As of today, I will be attempting to run 50 miles at the Palo Duro Trail Run in 10 days. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared out of my mind. But I am also excited to test the limits of my endurance. I have been increasing miles and pace over the last 6 years because it’s fun to see what I can do, it makes me happier, it makes me feel better mentally and I simply love running. In 2009 when training for my first 5K in years, I wanted to make 30 minutes. I didn’t, but that is what spurred me on to really run. The following year I knocked over 5 minutes off and ran it in 27 something. My PR is 24 something that I got 2 years ago at a turkey trot! In my first half, I wanted to break 2 hours. I trained on my own and did it! With 30 seconds to spare. In my second one, a year later, I hit 1:52, quite a difference! In my first marathon, I was shooting for 4 hours. Considering I was sick with the flu for 3 weeks prior to my race, and I did make some rookie mistakes (starting too fast, maybe?!?!) I ran it in 4:15. My second one, less than a year later I wanted to qualify for Boston. In 2016, I did, running 3:53 something! When I set my mind to run a certain distance or time, I am pretty determined and have been able to achieve my goals. When wanted to run a 50K, I thought, yes, this is harder and longer, but I can do it. I trained and have since run 3 50K’s. Everything I have challenged myself with so far, though hard and I worked for it, I knew I was capable. So here I am, 10 days out from 50 miles and this is the first time in my running that I am unsure of the outcome. I truly do not know if I can complete this distance a) at all, and b) in the 12 hours and 30 minutes allowed time. On paper I can. But this is so much further than anything I have attempted to run, so far away from any previous time on my feet that I really don’t know.
My Bible study this week has been on suffering. How appropriate, as ultra runs are often fondly called “sufferfests” among other things. The Bible has a lot to say on suffering. Most often, God does not take suffering away, but promises to be with us in it. I will definitely be holding onto this thought as I know I will be suffering. Why willingly put myself through the physical pain of running? Training and running long distances correlates to my walk of faith. …Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. I pray I will see God beside me when I am weary. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. Vaneetha Rendall Risner said in a Desiring God article “Suffering has a unique way of putting me in God’s presence, beholding his glory, because I am constantly crying out to him.”
I know non-runners do not understand this and question me. I also don’t understand at times either. But I do know that running connects me with God. There is something about the rhythmic movement of running, of feeling the breath in my lungs, and being outside that puts me in God’s presence like nothing else does. It might be its simplicity, or that there aren’t other distractions.
I am imagining myself at the start line. It’s dark, there is a buzz in the cold air. I see my breath. Headlamps are shining, people are laughing nervously. I smell someone’s coffee. I smile, praise God that I am here, wait for the bagpipes to play. It’s time! I take off, at a slow jog, it is a 50 mile race after all. I see the trail of headlamps ahead of me, adjust my pack and settle into my pace. I see myself as the sun starts to peak over the canyon walls and smile, that’s God winking at me. I run on and eat a little fruit at an aid station and take my gel, Untapped Coffee Maple Syrup and am thankful such a thing exists. Before I know it, I have completed loop 1, 20 miles. I see my husband and he refills my pack and takes care of anything I might need. He sends me off with a kiss and…
Tune in to the race recap in a couple of weeks!