Week 9::: Halfway to my HALF

Not gonna lie. 
 It's been a rough couple of weeks in the running department. 
 I've battled deep discouragement if you really wanna know. 

Last week we were in Northern Ontario, Canada, where I grew up; 
and where we happened to be there really wasn't more than about a 
100 metre stretch of flat land anywhere in the vicinity. 
And I'm so not lying. 

Heading into vacation I decided it would be "hill training week" 
so rather than attempting to do my 8 mile long run on that terrain, 
[which would be impossible for me] 
I opted for 4 hard workouts up the hills. 
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. 
[Wednesday didn't happen because after Tuesday's run 
my shins/calves were hurting so I listened to my body and took a rest day. 
See Cleary, I'm listening to your training! I really am!] 

My personal goal was to run UP every hill and 
then if I had to walk at the top, so be it. 
I made that goal. 
I'm almost positive that I didn't walk up any hills. 
And that was SO STINKING HARD. 
There were a couple times I thought I was gonna 
have a grabber right there on the top of Mount Whatever. 

My brother, who happens to be a world-class-athlete, 
agreed way ahead of vacation, 
to run with me while we were home 
so that I could keep training and not flake out for the week. 
[Being with family is hard like that because I fall into the 
'let's eat anything and everything and let's not do a bit of exercise, okay?] 

I'm so glad he committed to running with me because had he not, 
I would have hit snooze on my alarm 
and rolled back over in my tent and said, 
"Screw the training! I'm on vay-cay!" 

So I have no good pictures of the hills that we ran, but here's a picture of our clan hiking at one point and this is only ONE of many, MANY hills like this that I ran.
And there near the top of the picture where you THINK it's the top of the hill. 
It keeps going UP. 
And then UP some more. 
And then hit repeat a dozen times
 So on the one hand I felt great about conquering the hills. 
Each day I ran close to 4 miles (with walking interspersed) 
and Day 2 we knocked 10 minutes off our time; another little victory. 

But Day 2 and Day 3 also brought about deep discouragement. 
The first day it was just Lenny and I running. 
Day 2 brought on his wife, Sarah, who's a rock star. 
Love that girl. 
 She's not been exercising. 
Not running. 
Not training for nothin'. 
And she's thin and beautiful. 
Gorgeous actually.

And here she comes out and runs faster than me 
AND is able to run everything I run. 
Which I'm so, SO happy for her. 

And yet I was so discouraged for myself 
because instantly my mind told myself something like this: 
"You've been training for MONTHS 
and this chick comes out here
and can run the same amount as you. 
Faster than you. 
Just give up now. 
Why bother? 
You suck at running." 

And then Day 3 came along. 
And Nicole, 
my dear, dear sister-childhood-friend ran with us 
and she did the same thing as Sarah. 
Ran the same amount as me. 
Same speed. 
Ran the same hills. 
And again, the negative self-talk started. 

And honestly, 
I wasn't viewing it as a competition. 
I could care less if they were faster or slower. 
I just felt like, 
"What is wrong with me that I can train 
for months and I'm THIS slow and THIS bad at running." 

Just feeling sorry for myself I guess. 
I suppose it was pride getting in the way. 
And that never leads to anything good. 

And then I suppose it was just the fact that even to this point 
running is very, very hard for me. I don't hate it.
Actually coming to enjoy it.
But still VERY HARD. Not a natural runner.
Even the flat straightaways of Chicago's side streets are brutal.
There's never a run where I land on my 
back steps after a run and think, 
"Wow, that was a PIECE-OF-CAKE. I'm a runner!" 
Not even my 3 milers. 

Speaking of 3 milers. 
Back in Chicago on Monday this week 
I had my scheduled 3 mile run 
and my thought going into it was 
"This should be relatively easy because last week 
I ran MAJOR hills and they all say 
that running hills makes you a stronger runner." 

Yep. They lied. 

That was probably the hardest 3 miles I've had since day one. 
I cried along the way. 
Had to stop twice to walk because I couldn't push through. 
I was just a hot mess, running down the sidewalk, tears mixed with sweat. 

I wanted to quit. 
First time in this entire journey where I truly wanted to quit.
 As in, call up As Our Own and tell them 
I'm not raising money for Premila. 
As in, tell all my friends and family that 
I'm just not able to run. 
As in, QUIT with a capital QUIT. 

Got home and Jack asked how it went. 
That brought on the tears again as I just told him it's too hard. 
[I wasn't really gonna quit but SO wanted to.] 
He somehow convinced me to not quit and that the next day would be better. 

Tuesday brought with it a 5 mile run. 
And it was still very, very hard. 
But not quite as hard as Monday. 
So I suppose he was right. 
He usually is. 
Ran the whole thing without stopping 
and ran quicker than I've ever run before. 
I guess I have to claim those small victories, right? 

Yesterday's run was a 3 mile run. 
I decided to run the same route that got the best of me 
on Monday and sure enough, 
I ran it faster, 
no stopping, 
and it was a smidge easier. 
[And when I say easier I do want to clarify that it isn't the same thing as easy. 
Never is. But easier.] 

And now, at 8:15pm on Thursday night, 
I sit here on my comfy couch, 
typing out my thoughts, 
nervous about tomorrow morning's 

When I casually mentioned to Jack today that 
I was running 9 miles tomorrow morning his
 first words with emphasis: 

 And then he back-peddled and said, 
"Oh you can totally do it." 
Or something like that. 

 I feel the same way, bud. HOLY CRAP. 
But I'm thankful that 3 weeks ago I ran a 9.04 
(started that blog post but never posted it.). 
So while I'm jittery about tomorrow's run, 
I do know that I've done it once before so I can do it again. 

If you're the praying sort, 
I'd LOVE your prayers tomorrow morning 
between 5:30 - 7:30am (Chicago time). 

I'll be running almost 2 hours. 
In a row. 
Without stopping. 

I think this week I've been reminded again that it's okay 
for something to be hard. 
Really, really hard. 
 Hard is not necessarily bad, 
which is so counter-intuitive for me.
Hard is good. 
And I suppose that's got to be a shift in my thinking. 

I've been reminded that this isn't about comparing myself to anyone else. 

This is my journey where I'm out to do my personal best. 
Not someone else's pace 
or ability 
or their personal best. 
And mine alone.

And again, 
my biggest take away from all of this is 
that I really want to have JOY on this journey. 
Every step. 
Every mile. 
It's my time with God. 
To pray. 
To sing. 
To be fully alive.


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