So I ran 26.2 miles…..

I am in the process of writing my recap of my first marathon…..but until I can wrap my brain around the feelings and get them into words on the page, I’ll leave you with this! Yes….I RAN a MARATHON!!!

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Check back in the next day or two for the full update. Ya’ll, putting this into words is hard. I’m still tear up just writing it. Can’t wait to share it with you.

-Jackie, the marathoner 🙂

Running the Race….physically and spiritually

There’s no hiding that I am a Christian, God is first and foremost in my life, and I make no apologies for that. Next comes my family and after that comes time for things I enjoy, including my running. I’m in a Bible study right now and we’re studying 2 Timothy. In 2 Timothy Paul writes to Timothy about being prepared, as an athlete is prepared, and that an athlete does not “win” unless he competes according to the rules.

When we got to this point in the study we were talking about what attributes make up an athlete. Our teacher said that when she was doing this lesson, she thought of me, and my new endeavor in running and training as an athlete. A what?!? I thought, I’m not an athlete….and then the whole class started throwing out attributes of an athlete on the board and talking about what makes up an athlete.

Here’s a short list of words that were thrown out there: dedicated, passionate, driven, committed, determined, disciplined, patient, persistent, self-controlled, etc., etc. I sat there and listened and thought about the short running journey I have embarked on, coming up on a year in late November. I was almost in tears, because while I’ve never considered myself an athlete, I identified with every one of those words in terms of my running and in terms of my life.

For me running has not come easy. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but it takes all I have at each new endeavor. I’m not a natural born athlete, anyone who knows me can attest to that. I’m probably safer wrapped in bubble wrap, then let loose on a concrete road in shorts, graceful isn’t an attribute I’ve ever claimed, if you know what I mean. But once I began running, something in me desired to keep going, even with it being tough, more often than not. I’ve realized so much about myself and about life when I’m running.

Physically running is so very much like running the race of life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out there running in a race and everything in my mind, my body, my whole being wants to just give up. It’s hard, my legs ache, my lungs burn, I’m tired.

This happened to me yesterday at my race. From the first step I seemed to have a terrible ache in my right side, nothing made it go away and throughout the race it would get worse (to the point of stopping and curling over in pain) and then gradually better, but it never went away. I had 13.1 miles ahead of me and by mile 3 I was hurting so much I had no idea how I could possibly finish the race. At one point I ran right past my car, I could see it and for a split second I thought, I’ll just jump in my car and leave, no one will care. (I didn’t.) and I pressed on….step by step, mile by mile, walking for 10-20 seconds when the pain got too great, until it would let up, then running again. It hurt the whole time. I kept saying, just keep going, you’ll see the next mile marker, just focus on the mile you are in. I prayed, I almost cried, I just kept running….always looking for the next mile marker.

When we hit mile 8, we turned around to run back into downtown Houston and the sun was blinding (forgot the sunglasses.) I couldn’t see anything in front of me. I couldn’t look up, I had to stare at the ground in front my feet and just focus on the steps, I missed mile markers 9, 10, and 11 because the sun was so strong. When we got to mile 12 all I could think was…..so soon that finish line will be in sight, no matter how much it hurts, its so close, just one foot in front of the other, I couldn’t think of anything else. Then it came, I could hear the music and the cheers before I could see the finish chute. I didn’t have anyone waiting at the end to say good job, but at that point it didn’t matter, I ran to finish and finish strong. I did…and I am happy to say I am SO glad that race is over (and my side is still sore today- no idea what’s with that.) 😦

Running that (not so great) race yesterday made me think of life in general as I was running, of those things that come at us in the midst of the “race” of life and hurt so bad we just want to stop. We can’t see the finish line, we can’t see the next mile marker, we are blinded and in the dark. I have been there before, if we are honest with ourselves, we all have. This life is hard, without the hope in Jesus I don’t know how people make it.

If you are in a relationship with Christ, we are told that there will be trials and tribulations, but that we will always be given a way out. But that doesn’t mean we don’t suffer. Our society today teaches that suffering is bad, and that if you are suffering its because you have done something wrong. I’m not going to pretend that I like suffering, who would say that, but I do know that some of my most amazing growth as a person and as child of God has come in times of suffering. I am who I am because I have walked in the darkness. Because I have been there, acquainted with the darkness, I intimately know the light. I stay acquainted with my suffering because of the lessons it has taught me, it has became ingrained in the fibers of who I am. While my human nature is to avoid hurting, I know that suffering produces a result in me that, while its painful to get there, its a gift to me in the end. Just like running that race that hurts to get through, when you cross the finish line, you know you have done well and you take with you the lessons of that run, that trial, and grow from them.

