Choose Resilience.

I ran 10 miles today. All at once. Totally healthy.

It’s been one year since I got stuck in the cycle of sickness and injuries. And today, on Earth Day, I got to enjoy 10 gorgeous pain free miles. What a beautiful reminder of God’s redeeming love and grace.

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So many times over the past year, I’ve been faced with the decision to choose resilience or choose despair. I fought like heck each and every time to chose resilience. As I was finishing up mile 10 today, I couldn’t help but smile through my spit-filled face.

I was so glad I battled to choose resilience.

I believe that finding something we are passionate about is a unique and fragile gift. Along with passion, though, comes real life. And in real life, obstacles get thrown at us to test our passion. I think the true test of passion is whether or not we choose resilience over despair.

It is often far too easy to curl up in a ball, play the blame game, feel sorry for ourselves, and binge on Netflix and Chocolate ice cream– essentially holding up a sign for the world to see reading, “I choose despair, please feel bad for me!” It is far more difficult to choose resilience. Resilience is choosing to hold on to hope, despite the fact that we might get kicked in the face and run over EVEN if we are doing all the right things– a lesson my former coach taught me all too well.

Recently, I’ve been reminded of something that makes it much easier to choose resilience.

Nobody, including God, promised me a great outcome even if I’m working hard. God didn’t promise that this life would be easy.

God didn’t promise us that if we did everything we were “supposed to do” and “played by the rules” that life would be #awesome and #blessed all the time.

What He did promise is that despite all of the pain, brokenness, and heartache that we face in this world, we get to spend an eternity with Him. Despite our sinful nature, Jesus still died on the Cross so that we could inherit The Kingdom of Heaven. Cue Easter.Bitmoji Image

I’ve tried to make a habit of writing down promises I’ve made up in my head verses promises that are actually true.

For example:

Made up promise: I am loved because of my athletic talents and outgoing personality.

True Promise: I am loved solely because Jesus died for my sins. And that love cannot be broken.

Here’s another example:

Made Up Promise: If I work hard and do the right things, I will not get injured, get sick, or be forced to take days / years off.

True Promise: I live in a sinful world and will experience heartache. I will only be in a perfect world in Heaven.

I think calling out fake verses real promises in life makes it easier to choose resilience, even when my brain would rather choose despair. This practice is a good reminder to me that ultimately, I am not looking to inherit the Earth, but rather the Kingdom of God. Knowing that one day I’ll get to spend an eternity with Jesus makes choosing resilience a no brainier. Every. Single. Time.

It’s been a battle. Choosing resilience has required me to fight tooth and nail through some pretty tough days.

But it’s been so worth it.

I know The Lord much better as a result. And I’m that much more passionate about the fragile gift that I chose to protect: running.

Doing a mini celebration right now because… I mean… 10 miles. It’s been a long time coming. God is restorative.

There is still a lot of distance to go, quite figuratively and literally, before I am back to where I was at before getting sick. But until then, I will continue to choose resilience. It’s totally, unequivocally, worth it:)

Happy Easter, Happy Earth Day, and Happy 70 degrees and Sunny!

~ Rachel Weber<3

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Not About The Circumstances.

A few weeks ago, Minori emailed the CRC Elite team reminding us to post our 2019 goals. This was the email I was absolutely DREADING.

A year ago, I made some pretty gutsy running goals for 2018. I didn’t achieve any of them. 2018 was filled with many, many athletic disappointments due to the state of my health. Drawing up new goals for a new year was the last thing I wanted to do.

After battling mystery health issues, getting sick with Mono for 2 months on top of the mystery health issues, and spending more time at doctors’ offices than I spent in a pair of running shoes, 2018 left me feeling exhausted, empty, and depleted.

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The past 12 months have challenged my love for this sport more than ever before. I’ve had feelings of negativity, bitterness, and frustration. I’ve felt like a failure. I’ve wondered how I was ever able to do half the workouts I was able to do a year ago. I’ve felt the tease of being able to run for a few weeks, only to encounter more health issues and sidelined once again. I’ve felt sad. I’ve felt embarrassed. I’ve countlessly questioned my ability to step up to a start line again, knowing that right now, I’m not the athlete I used to be.

