Sunday, July 31, 2011

Half Marathon Number Three

It's Training Week 1! For the next 14 weeks, I'll be training for the Savannah Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon. Training requires discipline, focus and commitment. It also requires believing in yourself and in your goals. When I started this running journey, I had no destination in mind. I had a goal and decided to attempt to reach it. But in this year of running, I've learned more than how to be an endurance runner. I've learned how to follow God.

As I'm planning my goals for this upcoming training season, my most important goal is to Believe. If you don't Believe, then how can you expect to reach or attain your goals or the thing God has placed into your spirit? Believe. That's my motivation and my motto for this training season. Believe in God. Believe in Self. Believe.
Over the next 14 weeks, I've decided to select a scripture for each mile of the race to motivate, encourage and inspire me to the finish line. Week 1 is stamina training:

Mile 1" I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13 (NKJ)

Gratitude Journal
I am grateful for hot chamomile tea.
I am grateful I can hope and pray.
I am grateful for girlfriends.
I am grateful I know how to cook.
I am grateful for the things in life that test you.
I am grateful that I have courage to try and not stop running.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


With each half-marathon I've completed, the training and races have brought forth new perspectives and  revelations for me. I'm beginning a new training season. During this past year of running half marathons and training, I've realized how my running mirrors my spiritual walk. Now, God is revealing to me my ability to push myself. It's often said that people give up just before the breakthrough. When I'm running, the last few miles are always the hardest. Sometimes my legs feel like logs (or a sack of bricks). It's miserable. My legs feel heavy and it takes so much energy to get one foot in front of the other. There are some runs when I can't catch my breath or my breathing feels out of control and it scares me. I don't like that feeling so I back off. I've even walked to try to catch my breath. Once I feel like I'm back in control then I can try running again. Recently, Joel Osteen's words are in my mind, "Don't make a permanent decision based on a temporary feeling." Some personal trainers insist that their clients feel the burn. I've never operated under that theory. I push to failure or fatigue depending on how I feel that day. Again, those words ring in my head, "Don't make a permanent decision based on a temporary feeling." As a runner, I'm never going to get better until I push through that momentary fatigue, weakness and pain.
PUSH. I've heard it before. Jada, you don't PUSH yourself. PUSH. Memories flood my mind of my mama's words about applying myself and not settling for that B grade, I STILL Want That A. Jada, just PUSH yourself a little bit harder and a little bit longer. Stop running with doubt because of the way you feel right now. This feeling is temporary. So, PUSH. When you feel like stopping and giving up, PUSH harder. Running is teaching me so much about myself. During the times when I am flat out exhausted, I find if I keep going there is always just a little more in me. I just needed to PUSH. Maybe, that's what it means to activate your faith. My revelation: Activating your faith is digging down so deep inside and pulling out something that you didn't know existed. God in his infinite wisdom planned our lives and allowed situations and circumstances to PUSH us and bring forth his purpose in us. What's the saying? "Without struggle, there will be no progress?" Well, sometimes God has to force us into a place that doesn't feel good. Before I started running, I couldn't imagine running five miles not to mention running 13.1 miles. Running a 5K felt good. It wasn't too hard. It was something I could handle. Had I stayed comfortable only running a 5K, I would not have realized my strength and my endurance to run a longer distance. I know the heavy feeling and running on empty. I know the feeling when your breath is out of control and you just feel like you have to stop. I also know you shouldn't "make a permanent decision based on a temporary feeling." If we give up too soon, we'll never see the purpose realized or the revelations give birth. We'll be just like the people of Israel walking in circles in the wilderness.
In the last few weeks, my running has taught me that it's time to PUSH. It's time to dig in deep and block out the insecurities and PUSH. I'll never realize my potential or my purpose if I run only in my comfort zone. There is a story in the Bible about the woman with the issue of blood. As she pushed her way through the crowd, she pressed on and pursued her healing miracle. The Bible says that when she touched Jesus, she was immediately made whole. Jesus asked His disciples, "Who touched me?" But the disciples were very baffled and said to Him, "Master, look at the crowd around You and You ask, 'Who touched me?'" "No," He said, "someone has touched me with faith because virtue has left My body" (see Mark 5:30-31). As she touched Jesus, God rewarded her. The Bible says that she came forward and confessed everything, and then Jesus said to her: "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace" (Mark 3:34, NKJV).
The woman with the issue of blood had one goal in mind – to get healing. By faith, she PUSHED her way through the crowd towards the one who could heal her, Jesus. Today, I've decided to PUSH. I've decided to PUSH myself and run outside my comfort zone. I know the end result will be a better, stronger, faster runner.
Push Forward, Push Past. Push (andPray) Until Something Happens.

