Monday, June 1, 2015

Marathon - The Lord is my Strength!

I ran the Minneapolis Marathon yesterday!  It was gorgeous weather - the PERFECT day - and I had the best fan club ever!

I started training in January when long, cold days and nappers kept us from getting out of the house much, and I needed a little extra motivation to get myself to run.  When I run, I get my frustrations out positively and get my endorphins flowing, which in turn makes me such a better, more positive mom and wife!  My only goal was that the training did not take away from kiddo time.  For that reason, I did most of my runs between 5-7am, trying to make sure I was done it time for a shower before Larkyn woke up to nurse. The training plan I followed is Hal Higdon's Intermediate Plan which I really liked.  The midweek runs (Tuesday-Thursday) ranged from 3-8 miles, and the weekend long run started at 8 miles and ramped up to two 20-milers in preparation for the race day's 26.2 miles.

Paul was my biggest supporter and fan!  He had special Daddy-kiddo breakfast on Saturday mornings while I finished my long runs.  He encouraged me when training got tough.  He raced around on race day to see me at many checkpoints!  He is seriously amazing!  One of the things I was most looking forward to about the race was seeing my kids at the finish line.  I love this little family! 

My friend Laura was a huge blessing too, as we did many of our long runs together and had the same goals and similar pace.  She encouraged me with helping me know what to eat on the long runs to keep my energy up as well as being a great running buddy.

A huge thank you to Grandma and Grandpa K and Grandma T and Javonte for taking such great care of our kids the morning of the race so Paul could run around and cheer me on!  They got them up, made them breakfast, and brought them to the finish line along with signs! :).

Here are a few pictures of the race...

This was around mile 21 - I was pretty tired!

I can see the finish!!!
I can see my superfans!

So fun to see them all at the finish!

Even though I didn't meet my goal (hoping to break the 4 hour mark), I did come close (finishing in 4:06:58).   I shaved over half an hour off of my other marathon time from 4 years ago.
Running, for me, has so many parallels to the Christian life and so many parables!  I learn so much from running and from an experience like this!  If I wrote down all of the ones I think of when I run this post would be WAY TOO long, so I will only name the first few that come to mind along with the final pictures I have to share.


I did a fair amount early morning running in the dark.  At first, I relied on the street lights to guide me, but there were some streets without many lights.  Furthermore, when a car came, their headlights were so blinding that I couldn't even see where I was placing my foot (one time this fall actually tripped over a pothole due to this very fact).  Then, I bought a head lamp.  It straps around my head and I can aim it at the ground in front of me, illuminating each step I take - but not too far ahead.   In the same way, "your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).  God's Word, the Bible, tells me the way I ought to act and live and truly sets my perspective straight.  When I am not "wearing the headlamp" (in his Word daily), the headlights in life can blind me to the potholes in front of me that will trip me up and cause me to think about myself, mix up my priorities, or set my mind on earthly things instead of on Him.  However, just as the headlamp only shows me the next few steps clearly, God doesn't show us too far ahead what he has planned for us.  He calls us to trust in him daily for each step and he will guide us.  


As mentioned above, I did one marathon in 2011, however I didn't train with anyone.  This time, my friend Laura and I trained together.  We pushed each other in pace and encouraged each other to keep going.  We had accountability.  In the same way, in our Christian faith, "let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)  This is truly how I see our church.  I know many people who don't see the need to go to church or wonder why we go so regularly.  THAT is why!  Living the life that Christ calls us to live is not always easy, (just as getting up at 4:45am to run an 18 miler !) but having people to encourage and spur us on to love and good deeds helps us to live the life God wants us to.  I am so grateful for my church family.


I personally have been growing in this area of letting go, and letting God take the reigns this year.  I like to have control and I like to do things on my own!  Running is one of those areas of my life that I felt I had control over.  While I can guide my kids, I realized a long time ago that I can't control how my kids act, when they are potty trained, how well they sleep, their health, etc but I felt that I COULD control my own  plan to run a marathon.  Well, in this area of running where I normally am "strong", God pulled out the carpet from under me, so to speak, and made me realize that without him I have NO strength on my own!  I literally can do nothing without him!  At the peak of my training when I was supposed to be doing my longest run, I got the flu.  A nasty long flu!  I barely had enough energy to clean our messes much less run!  I truly wondered as I tried to "hop back on the training plan" at the peak of mileage when I was the weakest, if I would be able to complete my goal.  And it wasn't until I tried to let go, that I realized how tightly I had been holding on.  I realized in that very, very challenging time when MY OWN plans were being rocked, that God gives strength and God takes away strength.  I literally could not run even 1 mile if it weren't for him giving me the strength, and at any point he could take that away to show me my need for him.  From that point on, my training took a different turn and I literally (literally!) would praise God on each run that he let me continue and run that far.  And so, right now on this post, I say not in a cliche sort of way but with every word pre-thought out: "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." (Psalm 28:7)


I have many friends right now who are battling cancer.  Treatment saps energy and strength and suddenly normal tasks take all energy.  This training, for many reasons, has brought these friends to the forefront of my memory and allowed me to pray for them in ways I never would have thought before.  As I literally feel like I cannot take another step and all strength is sapped, I copy the prayers I would have for myself for finishing strong and extra strength to a higher level for them in their race of life.  My prayer for these friends is that God would give them the strength to finish strong and to feel strong until the end, continuing to serve and bless others along the way.  For me, empathy is the strongest call to prayer for others, and this training has allowed me to step inside the shoes of these friends in a small way and pray differently than I otherwise would have, and on a more consistent basis. 
(Isaiah 41:10Fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


There are so many verses that talk about life as a race, and they come so alive after experiencing a race.  Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."   1 Timothy 4:7 says, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."  These verses mean so much more to me having experienced a race like this one, and I pray for perseverance and strength to finish life strong, to the end, serving my Lord and Savior.


Jill said...

I absolutely love this post! I love your diligence and I love your heart as you let God teach you about himself through your long 18 weeks of training. Such great truths and parallels. So proud of you and loved being there at the finish line to cheer you on!

Kristin Bjorklund said...

This is so cool! Like a little devotional! Proud of you for running that marathon - and so fast, wow!

The O'Connor Family said...

You are amazing, Kel!

The Baum Family said...

Love this, Kel!!! I love hearing about what God is teaching you. I love when He uses things we're passionate about to help us grow in our faith! ❤️

Laura said...

Miss running with you!!!!

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