I spent a good deal of time in 2018 trying to avoid situations that would require me to use the platform God has given me through running to influence the lives of others. I falsely believed that if I wasn’t running, God couldn’t use me. I thought that if I was failing to meet my 2018 goals for running, that somehow made me less valuable to the Lord. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t stay healthy. I was frustrated that we couldn’t figure out how to stop the autoimmune flare up cycle that my body seemed to be stuck in.

After lots of doctor visits, a scope of my intestines, and trying and failing of different treatment techniques, a Gastroenterologist recently asked if I had ever been treated for anxiety.

Anxiety? What does that have to do with anything?

Apparently a lot….

I had no idea that untreated anxiety could literally cause your body to shut down and start attacking itself, producing an autoimmune response. And this Gastroenterologist thought that treating me for anxiety would help stop the autoimmune cycle. Stop the inflammation. Stop the stomach issues. Stop the hair falling out. Stop the headaches. Stop it all.

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I’ve always had the Type-A, go-getter, slightly high strung personality. I’ve also always worried slightly more than my peers (See my worry worry poem published in first grade writing class). This anxiety stuff was something that probably should have been addressed a while ago, but my stubborn competitive attitude pushed it out of the way and under the rug.

 

While I saw a counselor in college to help deal with anxiety, I never did anything beyond that. I thought that since I was a relatively happy and positive person, I didn’t need medicine to help me deal with my anxiety. Besides, I decided taking medicine for anxiety would mean risking potential side effects I deemed detrimental to my performance on the track– a risk I “didn’t have time to deal with.”

I thought I was fine. I was tough. I didn’t need the help of medicine.

Turns out, I wasn’t fine.

I might have been tough, but the human brain is powerful! I did need the help of medicine. I needed to stop being stubborn and address the problem head on. For some reason, I felt as if addressing the problem head on would give me less of a competitive edge. I thought it would be an imperfection, somehow making me “less tough” and “more vulnerable.” So, I (wrongly) let it go.

That is– I let it go until things spun out of control, and my own body started attacking itself. The result of not addressing the problem started to have some really nasty physical effects that reared their ugly head all of 2018.

I’ve been working closely with my doctor to follow a game plan. I am happy to report that as of last week- I could take showers without my hair falling out! I have healthier joints. I have MUCH healthier (and more solid) digestive habits.

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I know that this is something I’ll have to continue to address and work through. I’ve pushed it aside for a while– there’s a lot of work left to be done. But right now, it feels like I have the ability to feel healthy for the first time in over a year. And that is an amazing feeling.

 

I wish I could be positive and cliche and and say that I “learned so much about myself in 2018” and I “wouldn’t change anything because everything happens for a reason,” but that wouldn’t be real. While I did learn a lot, and I firmly believe that God has a reason for everything, even pain and sorrow, there are a lot of things that I wish were different about 2018. I won’t dwell on those things. But, I would be remiss if I wasn’t transparent. Despite having many things to celebrate this year, it has been a tough season of life.

Sometimes, life stings. Sometimes, our circumstances really stink.bye 2018

What I DO know is that God worked in 2018 even through the tough parts. Even when I felt tired, depleted, and run down, He was working, planning, and providing. One of my favorite authors, Bob Goff, writes it best:

“God invites us to be part of His plans. Not approve them.”

-Bob Goff.

God doesn’t need my approval on 2018. He’s God. But He does invite me to be part of those plans. And that’s an invitation I will always accept.

Ultimately, accepting this invitation instead of being mad that God didn’t ask for my approval led to a few things that I can honestly say changed my life.

1. I get to marry my best friend in 2019.

2. I have the honor of teaching math to 100 6th graders in Franklinton. I work for a network where I get to help fight the social injustice that many children in this country face. I firmly believe that your zip code should NOT determine the quality of education you receive. I have the best job ever.

3. I know that I am loved by friends, family, Sean, and most of all The Lord NOT due to my athletic talents, but because of my heart.

Amidst all of the pain, anxiety, and frustration this year, I’ve also felt love.

A tremendous amount of love. Love from my former college teammates, who let me sit on their couches, drink coffee, and cry. Love from my fiance, who reminds me every single day that I am loved because of who I am, not what I do. Love from friends, family, co-workers, and sisters. Most importantly, I’ve felt love from a God that cares about me regardless of my circumstances. He loves me because He loves me. No strings attached. And in the midst of the most trying year of my life, that is the hope I chose to cling to.

