Finding the light

I’ll admit it. It’s been a fairly dark summer for me. I’ve struggled physically, which darkens my mood in direct proportion. I’ve had minor ailments, truly nothing that should make this journey seem So. Dang. Hard. Yet, hard it’s been. I’ve had to dig deeper than I ever have to maintain the barest level of fitness. And, I do mean barest.

But, I’m an eternal optimist. And, I think determined is a kind word to describe me. My husband might call it hard headed, but it has served me well during this time of struggle. I’m not one to ever give up when I have my eyes fixed on a goal.

I have learned a really important lesson through all this. It’s one I already knew, but, deep down I didn’t think it applied to me. It’s a very simple lesson, one we learn as children, and hammer into place as adults. It’s this: Garbage in, garbage out. You are what you eat. Turns out those tired, old cliches are true, after all. You simply can’t outrun bad nutrition. Your body won’t let you. Oh, you may get away with it for a while (especially if you’re young), but at some point, your body will come to a screeching halt, flip you the bird, and declare it’s done. That’s where my body was heading. I won’t bore you with the details of the things I’ve been pouring into it; but, they included large amounts of foods that don’t properly fuel my body, chased by gallons of (very good) wine and coffee.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reigning in my runaway eating, I’ve made purposeful choices about what to put in my mouth and what to leave out, I’ve planned meals intentionally, and I’m cooking again.  I’m finally feeling like myself again.  The body is a truly amazing thing.  When you take proper care of it, it responds well and performs in almost any way you ask it to.

Yesterday’s run was the first one in many, many weeks that really felt good. Still painfully slow, but strong and steady. I can live with that for now. This morning my man and I did hill repeats, again slowly, but with strength and purpose. It really annoys me that he can already kick my a** again on the last hill, in spite of the fact that he’s got hardware in his leg and has just started running again. I’ve written about that hill before. It hates me.  I hate it. So, I’m determined to conquer it. Maybe one day we’ll be friends. Or, at least, it will know who is boss.

This evening, my legs are pleasantly sore (mostly).  I’m tired in the way I should be tired, not in the “I think I’m coming down with something” kind of tired. I’m looking ahead in anticipation to the workouts we have planned this week.

I’m headed toward the light again. Finally. And, I haven’t had to give up coffee. 😉

giant step

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

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Hills and valleys

I’ve always been a dreamer, and, most of the time, an optimist.  I come from a long line of dreamers.  Optimists, not so much.  So, I had to learn to be one.  To choose joy and hope, to learn to see the light at the end of the tunnel and realize it is there to guide me.  My mom was convinced the light at the end of the tunnel was that proverbial oncoming train and she always made effort to retreat, rather than to push forward, explore the terrain around her and move toward that ever welcoming light.  That’s not an indictment against her, it was just her nature to believe the worst and try to steel herself against it.  I’m not sure she realized that was her nature by choice, and that she could change it if she wanted. I chose not to be that person and it’s a choice I make daily.  Sometimes, the light seems like it’s a long way off.

I’ve come to a valley in my training in the last few months.  Physically, I feel like I’m light years away from who I want to be.  I’m tired when I get up in the morning, I am sluggish throughout the day, and any efforts to run require a discipline that feels impossible somedays.  Still, I push on.

If I’ve learned nothing else through running, I’ve learned this.  There are seasons of great reward and seasons of great defeat.   There are times when it’s easy and effortless, and times when a walk is a victory.  There are valleys and there are hills.  You have to successfully walk through the valleys in order to appreciate the view from the hills.  Those dark walks through the valleys define us. They teach us who we are and what we’re made of. They teach us how to be the best we can be, how to live our lives with hope, discipline, and integrity. As in running, as in life.

Hopes, dreams, goals, confidence in the future are the stuff that a life is built on.  They are what keep us trudging through the valleys, and looking up the side of the hill.  Sometimes, when I look up the side of the hill, I’m afraid it’s insurmountable.  I doubt my ability to climb, fear my strength won’t get me to the top. Then, I put one foot down, then, another, and on and on until I’m at the peak.  The view is breathtaking from there and I want to sprint to the next one.  

It really is that simple.  Just one foot in front of the other. Keep moving forward. Know that God is with you, every step. Walking with you, encouraging you, guiding you, keeping you from stumbling, helping you get up when you do fall.

Right now, my steps are excruciatingly slow.  But, they’re moving in the right direction.  I’m paying close attention to my nutrition, which has been rather seriously derailed in the last few months.  I’m eating well, resting well, and using that long ingrained discipline to make myself move most days.  I’m ready to get out of this valley, but it seems for now that  I’m stuck here.  I can’t even see the side of the hill from here.  

Good thing I know it’s there.

continuouseffort

…I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27

Doubt

It feels like every post I’ve done over the last few weeks has been about motivation or inspiration. Can you tell I’m struggling this summer? Not so much with the heat, but with the whimsy of a 51 year old body that has threatened revolt every time I’ve revved my training back up. First, with a back injury, followed by several weeks of intensive chiropractic/stretching/no running. I began to ease back into my mileage, adding more cycling days, and had a really great week a couple of weeks ago.

Gary always tends to the tires on our bikes before we ride, and I think, before that ride, he put wings on my tires. I hit speeds of 23 mph, with an average speed of 18-19 mph. For me, that’s flying. I almost handed him his helmet on that ride, but being a man, he couldn’t stand to see me win, so he kicked it up a notch and passed me in the last 5 yards. Whatever. At least I made him work for it.  Anyway, loved that ride, and began to think that I might actually be coordinated brave enough to try clipping in on my bike on the next ride. Ran well that weekend and looked forward to the week ahead.

Which brings us to last week. We got up on Monday morning to ride, (as we were headed out of town later that week to see the Braves play), and I could not get it together. Gary flew off, and I pedaled through quicksand for 13 tortuous miles. I had gotten too much sun that weekend at a fun girl’s day at my sister’s pool, so I blamed it on that. However, later that day, the unmistakeable sign of a urinary tract infection began rearing its ugly head. By Tuesday morning, it was full fledged. A day of torture, including an extended doctor’s visit, then, finally, blissful medication ensued. I’ve had at least one UTI per year for the last 30+ years, but this one hit me pretty hard. I enjoyed our trip to Atlanta, but really didn’t feel up to par. Is this what it means to be over 50? Getting older is not for the faint of heart, is it? Sigh.

Needless to say, there was no running or cycling last week. I finally felt better by Sunday and set my alarm for an early run. I’ve slapped the snooze button, then the OFF button,  for three days straight, and still haven’t made it out the door. Gary and I have plans to get up tomorrow for an early ride, no excuses. We’ve both got to get moving again.

I don’t mind admitting to you that last week brought with it the first doubt I’ve felt in a long, long time. Am I too old to try to add mileage and be faster? Have I had my day in the sun? I haven’t even broken a 9:30 mile yet.  Am I ever going to at this point? It seems like every time my heart and head point me towards a goal, my body says, “Yeah. Thanks, but no thanks.”

Okay, if you have been following my blog for any length of time, or if you know me, you know that “can’t” isn’t in my wheelhouse. I used a great quote in a recent post, “Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith, it’s an element of it.”

Without doubt, how would we know what faith looks or feels like? If I depend on my strength to get through this tough time, I’m doomed to failure. But, I know the Man. I know the One who can. The One who gives me strength to accomplish all He has set out for me to do. So, I’m leaning on Him. I’m remembering His promises. I’m claiming them for my own. Today and everyday.
BelieveSheCould

Let’s Do This.

23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Mark 11:23

I would love whatever encouraging voices you can lift.  We’re all in this together, and I need your encouragement now, more than ever.