Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 123 Three Days to Go!

I tied on my running shoes this morning and ran a short circuit through the cold, windy, gray morning.  First of all, I am thankful that the marathon is in Memphis, because anything HAS to be warmer than it was in Chicago today.  Secondly, it was the last time that I will run before the marathon.  All that is left now of training is eating and sleeping and getting to the starting line.  Sounds like an easy few days, but the physical game is yet to come.  The next few days are an exercise in “what not to wear.”  While I have learned from painful experience NEVER to wear anything new in a marathon, I have also learned in life not to carry along those things which drag you down.  Do not carry anxiety.  Do not let fear grip your heart.  Do not “freak out,” as my good friend Beth says.  This is nothing new.  The Bible is FULL of “fear not.”  And indeed, when she was five, one of our daughters recited the Ten Commandments and added:  “Do not… be afraid.” 

I confess that last night, I was a bit anxious.  My phone rang in the middle of the evening.  It was my daughter Kat who is also running the race (albeit WAY faster than me).  “Mom,” she said, “you are going to have SO much fun.”  I needed to hear that.  And I remembered in my first two marathons at mile 16 when I was dragging my feet and losing heart rapidly, my daughter Beth came alongside to cheer me on, something I will always cherish.  And my husband Bill who has supported me every step through this craziness.  Snickers, anyone?  In rain and shine, literally.

This is kind of like three days before taking the SAT’s.  There is not anything you can do at this point.  But trust.


Our help is in the name of the LORD,

Who made heaven and earth.

                         Psalm 124.8

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 117 The Race is Not Always to the Swift

I woke this morning to 37 degrees and and a light drizzle outside.  But a mile away from our house, a crowd of about 250 runners was drawing together for the annual Turkey Predicto Race in my town.  Just about every race I know costs money, supports a cause, and rewards the fastest runners.  This race costs absolutely nothing.   It is just an opportunity to get together and run.  The twist is that the winners are not necessarily those who are first across the line.  Before this race begins, runners sign in their names and their predicted finish time, down to the second.  The two runners who most accurately predict their finish times win a turkey and a pumpkin pie.  No watches are allowed.  We gathered in the local boat house on this shivery morning.  A park employee directed us outside, and before most people had even reached the street, she calmly said, “go.”  Five miles of people chatting, kids riding bikes, and even two runners decked out in aprons and chef hats.  Laughter prevailed as the group made its way through the streets of Glen Ellyn.  At the finish line, I heard one girl shrieking that she missed her time by two seconds, and a gentleman boasting that he was only six seconds off his.

This morning proved that running does not have to be so serious or so competitive.  Just fun.  Sometimes we forget that.

Nine days until the marathon, down to the single digits and counting. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 114 Glorious Taper

You would think that the last few weeks of marathon training would be the hardest, the longest, and the most grueling.  But as you move your way through the training schedule and get closer to the race, the mileage and workouts actually taper off for the final three weeks.  Indeed, the last week before the marathon, one is barely breaking a sweat.  This phase of training is great -- “the taper” as it is called in the running world.  The whole idea is to build up one’s strength by giving the body the time to rest, repair and rejuvenate itself.   It is a good idea for all of us.  (God called it the Sabbath).  Hardcore obsessive runners have a hard time with this idea, often pushing the mileage even when they are not supposed to.  Me?  Well, I am enjoying every last non-running minute.

Today, I ran in a pair of shorts and a tank top.  Yes, in Chicago on November 22.  And I didn’t get frostbite.  It was 60 degrees.  Above zero.  Even the pessimistic natives around here were astonished by the unusually mild air this fall, but ALWAYS seemed to follow up with “the cold weather is coming.”    And indeed, the rest of the week is supposed to have a high in the 30s.  But I delighted in every warm day while it lasted.

