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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Race

We had an interesting morning today.  Phillip's truck would not start so, rather than lose a day of work, I loaned him my car.  While it meant that the kids and I were then homebound, something I hate and fear after a year or more of isolation in Red Rock, I knew we could survive it.  We had nowhere we had to be today and plenty of food and essentials in the house.

It was, however, the first day of fall storytime at our local library.  We love storytime and have a small group of friends we regularly meet there.  I really didn't want to miss it.  So, seeing as I live pretty much exactly one mile from the library, I decided to load the littles up into our double stroller and walk.  Yes, it's hot, but I was confident.  Besides, I needed the exercise.

One block into our trek to the library I regretted my decision.  It was not oppressively hot yet and there was a nice breeze blowing, but my legs felt like they were made of lead.  I seriously felt weary after less than a quarter mile.  And so I started to lose my temper.

You must understand, I have a lot of ego tied in with my athletic ability.  I discovered pretty quickly in school that I had no aptitude whatsoever for traditional team sports.  On more than one occasion declarations of "easy out" made me see red with rage.  I could never do chin ups or climb that stupid rope that you were supposed to be able to shimmy up to pass the presidential fitness test.  Athletics were synonymous with humiliation and defeat.  I did manage to maintain a healthy weight and a modicum of physical fitness, but I was by no means an athlete.  Late in high school I discovered I liked to run, but after running only short distances I always felt winded and had difficulty breathing, no matter how regularly I practiced.

It wasn't until half way through law school that I was diagnosed with asthma and things took a turn for the better.  I began to run in earnest.  I discovered I could take a hit of my puffer and work out like a fiend without going beet red and having a total lung shutdown.  It was liberating.  I became an athlete.  In my early to mid twenties I woke up early and ran five miles in the mornings.  I ran 5ks and, finally, a sprint distance triathlon.  It did wonders for my self-esteem.  It reinvented my idea of what I was capable of doing.

Shortly after running the tri, I met and married Phillip.  We then began to have a series of babies within a relatively short period of time.  I love all my children and would not change a thing about having them, not even the brevity of the gap between them.  God's design and plan was perfect.  That being said, it wrecked havoc on my body.  After having Baby Boy I participated in Baby Bootcamp and was very near getting it all back together, but Baby Girl was hot on his heels.  I had some issues with the pregnancy and had to stop working out just weeks after finding out I was pregnant.  By the end of the pregnancy I was on partial bed rest.  It allowed me to have a full term, healthy baby, but, again, my personal fitness was shot.

I tend to have an all or nothing personality.  In the few times that I have recommitted myself to getting back into shape in the past two years, I always try to start full throttle.  I want to be able to run a couple miles or bike at least five.  I try, fail, and lose my temper.  Then I don't even want to try.  I make excuses that I need a gym membership, personal trainer, or a really nice double jogging stroller all of which I cannot afford.  I vow to wake up early and do a fitness DVD, then I am just too stinking tired.  Really, the excuses are irritating... even to me.

I just want to be in shape.  I don't want to get there again.  It's hard, time consuming, and maddeningly slow.  So anyway, I felt my temper begin to flare this morning as my legs refused to cooperate with our stroll to the library.  I got myself in check, though.  I remembered that I had choices.  I could turn around, disappoint the kids and get no exercise.  I could trudge on unhappily, cursing myself for being such a non-athlete again and make myself miserable.  Or I could enjoy the breeze and just keep walking.  So, I sang a little song as we pushed along (I'm serious, guys; I sing as much and as publicly as Buddy the Elf) and I cheered up.  My legs got themselves together and started helping out.  It was a pleasant walk.

The great thing about walking a mile (or further) is that you are then are forced to walk the same distance back.  I started out with a much better attitude on the second leg.  Even so, about three quarters in, my legs rebelled again and let me know that they would rather not continue.  This time, the athlete side of me smiled and gave them a little pep talk.  We got home just fine.

So I'm officially done with the excuses.  I am not going to run five kilometers tomorrow, but I do plan on at least taking another walk.  I am going to strive to be patient with myself and my progress. But I'm also going to move.  The verse that has been on my white board for a month now says in part:  "But one thing I do:  forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the race[.]"  A race is hard work, both the literal, running kind and the metaphoric, life living kind, but it's so worth it.  I remember the feeling when I crossed the finish line of that triathlon and there is nothing like it.  So I'm going to do it again.  And again.  And again.  Not try to do it, but really do it.  As Yoda once said, "Try not.  Do or do not."  (Yes, in addition to being a Jesus freak, music geek and book nerd, I am also a Star Wars fanatic.  You get a special badge if you manage to quote Scripture and Yoda in the same paragraph.  Not really, but, anyway...)

I'm going to press on, striving for that elusive trifecta of physical health, mental health, and spiritual health.  I'm going to ignore anyone or anything in this world that cries "easy out" as I run by, out of breath and struggling, and I'm going to keep on going.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, so I'm going to do some stuff.  Because I want to run the race of my life well.  I want to experience everything God has to offer me and I can't do that if I'm glued to the couch.  Or to the office chair, for that matter.  I think I hear my bicycle calling me...    


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