Letter #667: Choose Discipline

 

photo-264

Dear running,

A year ago today I ran the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon. 13.1 miles. Today, I’m not really sure I could run a 5K.

What a clear picture of what our bodies are capable of but also of how quickly they change.

I was thinking about last year today and what the difference was. The only thing I can come up with is choice.

I chose and committed to running 13.1 miles. Because of that, I put in the training it took to accomplish it. Discipline.

Today, I haven’t chosen. I’m not aiming to run multiple miles. Could I do it again? Sure. [I think!] But it starts with a choice.

This isn’t only true of running. We must choose. Choose to pursue. Choose to love. Choose joy. Choose our attitudes. Choose selflessness. Choose discipline.

When I think back to a year ago, my life was disciplined. Far more so than it is now. I’ve learned discipline breeds discipline. If I’m running/exercising regularly, I eat better. If I’m going to bed at the right time, I wake up easier. If I abide by my social media boundaries, I am more productive.

Discipline breeds discipline. I don’t know if I’ll ever run a half again. I do know running one helped me understand the need for choice, commitment and discipline in order to live with purpose.

Reflecting on what once was,

Out of shape

Letter #614: 13.1…Check.

photo-267

Dear OKC Marathon,

Wow. You are one of the neatest experiences I’ve ever been part of. 25,000 runners. Thousands of additional spectators. 6:30am start time which meant 5:30am church and memorial services. All in memory of one 1995 bombing that took 168 lives and really changed Oklahoma forever.

photo-268
In the corrals minutes before the run…it looks light, but the sun hadn’t even risen yet.

I had toyed with the idea of running a half marathon for a couple years, and in January I decided I was doing it in 2013. I quickly chose you for my race and started training. I have to admit, I was nervous leading up to the start. Would I be able to make it? Was I in good enough shape? Did I eat the right things to give me the right amount of energy? Would I find the right place to start?

photo-270
Seas of people. Yes, I was running while taking pictures. Sunrise.

I had trained for months. It’s not like I just showed up and hoped to finish. I had lots of time, effort and energy invested. Training: 4 months. 8 states. 1 goal: finish.

After 168 seconds of silence (this was awesome and honestly felt like an eternity) in honor of those lost in the OKC bombing and another three seconds of silence for the Boston victims, the race began. I could see people running as far as I could see in front of me and people waiting to start running behind me. Seas of people continued for at least the first five miles.

photo-271
My favorite leg of the run…besides the finish line of course! The Capital Building.

I ran this race solo. I did some of my training with a friend, but I even did most of my long runs solo. I loved the time to process and honestly when push comes to shove running is an individual sport. It’s all mental. I’d enjoy having people I knew to run the race with if I ever did another one, but I loved accomplishing this myself in my first race.

photo-277
Mama and Papa Roth were at mile 12 to cheer me on and take this picture!!!

For the first seven miles, I felt awesome. I loved every second of it. People watching was prime. The spectators were so encouraging and their signs and chants were hilarious. I was killing it, feeling good and having fun. Then reality sank in. About mile 8.5 I started feeling it. It wasn’t so awesome anymore. I hit the wall. But I kept running. I felt like this all the way through mile 11. By that point you know you’re almost done and can’t really feel the pain anymore :). I was thankful to see familiar faces during mile 12 in my parents and a dear college friend. I kept running. One last turn and a home stretch the street volunteer told me. I picked up my pace. Something I had worked toward for months was being completed. The crowd grew with every step to the finish. Strangers cheered and thanked me for running. Two hours and 15 minutes later at 8:50am I could finally stop running. 13.1 miles…I did it!

photo-274
Needed some kind of documentation at the finish line!
photo-273
Mama & Papa Roth: The greatest supporters at not just my race but in all of life.
photo-266
Even ran into an old kamp friend…it was unreal how many people I saw from college, kamp and just life in general! #smallworld

There have been few times in life I’ve been impressed with or proud of myself. When I crossed that finish line I accomplished something I had worked toward for months and dreamed of for years. I had finished a race that will remind me in hard times of life that anything is possible. Will I run another race? I don’t know yet, but I do know I crossed something off my bucket list I never thought I actually would.

You were so much fun and really well done. Meaningful. Well-executed. Honoring. Exciting. I don’t know what classifies a good or a bad race, but I loved being part of what you’re doing. Thanks for honoring those lost and being a way to aid people in their grief as well as accomplish life goals.

Maybe one day we’ll meet again,

Half marathon completer

Letter #612: Race Week

Dear half marathon,

I’ve had you in my sights for quite some time. I half-heartedly said I wanted to do you for a while but finally committed. This Sunday is game time.

I’ve trained for months. I’ve run in the rain, snow, cold and heat.

I’ve run in the mountains, around lakes, through parks and on highways.

I’ve run while watching the sunrise as well as watching it set.

Most train in one or two locations”…I’ve trained in eight different states and couldn’t even begin counting cities. Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Colorado.

I’ve run listening to podcasts, to music, to conversation when with friends and to nothing but my own thoughts when alone.

I’ve processed. I’ve prayed. I’ve learned. I’ve wrestled. I’ve questioned. I’ve brainstormed. I’ve persevered.

When I’ve wanted to quit, I remember you, my goal. When it seems like I’m too tired to keep going, I talk myself into continuing. When I think adding another mile to my long run is impossible, I prove myself wrong.

Lots of time and energy and miles have been put in for you. I am filled with both anticipation and a bit of anxiety as Sunday approaches. What if I can’t finish? I quickly remind myself of the lessons I’ve already learned and quit worrying.

I’ve trained my mind and body to press on despite circumstance. Endurance. Discipline. Perseverance. I can do this because I’ve trained. If only I translated these disciplines to every area of my life.

You are coming. While I am still a bit nervous, I believe I am ready. Not because I am an extreme athlete, but because I took discipline seriously. I set a goal, made a plan and executed it.

Now I’m just anxious to see and feel the results.

Here’s to Sunday,

Half Marathon Trainer

Letter #611: ‘Helpers’ in the Tragedy

bombing

Dear tragedy,

You strike again. This time in the form of bombs exploding at the 2013 Boston Marathon.

A little after 2pm central time, social media and news outlets reported the newest one of you.

Two bombs went off near the finish line of the marathon taking the lives of at least three and injuring at least 150 that we know as of now. (updated numbers at 9am on April 16th)

My timeline was instantly filled with outcries of why, a call to prayer for victims and a slew of facts, videos and pictures of what happened.

Unexpected. Yes. Sad. Yes. Horrific. Absolutely.

But the thing I found the most interesting was the reaction of service from the people present. Runners kept running to donate blood as tweeted by NBC.

photo-1

If you watch the explosion video here, you see some knocked to their feet, some running away out of instinct and others running to the scene to help.

In the face of you, I can’t help but agree with Mister Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of “disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” 

Scary things happen. They will continue to happen. We are sinful and Satan has power in this world. One day Christ will defeat him forever, but for now bad things will continue. I yearn for this day, but until then may we fight to be the helpers. May we fight to be the hands and feet of Jesus. May we allow beauty to be revealed in the ashes. May we be light because where there is light darkness cannot remain. Most importantly may we share Christ, THE Light of the world, in the process.

Grieve. Mourn. Ask tough questions. Pray. Donate blood. Tell someone you love them. Cry. Don’t take life for granted. Be bold. But rest in the fact that in Christ there is eternal hope in the midst of earthly tragedy.

Praying for Boston,

Tragedy reflector

Photo cred: Business Insider