July. Holy cow. It has arrived. This is THE month that I have been preparing for. If you ask me how long I have been training, the answer I would give you is six months, give or take. The real answer, is years. In regard to that answer though, the truth is not necessarily how long I have been training, but rather how long God has been preparing me, mind, body and soul for this incredible journey of faith. One that I have said over and over that has had running as the tool used to build me up and move me forward toward Him. Running is not the reason for my faith. God is the reason for my faith. Running is what God has used. It is simple and it is obvious.
As for training, I am doing well. I wrap up physical therapy for my hamstring this week. It has worked wonders. It is not 100%, but I am not concerned about it hindering the race. It is damn near close to better. If I sit too long or go for a very long run on pavement, I know there is an issue. Most other times, I forget. That is a great thing considering the majority of my race is run on trail and there will be quite a bit of walking involved. If I were racing a marathon on the road, I'd be nervous about it. But 100 miles? Piece of cake :) When my mind begins to take over and steer me off the confidence course, I have so many moments to recall during training that pull me back to staying focused and confident. These are moments when God made His power and the power of honest, heartfelt prayer, evident. I now see those, too, had purpose, not only in the moment, but for later... like now. They have such a huge role in keeping me from crumbling into a nervous heap right now. We have this little thing we do when things get shaky or questionable. It goes like this...
Me: "What? Hamstring? Seriously? Why? I mean, I thought I had the reason for this race nailed down. Maybe I had it all wrong and wanted it so badly that I misinterpreted what I felt so strongly You were asking of me. Otherwise, you would protect me from injury and doubt. You would keep me healthy. I'd keep praying, both for myself and for others and you'd make sure my training was perfect and injury free. You'd make sure I towed the line as a lean, running machine!"
God: "Oh please! The body I've given you is strong and adequate. You are injured just because... not because I made you injured. BUT... I am going to use this. Trust me and stay the course and this will happen. Not because of you, but because of Me. Recall your training. The countless times I have revealed myself... through your friends, through your husband, your family and your doctor. If you lose trust and lose heart, this will not work. Your mind will consume you and your body will fail as a result. You are treading water and right now, your head is above and I am holding you up. Do not lose site of Me. You will drown."
Me: "10-4 good Buddy. I hear you and onward we go. Oh and THANK YOU!"
That is kind of how it has been. No... actually... that is exactly how it has been. To those without faith, I sound like the perfect candidate for a psychiatric evaluation (and I'm cool with people thinking that... there are times I question my sanity...), but there are a few people who have been through the past through years with me and can attest that for me to be approaching this race with such calm, such confidence, there is no worldly explanation.
If there were ever any piece of evidence for God's limitless and enormous love for me, it is who He partnered me with for life. There are no words to describe my love for this man. There just are not. His support, love, encouragement, PATIENCE and humor are the perfect fuel to keep me going. It was not easy living with a head case like me when I was getting ready to race a marathon... or really anytime! But he was just so awesome each time. When I'd come home and cry or be disappointed, he was such a comfort. He always added perspective so quickly. Even without saying a word. He'd was on task with filling up a huge glass of wine and making a great meal. Often times I'd sit there and watch him do things, trying desperately to make it all better for me and I would just think "Wow. Thank you, God. This is what matters. There will be a gazillion other marathons."
Everyone knows that my story of a quest for a BQ started with my first real training partner, Sarah. I have had the joy of meeting and running with so many other incredible women and men along the way, adding to my love for running and training. But in the beginning, it was just Sarah. When friendships start, they are always so superficial (clearly because if you stripped down to your crazy off the bat, you'd send people running... away!). There is niceness, politeness and complements. Little by little, you begin to reveal your true selves. Because you are together so much, you begin to peel off the layers of who you really are. Sometimes it is more than the other person wants to deal with or even likes and the friendship naturally dissolves. No harm done. With Sarah, those layers were stripped and we stayed friends and we kept running. It was easy to talk... about anything while running. If a subject was uncomfortable, running was the time to discuss it. Because you can talk without looking at the person. That may sound backwards, but it made entry into a subject easy. Which then allowed a face to face, heart to heart that much easier. I am SUCH a private person. It isn't easy for me to share, though people might think otherwise reading this blog... this blog only scratches the surface.
But Sarah knows my weaknesses. She knows my lack of confidence when it comes to racing, my limits and what is important to me. She knows I worry about being a good mom. She knows my fears about each of my children. And about the times I fail miserably in any area. She knows I have an awesome husband and that without him, I'd be lost. She knows I have a temper and she knows I have strong faith in God. She knows I miss her like crazy right now because we have not run together or seen each other in weeks thanks to the demands of our kids' varying summer schedules, her teaching and my need to train for the race during the times we normally would see each other. She KNOWS running has changed me. And I hope to God she knows that without her, I would not, COULD NOT do this race.
In my entire life, I can name three women who have known me so closely and still chose to be my closest friends (besides my awesome sisters, who have no choice in the matter :). One is my childhood friend, Nicole, who I have reconnected with thanks to Facebook. We were inseparable as kids, much to our parents dismay (by the grace of God, we are both still alive and have wonderful families) and the other is my friend in Columbus, Krista. Many people search a lifetime for one friend like that. God blessed me with three.
This is not to say that there are not many other people who have played a role in my journey. I have incredible friends that don't run... who actually really don't like anything about running... who are amazingly wonderful and supportive and awesome. They too, add an element of perspective that if tomorrow my legs were lost in an accident, life would go on and I would be fine. There is more to life than running. They show me that constantly without actually saying it.
This past weekend I was in Oregon for my cousin, Matt's, wedding. To be around my family in such a celebratory way was incredibly uplifting and wonderful. Add to that the fact that many of my cousins are runners and I was able to run in the beautiful state of Oregon each day I was there. Matt and Ashley's story of how they got together gives me chills. There is tangible proof of God's role in their union. As I heard their story unfold, the pieces that Matt found so frustrating and unclear, fit so beautifully in the end. His deployment to Afganistan for a year left him questioning God's purpose for him. Little did he know, that assignment would ultimately lead him to exactly what he wanted so badly. A wife. And one that lived in his own city all along. I don't think anyone present could deny that this marriage was the deliberate act of God. It was a gorgeous outdoor wedding, with unseasonably warm and beautiful weather for Oregon in June. Coincidence? I think not. Add to that I got to take my sweet Jack on this trip and had some much needed one on one time with him (mostly on the plane since he was busy playing with cousins all weekend).
I ask for your prayers as this race comes down to the wire. It's purpose is so much greater than I and my finishing will benefit so many needy and innocent people. I have a crew that will get the job done, come hell or high water. Pray for them too. This will not be easy for them. They will get little sleep and be guiding me much of the night. They will be my voice of reason and the reason I finish. They are the backbone and my only chance at successfully completing this daunting distance.
And I just have to say, Suttan Geiser, you will be so missed on this weekend. You are such a huge part of this and I just may need to call you for some funny Keith stories to keep me going :) Better yet, put him on the phone. He can be on the treadmill, suffering right along with me. Happy 50th to your wonderful hubby!