We each have our own race (good and bad ones,) our own darkness and our own struggles. I guess I write all this to say that if you are there, in the dark, running that hard race and that pain keeps hitting you in the side, hang on….the next mile marker is just ahead, and each leads you to the finish line. When you get there, it will be worth it…you may not see it right away, but you will be better, stronger and more capable the next time.

PS- on a side not, I read today that it takes your body 2 weeks to reap the physical benefits of a hard workout. Isn’t that just life….we get to that finish line, but the results take time to come back. Its not instantaneous like we wish…all good things come with waiting. 🙂

Hang in there wherever you are today. If you are in the dark…keep one foot in front of the other, you’ll get there. And if that isn’t you today, join hands with someone who is…no one needs to walk the hard stuff alone, God created us to be in community, to help one another as we struggle, no one is exempt.

That Post Where I Recap all the Races I’m behind on…..

So in an effort to not bombard you with numerous posts for each of my last races that I haven’t talked about…I’ll do a group recap and highlight each of my favorite (or not so favorite) things about my last several races.

Rock N Roll Dallas 1/2 Marathon: 1:57:51 (PR)

I headed up for a weekend in Dallas with my best friend and we met up with 2 of her daughters (which are my sisters for all intents and purposes) 🙂 and we had a fun weekend of catching up and hanging out. We enjoyed a nice meal Saturday night and were up bright and early Sunday for the race. There is a definite perk to staying at the host hotel…you are literally at the starting line and can relax, stay warm (it was chilly) and use the restroom all before heading out to start the race. I hung out and 10 mins before the start headed out with a huge crowd to the corrals and we were off. This course was HILLY, more than I had expected. I had looked at the elevation chart, but still wasn’t prepared for the hills, I’m a Houston girl….flat as it gets! So needless to say it was a challenge to get up those hills, and the minute we crested the top, another one was waiting it seemed. By mile 10 I thought I was done…I was exhausted, my legs didn’t want to climb another hill, but I knew it was just 3 to go….and I hung in there. As we neared the park where the finish line was I glanced at my watch and saw I was getting really close to my time from my first half (I thought I had well passed that time) and I knew with an extra push I could PR. So I RAN….and crossed the finish line with a 8 second PR. I’ll take it. It was a fun weekend, it was awesome to have the support of friends cheering for me (this always gives me and extra UMPH)….and it was GREAT to finish with a PR and all!

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Tri Color Sprint Triathlon: 51:45 (PR)

This was my first ever triathlon….EVER! I had no clue what I was doing. I’d googled a lot, read a lot of blogs, and looked up every Pinterest article on what I thought I’d need to know. I know how to swim, I have a bike and am proficient in riding….and I can run. I mean, lets just combine the three and see what happens. So I entered….on a COLD Saturday morning I showed up at 5:30 to set up in transition (and eye everyone around me to make sure I could figure out what I was doing.) So I set up, lined up and before I could freak out I jumped into a FREEZING cold pool and attempted to swim while hyperventilating from the cold. (I survived.) Then onto a nice bike ride, I enjoyed it a lot…then off to run! Crossed the finish line in 51:something and really had fun! Was about to get my bike once transition reopened and leave and I find out I placed FIRST in my age group. Really?!? How did that happen??? I still don’t know…but it was a really fun moment getting to be on the podium for the first time ever! Tri’s are fun…I have a few more on the schedule already.

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Texas 10 Huntsville: 1:39:01 (PR)

So to complete my craziness, the next weekend….and weekend before my half marathon in Washington D.C., I decided to participate in a 10 mile race in Huntsville. Can we say hills….thats all I can say about the race, we climbed from the minute we left the chute! It was a good race, exhausting….and I set a 10 mile PR. Great last long run before taper week.