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One of my favorite things that God did in 2018 was protect my passion for a sport I love, even when I felt like I was hanging on by a thread. Even when looking at a pair of spikes or flats made me bitter, frustrated, and filled my eyes with tears. Somehow, God protected that passion, fragile as it was. He protected it. 

My love for this sport extends far beyond a couple PR’s, US Qualifiers, and awesome workouts. My love for this sport is not circumstantial. My love for this sport exists because it has made my faith stronger. My love for this sport exists because it is how I’ve made life long friendships with the people I love the most. My love for this sport exists because God gave me a heart for the people in and surrounding it.

It’s not about our circumstances. It’s about our hearts.

God is busy creating a beautiful heart in each and every one of us. But sometimes, that can be really painful, hard, and frustrating. 2018 was hard. Really hard. But that didn’t stop God from doing beautiful work in my heart. And it never will.

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So these are my running goals for 2019. If they happen, great. If not, I’ll continue to accept God’s invitation. And I know he will continue to make my heart beautiful.

1. Help the CRC Elite Women to a Top 2 Team Finish at the 2019 Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago, Illinois.

2. Place top 3 at the Cap City Half-Marathon on April 27th, 2019.

3. Help start the first Track & Field team at CCA-Dana Middle School. Help at least one kid fall in love with the sport that has given so much to me.

4. Run under 2:45 for the marathon or 1:13 for the half @ the Columbus Marathon in Fall 2019.

5. Run a 5k with my future Husband. (He doesn’t know about this one!)

Happy New Year, Friends! Have fun chasing 2019 goals, but don’t forget that whether or not we achieve them all, God gives us an invitation to join Him even in our perceived failure. God is busy doing work on our hearts and making them beautiful. Ultimately, that is what matters the most.

Godspeed

~ RunRach

Re-Routing a Dream

I got caught in the rain yesterday. I was driving East on 270. It was sunny and beautiful outside. There was not a cloud in the sky, that I could see. If I would have checked my rear-view mirror, I would have noticed the dark and daunting clouds approaching from the West. Instead, I was focused on the sunshine and blue skies ahead of me.

Then, the rain hit. It caught me off guard. After all– I hadn’t seen any clouds. As far as I was concerned, I was driving into what seemed like a perfect summer day. But the rain came from behind. It was the kind of rain that slicked up the road in 30 seconds or less. It was the kind of rain that required the turbo-speed on my windshield wipers. It was the kind of rain that required all of my attention, all of my focus, with zero distractions if I wanted to safely navigate my car out of the situation. It was the kind of rain that required me to pull over at a gas station, put my trip on hold, and decide whether or not the conditions were safe enough for me to get back on the road.

Yesterday’s rainstorm felt like a real life metaphor of my past 10 months.

The Time I Was Looking Ahead But Should Have Been Checking My Rear-View Mirror:

Last November, I began to struggle with some health issues. I lost a lot of weight very suddenly. I was on and off sick most of November, and had the flu for three weeks in December. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it. I brushed the weight loss off as a natural byproduct of more intense training and the sickness off to a really bad flu season that was impacting everyone. Training had been going well, and I was excited to get off the roads and onto the track. I was looking at the sunshine and blue skies ahead. I probably should have checked my rear-view mirror.

January hit, and I still couldn’t shake off the sickness. I was over the flu, but was still spiking fevers in the afternoon. Despite these sickness bouts, I ran my fastest indoor season opener of my life, so I ignored the fact that I wasn’t feeling well because clearly my health was not impacting my running– or so I thought.

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Indoor Track Season Post-Flu races (not the most fun).

As February (and the Indoor US Championships) approached, my health continued to spiral. I was exhausted all the time, felt sick constantly, and had some pretty achy joints. I chalked all of this up to “Indoor track is hard, I’ll feel better outdoor!” I was relentless in pursuit of my goals, and stubborn to the fact that my body was trying to tell me something. My friends and family were worried about me. One of my friends in medical school encouraged me to go see a doctor saying something about “auto-immune” or something… I didn’t listen. I should have listened.

Outdoor season started in March, and my coach began to pull me from workouts. I was not myself. At this point, I weighed significantly less than I weighed the previous year. A couple times over Spring Break, I had to move workout days because sometimes I would wake up, and my knees would be so swollen that even getting out of bed was difficult. I vividly remember being down in Raleigh, stepping off the plane, and feeling incredibly sick. That same weekend, I did something to my knee during pre-race and DNF’d my first race of my entire running career.

