I trained for my first half marathon throughout the summer of 2011, and ran the first annual Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend. I was so proud when I crossed that finish line because I had never worked toward a goal like that in my life (most of my goals were academic, not athletic) and I ran the whole race. It wasn’t important what my time was.
The following May, I decided at the last minute (actually two days beforehand) to run in the 500 Festival Mini Marathon, which was a blast, and got a shiny new PR! (That’s “personal record” for all you non-running folks.) Again, I was so excited. I remember my dad congratulating me but also reminding me that I wouldn’t always be able to get a PR.
But then I ran the Indy Women’s Half in summer 2012, and I got a PR. And then got another at the 500 Festival Mini in spring 2013. I came to take it for granted that I would always improve. I was running 10 miles every Saturday morning like it was my job (which, by the way, I am not even close to being fast enough for it to be my job.)
Then, in early July 2013, I suffered a bad high-hamstring strain, which I was told can take months to heal. And it did. I didn’t run for two months, but I did complete the Indy Women’s Half just to prove I could, even if I walked and jogged. I was proud of that determination. I felt that all my training would get me back to where I wanted to go.
Here I am, a week away from my sixth half marathon. I went on a 10 mile training run this morning and it sucked. I realized that I again won’t PR next week. I won’t run my goal pace, or even my recently modified goal pace. My thoughts ranged from, “Why is this so hard? I used to go on 13 mile runs for fun!” to, “If I die today, I won’t have to run next week.”
I’m embarrassed to say that even though I knew how to stop these negative thoughts, I gave into the ease of emotionally beating myself.
At the end of the run, I cried. I wanted to punch things. I whined to Nick about the unfairness of it all. “I suck. I’ve been working so hard! I know I’m capable of so much more…why is this so hard? I’m so frustrated that all my hard work is not paying off!”
Hard work doesn’t always pay off the way we want it to. This is true in all walks of life. How often do we much put enormous effort into a job or a relationship and not get back what we expect?
Yes, it is frustrating, but I need to take a step back and realize there’s something greater at work. If there’s anything I’ve been learning in the last year, it’s humility. Running half marathons used to be easy for me, but this time around it’s not. My hard work is not accomplishing what I want right now, but life is on God’s time. I have to keep believing that if I keep persevering, God will have great things in store for me.
I’m also humbled by thinking how far I’ve come in recent months. I feel like I’m starting from scratch with this half marathon, but that’s not true; before my first race I was healthy, before this race, I suffered a string of minor injuries. I’m thankful for the small miracle that all the scar tissue from my knee strain is finally gone. I need to remember that there was a time not too long ago when I didn’t know when I’d be able to run again.
There’s a pose sometimes done in yoga called Humble Warrior. This might seem unusual, but I like to think of one who is willing to fight for what he or she wants, but willing to put aside his or her desires for the greater plan. It’s difficult to be a humble warrior, but perhaps this is my next challenge.