“Celebration when your plan is working? Anyone can do that. But when you realize that the story of your life could be told a thousand different ways, that you could tell it over and over as a tragedy, but you choose to call it an epic, that’s when you start to learn what celebration is. When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage to call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong, that’s celebration.”
-Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines
The marathon is a celebration. Marathon training is rarely seamless. In fact, it’s usually a bumpy road…filled with really exciting days, disappointing days, tiring days, days you feel you could run a marathon and then some. I believe, training for the marathon (and this being my 3rd in the past year and a half), God has taught me different lessons each marathon build-up.
The first, I went in nervous, excited, filled with unknowns, but also excited to see what I could do: could I race and complete a full-marathon? And, I was thrilled after. Totally filled with joy. So excited I could actually do it.
The second was filled with lots of hope, lots of confidence, and more disappointment at the end. Disappointment with a PR because I felt that I was capable of even more. But, I gave all I had when I raced Chicago. And, the end was bittersweet. Excited to finish as the 5th American. Disappointed to not run a little faster, close a little harder (the list could go on). It felt a little wrong, actually, that I didn’t run faster. And, at Houston Half, I was excited, but disappointed in 2 seconds from dipping under 1:12; I ran 1:12.01. That also felt a little wrong. The celebration was also tainted, as much as I didn’t want it to be. But, isn’t that one of the things that moves us forward? The possibility that something really good could also turn into really great.
And, so now, I meet the third. I’ve ran more mileage, become more resilient, and have chosen to see any bumps in the road as strength builders. I’ve relied more on Christ for strength than my own. I’ve turned disappointing days to rejoicing the next day with a positive step forward. I lost my grandpa a few weeks ago. He was a war veteran, stubborn, a lover of Jesus, and I believe, at the very heart, he would tell me to race with true grit, to dig deep, to embrace the pain.
And, I’ll chose to call this training block epic. And, LA Marathon? An epic celebration.
It will be the first marathon that my family, the love of my life: Seth, and his family will be at. It will be the first ASICS race I run, the first marathon my coach will see me race, and the first to have the support of many more friends and teammates. That’s a celebration. It’s a celebration because I’ve worked hard training and doing what God has called me to do, but I’ve grown a lot…not just as an athlete, but a follower of Christ. Marathon training teaches me often that I’m weak, but I am propelled by the ultimate strength provider: Christ. When I run in His strength, the hard days reassure me that in the race, when it’s hard, God has given me the strength to finish well.
2 Corinthians 12:10
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
A friend wrote me the other day and mentioned how it was cool that I’m pursuing my Olympic dream. The thing is, to be honest, I didn’t choose to run professionally because of an Olympic dream. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to make an Olympic team and it would be a dream come true. But, I chose running because it’s what God has given me to use to worship him, to relate to others, to love others. It’s what He has called me to. Running has become more, bigger, and grander than pursuing the Olympics. It’s a lifestyle, for me. It’s living daily in relationship with Christ and with others. Running has taught me a lot about life, walking faithfully with my Savior, and how to handle difficult seasons.
As I’ve been in this marathon training cycle, I have been uplifted and loved and encouraged by family, friends, teammates, coaches. I value community and I value my home team, my soul sisters (Maria, Kels, Kimmy), my sweet friends a far (Katelyn, Katy, Kaela, Danielle)…those that encourage me through letters (Polina, Tynae, Christina, Sarah)…and all the great women I get to race in LA with or other professional races. I feel really supported and surrounded and fueled with joy going into this marathon. And, I couldn’t be more ready to celebrate an epic race.
Marathon training cycles aren’t completed without the love and support of those closest to my heart.
So, next Sunday, March 15, I’ll be racing LA Marathon and celebrating a great race, fueled by joy, propelled by God’s strength, and excited to add another race worth celebrating to my training log and “life” log.