Saturday, June 12, 2010

Go for the gold!

I am not really a very competitive person. Ok - let me rephrase that - I don't like to compete in things that I don't think I will win. Whether it be scrapbooking related, sports, artistically in any-way - I don't participate in competition normally because I don't want to "lose". That is why in January when I started exercising and running I didn't think I'd ever get into running races. I mean seriously - I wasn't a natural born runner - what was the point if the idea of winning was totally impossible to me?

Now here we are - about 6 months since I started working out and I've been thinking a lot about running, races, winning and ultimately what the point was in all of it.

I went to support Cory in his 10K run yesterday and I just got more and more uptight about the 5K race I'd be running Saturday morning. I watched those awarded with medals, and listened carefully to the times the announcer called out. Wow - these people ran faster than I could ever imagine running! I started listening to that annoying and pesky little voice (a.k.a. the adversary/Satan) in my own head telling me, "You're never going to be as good as they are. Why bother - you're so much slower than they are." You know the whisperings we all hear @ some point or another - telling us we never quite measure up so we might as well not even try?

Then I got wishing that I could wear a t-shirt that said something to the effect of, "Yeah, I might not be that fast - but 6 months ago I couldn't even imagine running a mile - now I'm running in races!!!" I started trying to focus on the PROGRESS I had made and look backward. Not only was I running in a 5K race, I have run several over the last few months. Not only was I going to finish - but I had a goal to run without stopping to walk at all. That was an idea I would have scoffed @ even a month ago. I'm even registered for a Sprint Triathlon for next weekend. That is something that still seems quite nuts - but I'm doing it - and that is huge progress!

So as I drove to the starting place this morning I prayed and prayed that I could quite the negativity and focus on the running. I asked that I would feel light - like I was flying rather than heavy and cumbersome like I had bricks for shoes. I asked that I'd find beauty and goodness as I ran and that I would be able to focus on the progress I was making all over in my life right now. Lastly I asked that this run would be like my 10K in Dallas. In Dallas I felt awesome. At the end I felt like I could have done the 1/2 marathon and I had a total runners high. I wanted to feel light and free like that.

On arrival to the start spot I was frustrated because although I had remembered to charge my ipod, I had brought my Nike+ running tracker and my arm band to wear - I had forgotten my ear phones. Drat! I was looking forward to tracking my time on my ipod. I was really disappointed - I had hoped my music could pump me up when the run was getting harder...I had figured that if negative thoughts creeped into my mind I would shut them up with some Black Eyed Peas or Christina Aguilera cheering me on.

But once I got started I found a new soundtrack to run to - the sounds of others foot-steps. Not just the cadence of my feet, but others around me hitting the pavement was rhythmic and began to feel like music. Then came the harmony - the labored breathing of myself as well as my fellow runners. As we all focused on "good air in - bad air out" our bodies were getting stronger. I found their louder breathing inspiring - helped me breathe more clearly.

At mile marker #1 I realized that the fact my ear phones were @ home was a blessing in disguise - I was feeling very "at one" with my body and my own running rhythm. If I had been jamming to "Eye of the Tiger" or "Lose Yourself" I don't know that I would have connected quite in that same way. I certainly know I wouldn't have caught things like the sound of the rushing water or the cheerful whistling of passing birds. As the volunteer called out our times @ the 1 mile point I knew something was working - I was faster than I normally am! That put even a little more fire in my steps.

The rest of the run went well. The course was mostly downhill and that I'm sure helped my speed and energy. As we came around the corner and the finish was in view I thought for some reason that I had another block to go. When I realized how close I was and looked @ the clock (I was beating my goal by over THREE MINUTES!!!) I knew I had my prayer answered - I literally felt like I was FLYING.

So I didn't WIN the race, or even get a medal - but I felt like I had conquered something so much bigger. I did better than before - I shattered my own personal best. Bigger than that was that I had tried! I had signed up for something hard, I had set a goal and I was reaching it!!! My progress was evident and I felt like a million bucks doing it!

After it was over my friends little boy who also ran it (and won his age group) said, "I prayed last night that I would get a gold medal. My prayer was answered!" I felt like I had won a medal too - not a physical gold one to hang around my neck but an emotional/mental one that will hopefully remind me I did my best and I will continue to progress. That is worth much more than gold!


AleciaJones said...

I love the words that you write! The sounds of other peoples foot steps and their hard breathing is music in it self! Love it!

ct syakirah said...

hi i follow u =)

The Rhiens said...

We're so proud of you, Joanna! You are definetely a gold medal winner in our eyes. You have made such progress. Wow! Thanks for sharing your words and your experiences.

Love, Mom and Dad

Karen said...

I hope I can remember this post while I'm running the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon! Very inspiring!

Kristi said...

So proud of you! I think you're amazing and strong. :)

Kim and Tammy said...

We are proud of you too! You guys are amazing!