It’s been awhile since I have posted on my blog. Thankfully I am done with all my cancer treatment at this time. A year ago I had finished my chemo and was in the middle of radiation when I felt like I needed to start doing something about getting my body back in shape. I felt weak and stiff and was 20 pounds heavier from the steroids. I felt like I was walking around in a fog from chemo brain during the Fall. By January I was starting to feel a little better. I went on diet and lost about half of the weight I had gained during treatment but still hadn’t started any kind of exercise regime. If you recall, I was determined to do what I could to start exercising and still hadn’t really done anything.
When this summer came I knew I had run out of excuses and so I started running…literally. Last September I was aware of a 5K in my town and had set a goal in my head to run in it the following year when I was finished with all my treatment. Am I a runner? Let’s just say that I hadn’t jogged since college. We’re talking over 30 years here. I put an app on my ipod called C25K (couch to 5K). This aptly describes where I was coming from and the direction where I was trying to head to.
It’s a 9 week program that has you train for 30 minutes/ 3 times a week. I figured that was easy enough. It didn’t go according to distance but by time spent training. Day one starts you out jogging for 90 seconds at a time and walking in between. It sounded easy enough until I started training. That first 90 seconds seemed like 90 minutes! I kept looking at my watch thinking the app was broken or wasn’t working. I kept waiting for the voice to say, “Walk.” It was not easy but I was determined to do this.
How long is a 5K? It’s 3.1 miles or it would be like “running across a football field 54.68 times, running around all four bases of a regulation baseball diamond 45.47 times, running the length of an NBA-regulation basketball court 174.12 times or running a little less than 1/4 the length of Manhattan.” As I built up endurance I mapped out a course from my house that increased as the weeks went by. I kept with the program all summer, running mostly in the early morning before it got too warm out (or before too many people saw me). I only had one fall. It was a face plant where I landed on both of my palms in August and my hands are still peeling as they heal. It was on days like that that I questioned myself wondering if I was crazy for starting this in the first place. I also scraped a shin one time rounding a corner too snugly where there’s a low brick wall. Other than that I survived and hopefully didn’t look too ridiculous although one of my son’s friends saw me running when he was stopped in traffic and mentioned it to him.
By the seventh week I was able to jog for 30 minutes but then I started back to work. I wasn’t able to fit in running before work and I was hot and tired at the end of the day. I tried running then but it was too laborious. My training was limited mostly to the weekends. I paid and signed up for the 5K knowing that if I didn’t commit I might back out. A portion of the proceeds were going to help victims from Hurricane Sandy at the Jersey shore. The race was the day after I completed the C25K app. Initially my goal was to run the entire race but I realized I would not be able to. Rather than getting discouraged I changed my goal to simply completing the 5K but I wanted to do it in under 40 minutes.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect at the event. I went to the race way too early. I had to pee and then the only bathrooms they had were quite a distance away. There was probably about 240 racers there and they had some children’s races first. The start of the race reminded me of a herd of cattle initially and was a little difficult with bodies everywhere but pretty soon it starts to spread out. Some move way out ahead of the pack and others trail behind. I was somewhere in the middle, passing some and others passing me. Probably more of the latter.
I was afraid that I might not know where to go but the course was clearly marked and crossing guards and police were at intersections stopping any traffic. I could usually see someone ahead of me to follow as well. Unfortunately part of the course was going up streets on an incline. I chose to briskly walk those parts of the course, taking a breather then.
I crossed the finish line 158th out of 225 racers who finished in under one hour. A small crowd was gathered at the end cheering us on as we crossed the finish! There were more runners but they only record the times of those who finish in under one hour. My time was 38:28.83. I could have pushed myself a little more but chose not to. I had reached my 40 minute goal! My pace was a 12:23 mile and I was happy with what I accomplished. Now I have my own official time to beat should I ever do another 5K. I would like to but the bottom of my feet are really killing me from all the training so I don’t think I will. The following week after the race I started my next goal…Livestrong…a 12 week program at the YMCA. More to come…
Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (NLT). While training for this 5K this verse came to mind often. I learned very quick that even a sweatshirt was too burdensome to have with me if I wasn’t wearing it. Any weight, any excess was a burden and would slow me down. Days when I was having trouble with my ipod or earbuds and was preoccupied with them would slow me down. An uneven sidewalk tripped me up that one time and my injury was bothersome for quite some time. It took a lot of endurance (or some translations read perseverance) to train and run the race. It wasn’t always easy; wasn’t always ideal circumstances, but I had to keep at it in order to reach my goal. There were witnesses not only at the finish line but along the race course as well, watching and cheering us on.
In The Message, Hebrews 12:2-3 says, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls.” We are all runners in this race of life, in our walks of faith. Even in training I had my eyes set on goals along the way…just make it to that tree, the next intersection, to the park, to the cul-de-sac, etc. There will be distractions, things to slow you down or trip you up, hurdles to get over. The good news is that Christ has gone on before us. He’s waiting at the finish line for us! He’s cheering us along on the way! He’s showed us how it is to be done and given us what we need to make it there! He’s marked the course for us. Read your training manual (Bible) and follow it! Don’t be lazy. Hang in there. Get moving and I’ll see you at the finish line.