Tough days. Rough Races. Loving the Hard.

“Running is hard. And it’s really hard to always love the hard. But it’s worth it.” -Kelsey Bruce

I met Kelsey Bruce last summer at RRCA’s RunPro camp. At the time, I didn’t really know what she meant when she shared this with me. I was coming off the best six months of my running career. I PR’d in my main event almost every weekend. I was an Indoor and Outdoor NCAA qualifier and an Outdoor USATF Championships qualifier.

I was on a hot streak with a shiny new 2:02.67 next to my name. I forgot what it was like to have tough days, rough races, and be forced to love the hard.

Cue USATF Indoor Championships this past weekend… yep… now I remember all those feelings. Now I totally understand what she meant.

This past weekend, I didn’t handle my nerves well. At all. I let my brain take control of the result rather than letting my body relax and perform the way I’m capable of racing. Instead of taking confidence in my past 6 months of training, I took confidence in nothing. Literally nothing… haha yikes.

I’m frustrated because it feels like a wasted opportunity. I’m upset because I perceive it as failure. And I’m disappointed because I did a poor job of taking confidence in the only one who, time after time, I’ve learned I can put my total faith and trust in: Jesus.

I tried to carry my nerves and anxieties myself this weekend. HUGE mistake.

My coach, Rob Myers, always talks with me about having an unwavering faith. He talks about trusting that I am fit enough, fast enough, and strong enough regardless of outside circumstances. He talks about having faith in the process. He talks about having trust even in situations when I feel a lack of control.

This past weekend, I did a poor job with each of those, and the results reflected it. Because of that, I perceived this weekend as a failure. But Rob also talks about the fact that failure has more to do with our perception than our reality.

After my race, I talked with Rob, and he shared with me a simple message:

“Perceived failure isn’t really failure… it’s really just part of the bigger picture. Its part of the process; Its part of life.”

I have faith in my ability to bounce back. I have hope in the fact that I will lace my spikes up again and yield a different result.  And I have trust in the process– even though the process is sometimes hard and painful.

Most importantly, I have faith, hope, and trust in a God who loves me and cares about me regardless of results on the track—regardless of my “perceived failure.” I know He has a perfect plan, and I know that part of His plan requires some hard parts in the journey… but that still doesn’t make it any easier right now.

That results from that prelim still sting. I think they will for a while. Rob only allowed me 30 minutes to be totally upset about it. But I’ve bottled up some of those emotions and am saving them for motivational fuel for the next time around.

However; I am an optimist. And because of that fact, I keep coming back to a single thought:

How lucky am I?

How lucky am I to chase a dream I care so passionately about that it painfully hurts when I don’t succeed during parts of the journey?

How lucky am I to have a coach that has so much faith in my abilities that he can brush aside messy and poor results and say, “I still believe in you. Let’s get better for outdoor?”

How lucky am I to even have the opportunity to be disappointed, to be let down?

How lucky am I to have a God full of grace, a God that looks past my mistakes, my imperfections, and my insecurities, and loves me one hundred percent?

How lucky am I to have the incredible support team of people that rally behind me through this process? Columbus Running Company, my family, my medical support, my friends. Seriously, every single text, every single good luck call, every single prayer… I will be forever thankful.

Like Rob reminded me, perceived failure is not failure. It’s just life. Whether its with running, a job, school, relationships, or anything else, its part of the journey. It’s part of loving the hard.

Kelsey Bruce, I know what you meant now. Part of me wishes I didn’t. But most of me is glad I do. Loving the hard is what makes the success so sweet. Experiencing the hard is what gives you battle scars to show off when you’re standing on the other side. Like you said, the hard is worth it. I got some battle scars this weekend, but I know I’ll be just fine.

Because, how lucky am I?

It’s time for Outdoor.

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Until the next one…

“Patience, Young Grasshopper”

“Patience, young grasshopper!” is a phrase that I have become rather accustomed to hearing over my 22 years of life.

I’m not a very patient person. At all.

I am the person that honks at the car in front of me if they don’t immediately press the accelerator after the light turns green. I am the person that tells someone the gift that I got them for Christmas on December 20th because I just can’t wait any longer to give it to them. I am the person that drives in the left lane to pass all of the slow cars. I am the person that DREADS boarding airplanes because the process takes SO LONG and is SO INEFFICIENT.

I am the person that everyone constantly reminds, “Patience, young grasshopper.”

The problem with my high-expectations-purely-results-based-impatient living style is that racing does not jive well with that mentality.

Quite frankly, most things in life that are difficult to achieve do not jive well with that mentality.

In racing, and most other difficult to attain situations in life, there are walls. And in order accomplish any goal you set out to accomplish, you have to break those walls down. And to break them down, it takes time. You have to hit the walls over and over and over and over and over and over and over again before they even start to budge.

To break the walls, it takes patience.

Right now, I’m learning patience. I’m hitting the same wall. Over and over and over and over and over again. On one hand, I’ve won all three of my past 800’s leading wire to wire without any rabbit. For anyone that runs track, you know that’s a really freaking hard way to race. And for anyone that doesn’t run, racing that way is basically like playing tag but having the person who is “it” chase you the entire time.

On the other hand, the times I’ve thrown down are nowhere close to the level that I’ve been training at. It’s incredibly frustrating to look at the clock and know its not reflective of my current fitness level. It feels like the wall is just refusing to fall.

But the Wall’s failure to fall does not equate to my failure to succeed.

It simply means that I must continue to be patient. I must continue trusting, having faith, and swinging for the wall. My favorite author, Bob Goff, says it best.

“Failure is just a part of the process, and it’s not just okay; its better than okay. God doesn’t want failure to shut us down. God didn’t make it a three-strikes-and-you’re-out sort of thing. It’s more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so we can swing for the fences again. And all of this without keeping a meticulous record of our screw-ups.” -Bob Goff

This weekend after my race, my coach reminded me that my faith and my patience are equally as important as my training and my racing. He candidly told me, “You don’t need a coach to write your training. You’re old enough and experienced enough now to do that for yourself. You need a coach to remind you to have faith. You need a coach to encourage you to be patient. Take a deep breath. Exhale. And trust the process.”

Sometimes, I get so sucked up into the here and the now, that I forget that running and life is a process. Trusting the process requires an incredible amount of patience, and an even larger amount of faith.

I put my faith in the gospel of Jesus.

I define myself not by the time on the clock, but rather who I am through Christ. This allows me to swing for the fences and make dents in the wall over and over and over again because at the end of the day, I am loved regardless.

This allows me to be patient and trust the process because I know The One who holds the future. I know The One who loves endlessly. I know The One who knows no failure. I know The One who whispers, “patience, young grasshopper,” when I am at my breaking point.

For now, I will keep lacing up my spikes and toe the line again. It’s time for this young grasshopper to make some more dents in that wall… because I know that it’s bound to fall with patience.

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“Patience, young grasshopper.”