Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On Running

Last weekend I checked something off my bucket list-- running a 5K. Flash back several years. When I was a senior in high school, I started running around my neighborhood in the evenings. But I struggled with it. I could not do a complete mile. Even after I started eating healthily and got my weight down to 150 from 200+, I could not run without side stitches or just mental fatigue, telling me to quit. This continued in college, where I was generally out-of-shape, and had no idea where to begin. I resided myself to low self-esteem. I then had a memorable experience as a summer missionary in Russia in 2001. The missionary there was a big runner, he implored me to go out on jogs with him. I finally relented and he coached me in breathing and encouraged me. I finally ran about a mile without stopping. This was an emotional experience, like something that was broken deep down inside of me was finally starting to get fixed. That was probably about the last time I ran.

Last year I started doing HIIT a lot, Insanity gets you in good cardiovascular shape for many tasks, and this year I started doing serious weight lifting as well. In my life in general, I've declared war on the phrase "I can't." Tony Horton says it best "If you turn your 'I can't' into 'I presently struggle with'..." then pretty soon you'll find that you can do a little bit more each day and it will eventually add up to something significant.  I decided that running could be one of those things I add to the repertoire.

We moved into an apartment with a fitness center and treadmills. I started running on them, downloaded one of those 5K trainer apps for my iPhone. I decided that if I listened to my Turkish pop music during my run I could kill two birds with one stone-- maintain some of my Turkish vocab and get into running. Running my first mile without stopping was a milestone, and I kept at it about 1-2 times a week. It was sorta easy. I signed up for a 5K as a fundraiser for Elias' school, now I was committed.

I found that running on a treadmill didn't get my heart rate up as high as something like Insanity, unless I really jacked up the incline. But one day after I had jogged a couple miles on the treadmill, my knee really started to hurt. I tried to run it off and ignore it, but the next day the ligament or tendons hurt so bad I could just barely make it down stairs by myself and had to visit a doctor. When this healed, I tried again only to get a similar result.

The Monday before the 5K, at 5:30am, I decided to take a test jog of 3.5 miles through our neighborhood. Boom, made it without slowing down. My heart rate was pretty high the entire time, but it didn't stop me. I got pretty emotional about it. But afterwards my knee hurt again, real pain, so I decided to rest it until Saturday. (I still did my Leg Day workouts and walked my 10,000 steps in a day, but no running). That was frustrating because I felt like I was really close to accomplishing my goal and did not want it hindered.

This past Saturday was the 5K. I got up to the front to start the race and was overcome with emotion-- namely excitement but also fear of failure. We had prayed for my knee to feel fine. When the horn sounded, I was off and ran the first mile at record speed for me-- and too fast. I made it past the halfway point and had to walk for a bit to get my heart rate down to start up again. But I was able to pick back up and keep pushing. In the end, I finished in 26:13; a pace of 8:27 per mile-- good enough for 22nd out of a registered 327. I felt like I did at the end of that run in Russia, a sense of relief and just of thankfulness to God for being able to do something I'd never done and never really thought I would do until very recently. My knee never hurt.

Coolest part was probably that my wife also finished with a very good time, she was able to accomplish a big goal for herself as well. My son was also there to enjoy the race, and I love this picture.

You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

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