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Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon, Washington, DC: 2:02:38

Wow, what a race. This is put on by Nike, so my expectations were high to start, and they did not disappoint. The race course was perfect, starting off with running towards the capitol buildings and past many great sights in Washington. We started at 7AM so it was still cool out and I was excited to run in cooler weather again, but the 2 days of sight seeing before hand made my legs feel like lead from the start. Even still, I kept my pace strong and consistent for the first 5-6 miles. Then it kept hitting me I needed to stop and use the restroom, which all seemed to have lines, so I skipped each one I saw…..however by mile 7-8ish, I knew I had to stop and wait if thats what had to happen. So 5 mins later after a line of about 4 people, I was off again. I was frustrated I’d lost the time, but I felt I wasn’t running my best anyways, so I figured I’d just settle in and enjoy the scenery. I really didn’t even glance at my watch those last few miles, just enjoyed the run and the sights as we turned the corner and headed back into the main streets of DC. I crossed the finish line and looked down at my watch 2:02….4 mins off of my PR. I was frustrated knowing that if I hadn’t stopped I would have had a great time, but it was still an amazing race and I LOVED my little blue box at the finish line. Nike knows the way to a woman’s heart! I would love to do another Nike Women’s race at some point, a great all around experience.

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Becoming Me

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From the time we are born we begin a process of becoming…. I am 32 years old and some days I realize I am learning who I am and there are moments I feel at home in my own skin. It’s funny to me to write that, but if most of us were honest with ourselves we spend a lot of time being someone we’re not, or just not quite feeling like we know who we really are. We all have labels. For example, I am a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a follower of Jesus, a runner. I could go on and on of the labels that I am. These are concrete for the most part, I understand my role and who I am to be in each of these positions. But then there is the me that doesn’t quite fit into a nice neat label. Here are a few things I’ve been learning about myself.

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-I am learning to love my body for the strength it possesses, not the number on a scale. This is hard, I’m not going to lie. But realizing that a number will never make me a different person is freeing. This is a daily struggle I have to let go of, but with most things…as time passes it gets easier.

-I can be insecure. If you met me, you’d think I was loud, always happy, and super confident. I give off this vibe to most people, but if you really knew me you’d know that I am pretty insecure about a lot of things. I’m getting better at this, but just keeping it real. I have a very real fear of rejection…and as I’ve learned this I understand some of my relational behaviors better. It helps me to grow as a person and the first part of changing is identifying the problem, right?!?

-I’m not nearly as extroverted as I once thought I was. I love to talk. A lot and LOUD if you know me. But over the past few years I have learned the value of begin a listener. Sometimes you don’t need to offer words back, sometimes just an ear at the other end of the phone line is better than any words you have to offer. I have learned to value quietness in my life. As a mother of two young kids, this can be rare….but that makes it all the more precious to me. We all need time to recollect and refresh ourselves.

-I’m an annoying optimist. I’ve always been a positive person, but I realize that I ALWAYS have to find the good in a circumstance. If you don’t want to hear the bright side of any situation, you probably should find someone else to tell it to, I will always find a silver lining. As I told someone the other day…my track record for surviving a bad day is 100% so far. I mean, can’t get much better than that. If its rough, it will eventually get better…just hang in there.

-I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m loyal to a fault. These two things can set you up for much heartache, but I’m learning that most heartaches are worth it for the chance to love and be loved. I also hide my feelings behind a smile, it’s not that I’m being fake, it’s that I ALWAYS smile. Like, ALWAYS! Even in the midst of a super hard, exhausting cycle class or boot camp, I’m smiling. Yeah, something is wrong with me 🙂

-I’m learning that I want to be known. Not the me I put out there, which is slowly lining up with the “me” I’m realizing I am, but the real me. I want some to know my heart, my joys, my fears, my dreams. To know and be known makes life so much sweeter.

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As I learn more about me, and feel comfortable being who I am, its funny to watch the masks that drop away in my everyday life. There have been times I’ve felt like I’ve walked around with multiple personalities trying to be a different me to different people. It’s exhausting, confusing, and I felt like a fraud. I never felt comfortable just being “me.” I didn’t know if I’d be accepted, the fear of rejection is strong and I’d rather pretend to be someone I’m not than be rejected for who I truly am.

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As these walls start crumbling, starting with just being truthful about who I am and who I’m not…more often than not these days I feel like I’m learning to be who I really am, learning to accept myself as I am, love myself as I am….and I have learned that those who truly love me and want me in their lives will still be there. If they are not, then in the long run I’m better for it because they couldn’t accept me for me. Becoming an adult is freeing in some ways when you realize that so much of the stress you live under is self-imposed.

Hi, I’m Jackie….I am definitely a work in progress and you can either love me as I am….or don’t. It’s your loss

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