After all of this, my natural thought was that I was over-training. My coach and I sat down and made a new training plan. I took a few days off, then a few weeks for cross training. When I returned to running, my workouts were not much harder than they were when I was in high school. Even after these extreme changes to my training, my health continued to worsen.

The Time When I Finally Checked My Rear-View Mirror, But The Rain Had Already Hit:

I was in the middle of a workout one afternoon in April when I sat down on the track mid-500 and started crying. Everything hurt. I was tired of being tired. I was tired of having swollen joints. I was tired of having stomach issues and losing weight. I was tired of being 100% committed to keeping my body healthy, but feeling like my body gave me nothing in return.

Running, the thing that I used to love so much, was now the cause of pain, hurt, and frustration both physically and emotionally.

It was time to go to the doctor.

The Time When I Decided The Safest Thing To Do was Pull Off the Side of the Road at a Gas Station (Or a Doctor’s Office):

It was hard to email all of the meet directors on my spring schedule and drop out of meets that I had worked hard to get into. But I had to take a break– I had to “pull over”– to figure out how to get healthy again.

After lots of blood-work, tests, and doctor visits, we figured out why I felt so terrible. I had a high presence of Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA) in my body. Simply put, these are antibodies that attack your own healthy cells and tissues in your body and cause inflammation. No wonder I felt so awful!

These types of antibodies are present during cases of autoimmune diseases. My friend in med school was right. I had an autoimmune condition. There are HUNDREDS of autoimmune diseases, but a couple common ones are Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. After further testing, doctors did find some specific antibodies associated with each of those diseases. Doctors went back and forth, but since my organs were properly functioning (YIPPEE!), they decided to leave my diagnosis unspecific as “an un-diagnosed autoimmune disease.” Autoimmune diseases are SUPER WEIRD, and sometimes it takes years of continuing flare ups to pinpoint exactly which disease a person has 😦

The Time I Evaluated Whether It Was Safe To Get Back on the Road (or Back to Running):

Throughout this process, I attempted to train when I could. Unfortunately, high intensity running made my symptoms much worse. I would go to work out and come back with swollen ankles, swollen wrists, or a high fever.

Stress on the body causes autoimmune flare-ups (increased disease activity). Running– especially anaerobic 800 meter training– causes lots of stress on the body. Autoimmune diseases do not go away, so I knew I would have to figure out how to navigate this whole running thing without putting too much stress on my body. For me, that meant that while running could still be part of my life, I was going to have to chill out a bit if I wanted to stay healthy and flare-up free.

The Time I Got Back on The Road, But On a Slightly Different Route:

I talk a lot about athletic goals and dreams on this blog. I talk a lot about having the courage to take risks and chances. But I don’t talk as much about goals and dreams or risks and chances outside the scope of running.

My goals and dreams have always been to end up in education after I was done racing and traveling every weekend. Not just education, I wanted to end up in urban education teaching math. I thought that would probably happen later in my 20s. Due to the state of my health, I really started to think about what it would look like to teach this year.

Since I knew that running was going to look different for me moving forward, I also knew that I no longer wanted my work-from-home digital marketing position. That job was great for me while pursuing my on-the-track running dreams. But since racing most weekends and training at the intensity I was training at was no longer in the cards for me, that digital marketing position didn’t make much sense anymore.

I literally googled something to the tune of “Urban teaching jobs, Columbus.” I was able to obtain a form of an Ohio Teaching Licence due to all of my math and sciences classes in college. I took a huge risk and went through a lengthy interview process for a teaching position at Columbus Collegiate Academy (CCA). I eventually got hired to teach 6th grade math at CCA-Dana through United Schools Network. 

I accepted the position– my dream job off the track.

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The amazing group of educators at CCA-Dana 🙂 Photo Credit: CCA-Dana Insta

This summer, I have been going through intense training, coaching, and professional development to get ready to welcome 100 6th-graders on August 22nd. I could not be more excited to be part of the passionate team of educators at CCA-Dana. I strongly believe that a student’s zip code should not determine their educational opportunity. I love that I get to teach alongside coworkers who feel just as passionately as I feel about closing the opportunity gap that exists in today’s education system.