Monday, November 15, 2010

God in Every Detail

Just read this excerpt this morning from one of my favorite books My Utmost for His Highest.  It is a book of great spiritual wisdom, compiled by the widow of Oswald Chambers who transcribed his lessons and talks into a daily devotional.  Hope that it is an encouragement to you., a reminder of what Biblical worldview is all about.

From yesterday's entry (November 14):

We can all see God in exceptional things,
but it requires the culture of spiritual discipline to see God in every detail.
Never allow that the haphazard is anything less than God's appointed order,
and be ready to discover the Divine designs everywhere.

Day 107 What’s in YOUR forecast?

Over the weekend, I fulfilled my last LONG training run.  I awoke to cloudy skies and checked the hourly forecast.  At the time, there was a 55 percent chance of rain, but not a drop to be seen.  I waited until the chance of rain had dropped to 35 percent (still no rain) with the chance of precipitation dropping sharply in the next hour to only 10 percent.  It was 52 degrees, and for most of my run, the forecast was 60 degrees, partly sunny with only a 10 percent chance of rain.  I started my run wearing a tank top and long-sleeve dry-weave shirt, a little overkill for the temperature, but I could always take off the outer layer, if necessary.

Within the first mile, there were a few raindrops here and there, but nothing threatening.  By the time I reached the main part of the trail where there were stretches of marshland on both sides, I was far enough away from home that I was committed to putting this long run to rest.  About that time, the zero hour when rain was virtually out of the forecast, it began to rain.  Bill was with me, patiently riding his bike alongside, providing me with water, snickers, and laughter about the forecast.  Bless his heart.  I may be crazy to run in the rain, but it is a faithful man who rides along and encourages me.

Needless to say, those few raindrops turned into a steady rain for the duration of my three and a half hour run.  The weatherman missed this one for sure.  The temperature plummeted into the 40s, winds increased to 20 miles per hour, and puddles formed on the trail. 

There are times in life like that when we are quite simply caught in the rain, nothing in the forecast, and certainly not in our plans for sure.  But we can be assured that even in the rainy times God is working in ways that we cannot see and sometimes, I think, especially in ways we cannot see.  We can always be assured of His love, mercy and righteousness.  No matter the forecast, no matter the “weather” around us.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD,

plans for welfare and not for evil,

to give you a future and a hope.

                     Jeremiah 29.11

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 100 What does that look like?

When the girls were in early elementary school, their classrooms often had “day 100” celebrations.  The girls would have to bring in “one hundred” of something to school, just to give them a visual picture of what a hundred was.   And they would make creative pieces of artwork (to bring home) that usually displayed one hundred Cheerios glued to a piece of construction paper, usually rumpled, a few Cheerios short of a hundred, by the time they got off the bus.  But it would be proudly exhibited on the door of the fridge for days, until the magnets would slip and the artwork was in reach of our dog to grab a quick snack. (“You’re throwing it away?!?” the girls would cry out).

Needless to say, one hundred is a lot of anything – except for maybe Facebook “friends” who don’t really count.  How many pieces of your children’s Halloween candy did you eat?  How many socks without mates are in your collective drawers?  How many chores are waiting to be noticed?  One hundred can be overwhelming.

But one hundred can also be a good thing.  You don’t start at a hundred.  You count up one day at a time, each day building on the day before.  And suddenly, Day 100.  You can’t do something for 100 days and it not make a difference in your life…and in the lives of those around you. 

So teach us to number our days

   that we may get a heart of wisdom.

                              Psalm 90.12

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 99 How far did you turn back the clock?

The “time change” is never a welcome event in our household, because suddenly it is DARK way too early.  It always takes me by surprise, like my afternoon ran out of daylight.

But this morning as I awoke, realizing that the time on my watch was not the “real” time, I thought about turning back the clock.  How far back do you want to turn it?  Back to high school?  College?  Five years ago?   Even ten years ago, I would never have even thought about running a marathon.  “I could never do that,” I remember telling people.  Indeed, at the time, I could barely make it to the end of my block without having to walk.  Sometimes we are surprised by looking back. 