Reference: Press Toward the Mark

Gratitude Journal
I am grateful for the journey.
I am grateful that I have felt the fatigue and felt the burn.
I am grateful I am ready to PUSH.
I am grateful that I had to learn to PUSH. 
I am grateful for the wonderful God I serve.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Here I AM

I like to run. On most days, I love to run. On other days, I really don't know how I feel about running. After my second half-marathon, I went through a period of discouragement. I was tired; tired of the running; tired of the sacrifice; tired of the early mornings; tired of the preparations; and, tired of people counting on me to get things done. I think I lost my passion. I let weariness set in in more ways than one. Just last week, I found myself saying, " Lord, I'm tired." I'm tired of the demands and the stress and the need to keep everything together. I'm tired. I haven't been blogging much and I have been neglecting my dedicated prayer and quiet time. This break in my quality time with my Heavenly Father caused me to slip into a place I don't want to go or like to be in. Today, while working out, I listened to a Joel Osteen podcast entitled; Your Second Wind is on the Way. How befitting a title and a message! On Saturday's group run, the comment was made that at the end of my run, I seem to come up with this "kick". I perfect my running stride, my running form and the last meters look effortless. Where does this come from? I've been conditioned and trained to finish strong.

Joel Osteen's sermon made some good points and also referenced running as examples. Sometimes, you are tempted to give up. Sometimes, you allow fatigue to set in and you grow weary and stop pushing and stop trying. But, he reminded me, it's at those times, when you must fix your eyes on the prize and keep pressing. Press your way through the pain. Press your way through the uncomfortable feelings. Press your way through the miles ahead. There were times during training, when I thought my chest would explode and my lungs were on fire. I remember my first training days when I was so tired I couldn't think straight. Everything below my waist would hurt, but I would show up and run even though all I wanted was just one run not to hurt so badly or leave me feeling so sore afterwards. By the time I starting training for half-marathon number two, I noticed my body didn't feel that bad. I could complete a nine-mile run and not have to take a 3-hour nap! My body was becoming stronger. I didn't realize the subtle changes initially, but after a while the hills didn't feel the same. The miles didn't tear me down. The track workouts didn't leave me ready to kick rocks and be done. Training was preparing me ~ breaking me down yet building me back up stronger, renewed and restored.

I'm recognizing each training session was a season of preparation and difficulty. It was designed to push my endurance. It was a time of pushing my body to limits that I didn't and I still don't like. It was a time of running hill repeats, track workouts, tempo runs and long runs. It was a time of learning to run on tired legs. There comes a point when fatigue sets in, but you have to keep running. I've started to notice that I have a tendency to shuffle my feet when I'm tired; my posture changes and my stride changes. I can't afford to drag my feet. It cost me time and it costs me energy --wasted energy. I think I get that extra kick because I can sense or see that the end of the run (or race) is near. On my tired and fatigued legs, I force myself to get it together and correct my stride. That's my extra kick, that second wind that Joel Osteen preached about. When you see me at the end of a race and most runs, you wouldn't realize the struggle I just went through. You can't see the pain I had to push through. You only see the makings of a runner with good form and a beautiful stride.

I'm "preparing" for my third half-marathon and about to start training in two more weeks. My attitude is different. See, I've run, made it through, two half-marathons all ready. It wasn't easy. It didn't feel good. It was difficult. At times I questioned myself and my ability. But, I made it. I made it through 13.1 miles. I'm running half-marathon number three on faith. This course will be one that I will not get to preview first so I can't prepare for the hills ahead or get ready for the straight-a-ways and curves. I must rely on my faith to get through and my determination not to quit. Tired is just a mindset. It's just a battle of the mind. God has given me strength to attack the uphills, navigate the downhills and cruise through the straight-a-ways. It's not about looking ahead and figuring out the course of the 13.1 miles. It's about using my strength and His power to get through each mile without growing weary or faint. I'm taking one mile at a time, and allowing (trusting) God to renew my strength for the miles ahead. This Runner Girl is running the miles ahead on faith and finishing strong.

Quitting is a permanent decision based on a temporary feeling.
God has given me the grace for the season I'm in.
~ Pastor Joel Osteen

Gratitude Journal
I am grateful for electricity.
I am grateful for God's grace.
I am grateful I can run a mile.
I am grateful that God is my comfort, my strength and my refuge.

Here I AM by Marvin Sapp