Training for a 25k Trail Run

Last Monday, Loren & I were determined to find another run for this summer. We have an envelope started and knew our budget made for slim pickins, but we were set. Insert: Mary's Peak 25k. $49 each. Most runs were already at $100. This is how it went:

"Loren! I found one! And it's close. And it's on a Saturday! And it's...only $49 each!" He glances over. We read "Blodgett to Mary's Peak" and all that registers is "local." Not "trail run," not "2,500 elevation," not "14.28 mm average pace." Nope: we saw Local + Saturday morning + >$50 + free swag bag {literally, that's our prize}.

We are signed up within 6 minutes of stumbling upon it.

Something about me is that I had bi-lateral pulmonary embolisms. That's the technical term for big fat deathly blood clots in both lungs. From those little killers, I formed very big scar tissues in my lungs. Running was a difficult re-start for me after my PEs. It hurt, I could barely run a 12mm for one mile. My chest burned, my lungs didn't want to expand, I was devastated. But over the course of the following 4 years, I kept at it. I pressed on. I ran my first half marathon in October of 2012 {2 years almost to date since my PE}. My second just last month. Road running had become fairly easy -- my body handled it well, my mind was cake, the only rare ache I had was the occasional lung stabs.

Nike Plus Corvallis Half

After our second half marathon, I wanted a bigger challenge. I love challenges - it probably has something to do with me trying to find worth in the wrong places; but maybe it doesn't. We looked into full marathons but most of them for this year were already up and over $100. A lot of them are on Sundays and out of town, and we value being part of our church community on Sundays. When we stumbled upon Mary's Peak 25k, I read 15 miles and thought, "there is the next challenge! 2 more miles." I didn't even think of the trail-straight-uphill-kill-me part.

I didn't think of the intense pain I would endure in my lungs. It's a whole new game, trail running is.

3 days pass since signing up. We decide we should try this trail running thing. We drive to Chip Ross & we run a difficult 1.47 miles - straight up, bumpy down. We almost die. I am pouring sweat off of my body like a man. Loren is shirtless. And we are unsure of our tightened calves and glutes. I was slightly discouraged as I am used to running 10 miles with ease.

The next day rolls around and we decide to run up the back of Bald Hill. We hiked it during our engagement and knew it was going to be quite the challenge. This 4 mile run was difficult, but encouraging. Straight up, straight down, flat. Though I was tempted about 800 times to stop and walk {and though I may have moved quicker that way} I didn't. Loren didn't. He cheered me on, he rooted my name, he told me I could do it. What a babe.

Our third run last week was up the easy side of Bald Hill. For each of these runs, Loren would constantly be saying, "Wow! It's beautiful up here! Look at this! Wow!" Every time he said these things, I was reminded that I was stating at his feet. Staring at the ground directly in front of me, focusing on my breathing, trying not to quit. I wasn't looking up to take in the beauty. I wasn't looking around, basking in Gods creation. I was tunneling my vision to the dirt. The rocks. The feet pounding before me.

As usual, I could not help but think of my walk in life: my adventure towards Jesus. How often do I unconsciously stare at the dirt, the muck, the rocks below me. The feet pounding ahead of me. Thinking how I am behind others in my growth process and how far I have to grow. Why can't I appreciate my surroundings of just where I'm at? And how often do I miss out on the green, lush, beautifully captivating life that surrounds me? How often am I so focused on my own inner pain {and turmoil}, thinking through the best way to breathe {quite literally}, and not allowing myself the freedom to look around, soak in the blessings? Instead, I focus on self. I look inward. I constantly am trying to improve self, step by step. Which has it's pros and it's cons.

It is good {I believe} to be self-analytical. But only to an extent. It can be dangerous. If all I am doing every step of my adventure is looking at the feet ahead of me, pounding the dusty dirt, inwardly focused on how I should breathe so that I can avoid pain...I won't be impacting anyone's life but my own. I won't be changing this world for the better, bringing hope that this world needs. I won't be doing my job as a follower of the best God-Man-Savior-Lover.

Today, I want to breathe with the ease of peace, not comparing myself to others.

Today I want to look around and soak in the beauty that engulfs my life.

Today, I want to keep my head up and my eyes forward, forgetting myself and remembering Him.

He covers us, friends. He is everywhere. Look around and soak Him in. Breathe Him in.

He will bring you freedom.