What I think matters the most is the actual journey TO October 20th's starting line.

And as I line up with 1000s of others on October 20th, waiting for the starter's gun to go off, I get to live in the freedom and victory of the months and months of training that has gone before the race.

The race itself is just the victory lap, as my dear friend Cleary says.

So I sit here at my kitchen table and it's only 10:30am. AND I'VE ALREADY RUN TEN MILES. THAT IS CRAZY MY FRIENDS. DOWN-RIGHT-CRAZY!


And I was going to end this post with that verse ... and THEN,I popped on Facebook and NOW I'm sobbing. I went to bed early last night (although it took me 2 hours to get to sleep last night) and saw that many more of you commented that you were praying(I don't get on Facebook before I head out the door to run).

And my running friend Christi started praying for me before I even started to run. She said, "Starting your prayer journey early." I love that. Thank each of you dear, dear friends. You have no idea how that touches me on such a deep level. Thank you for the time you invested in me, this morning. Makes me feel so, SO loved. And Ellen, I'll be praying for you tomorrow morning as you tackle your 12 mile training run for World Vision. Your heart is beautiful! [Anyone else wanna join me in praying for her tomorrow morning?]
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