And sometimes it fills us with regret for how we would have done things differently.  But this I do know, we cannot dwell there.  We can’t turn back the clock in life, but we can live the days ahead with a different heart.

…but one thing I do,

forgetting what lies behind

and straining forward to what lies ahead.

I press on toward the goal for the prize

of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

                     Philippians 3. 13-14

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 98 Four Weeks From Today

Four weeks from today is the St. Jude’s Memphis marathon.  I ran through brisk air this morning, knowing this journey is almost over.  The trees today stood stark against the deep blue sky.  When I started training for this marathon, it was summer.  I ran under the sweaty summer sun, and then falling golden leaves, and training in Chicago, it is likely that I will see snow before I stand at the starting line in Memphis.  Four weeks.  And I wonder, even now, what is on the other side of the finish line.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 97 Deflated Fear

I have been amused this week in the aftermath of Halloween.  On my daily trek, I am running past the rather tattered and pathetic remains of Halloween decorations, polyester spider webs still clinging to bushes and an occasional plastic skeleton half-buried in the lawn.  One of our neighbors down the street last week displayed a rather large inflatable ghost menacing in their front yard which moved spookily in the breeze.  Be afraid, it seemed to whisper.  But this week, it remains slumped and deflated on the ground, a thin piece of material gathering leaves, frightening no one at all.

Oh, those gigantic fears we harbor that loom so frightfully when the light is dim and we are easily spooked.

And then to see them in the daylight, we realize them for what they are, deflated and ridiculous.

I sought the LORD, and He answered me,

    and delivered me from all my fears.

                                              Psalm 34.4

(both real and imagined)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 96 Just being done is not the point

When you are working toward something, as I am pursuing this marathon, as a good friend is struggling through cancer, as many friends with their children, as some are in their work or their schooling or looking for a job, just being done is not the main point.   We live in a society that wants to finish, check it off, and have it neatly wrapped up in sixty minutes or less.  But I find that I need to keep my eyes on more than the finish line.  I need not strive for the end so fast.  Because I know that there is a lot more at stake here.  I don’t want to miss the story that gets me there, the people I will meet on the way, the grace that I will learn, and that which may hold the most significance.

I read a newsletter today from friends of ours who are missionaries in Bogota, Colombia.   On many days, God puts people on their path that they didn’t expect.  The other day, it happened again.  “It wasn’t what we had planned for the afternoon, but it was what God had planned for us,”  they wrote.

Every morning, it is not a matter of  laying our days before the LORD to see how He can fit in.  But being sensitive to God laying His day before us to follow Him into it. 

I am ready to finish this marathon.  But I don’t want to miss what God has in store on the way there.  It might not even be about the race.  Actually, it probably isn’t.


For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

    neither are your ways My ways, says the LORD.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

   so are My ways higher than your ways

   and My thoughts than your thoughts.

                              Isaiah 55. 8-9

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 93 Yea, I’m still running

So much for a daily blog on running the marathon.  I am still training, but I have not been faithful in blogging.  And quite frankly, there have been many days when I have wondered about my sanity.  And thinking about what my daughter Laura recommends, “Time for a new hobby.”  I thought a lot about that last weekend when I had to run 20 miles by myself and all but one water fountain on the path had been turned off for the season.  “Keep going,” I told myself at several points.  “You can finish this.”  It made me think about so many times in life when God has stretched me beyond what I thought I was capable.  When the girls were so little, there were so many cries in the night when I didn’t think that I had the energy to get out of bed one more time.  But I did.  Somehow God provides the strength to get through.  We’ve ALL been there.

And I realize that the hard part about the marathon is not the marathon itself, but the long and lonely miles of training when you are by yourself and the road seems endless.  You will make it.  And so will I. 

The miles may be long and hard, but there is blue sky and golden arches of trees and a hot shower waiting for me at the end.  God is good.  May I never forget that.

But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,

His mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

            great is Your faithfulness.

                 Lamentations 3. 21-23