This summer, I also started taking medicine to suppress my immune system from being over-active and attacking my own body. At first, this was awesome! I stopped having joint pain, joint swelling went down, and I felt much better overall! But then, I got mononucleosis due to having a suppressed immune system. I decided that being on medicine had some pretty nasty side effects, and I wanted to find a more natural remedy outside of medicine to prevent my immune system from going rouge.

My doctor talked to me about cutting gluten out of my diet. At first, I was not a huge fan. How could cutting gluten out of my diet help me actually gain weight back, fix the joint and fatigue issues I was having, and bring my immune system back to normal again? But after looking at the research on it, I bought in.

It made the world of a difference. I gained all of my weight back in 4 weeks, and the joint issues went away almost entirely. I still have flare ups every once in a while (and usually it happens when I push my body too hard on a run), but minor flare ups once in a while are something I can deal with in comparison to what I felt like prior to figuring out what triggered these flare ups.

I am (slowly) trying to get back to training. I know that running will never look exactly the same as it did before. But I am okay with that. This health hiccup allowed me to pursue another dream, a dream off the track.

The Time I Found More Peace With Being Re-Routed:

It took a long time for me to have the courage to sit down and write this post. Part of me feels like I’m quitting on a dream I’ve been relentlessly pursuing and working towards for a long long time. The realistic part of me knows that even if my heart and my attitude are in the right place, it would be foolish of me to keep beating my body and putting it back in the position it was in five months ago– sick, unhealthy, and weak. And the emotional part of me feels like putting this into words has a sort of finality to it that I wasn’t quite ready to face.

Yesterday, my sister tagged me in a post that gave me the nudge I needed to share about what The Lord has been doing and teaching me in my life.

The post was from the wonderful Olympian Abbey Cooper (D’Agostino). First, she referenced Ephesians 3:20:

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever amen.” – Eph. 3:20

Then, she wrote this:

“#tbt to exactly two years ago when God put this ^ verse center stage. Often, the detour hurts. Always, the result is far more abundant than we ever dared hope.” – Abbey Cooper (D’Agostino)

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^Pursuing this dream led to the pursuing of my ultimate dream, even though there was a lot of pain.

I still have dreams, lots of them. My detour hurt. A lot. But it led to another dream. A dream that I might not have had the courage to pursue had I not, quite literally, been forced into it due to my health. A dream that God put on my heart far before I ever dreamed any of my lofty running goals. A dream to help close the education gap. A dream to teach kids how to dream.

 

While my body cannot handle the type of training required for the 800 (anaerobic training), my body has been able to handle some forms of aerobic training. My hope is that as my health continues to get better, I’ll be able to get to the point were I can at least run every day again.

It will be slow, and it will be a process, but I firmly believe that my story is not over… it just looks quite different now. While I never want to put myself back in the position I was in five months ago, I cannot help the fact that I am a competitive person 🙂

Health willing, I am shooting for an Olympic Trials Qualifying Time in the half marathon. Considering I was a half miler- this is a CRAZY BIG goal. I understand this might not happen. I greatly respect the difficulty level of the US B-standard in the half marathon. Half miler to half marathoner– that has a pretty interesting ring to it! But considering the fact that aerobic half marathon training is the only thing my body seems to be able to handle right now, I am going to take what God is giving me.

Ultimately, what God is giving me is the opportunity to pursue my dream of teaching with the level of effort, tenacity, and relentlessness that I used to pursue my track dreams with. I have the opportunity to focus on the kiddos I’ll be teaching, while also dabbling in my passion for running as much as my body allows.

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Shout-out to Coach Rob Myers for teaching me how to dream, and walking through parts of the storm with me.

The past 10 months have brought moments of extreme sadness and extreme happiness, moments of piercing pain and sorrow, moments of elation, moments of frustration, and  every emotion in between. I am so thankful to those in my life that chose to walk through a really tough season with me, hunker down, and face the storm I never saw coming.

Sometimes, it rains, and you know the rain is coming because you are facing West. You can see the clouds in the distance. You can anticipate how bad the storm will be. You can gather your things, go inside, and hunker down– ready to face the storm.

Other times, it rains, and you are facing East. The rain comes, and it totally takes over. You are unprepared. You get soaking wet. You can barely see. This is what happened to me. Literally, it happened yesterday. Metaphorically, this has been my life for the past ten months. I was facing East. The rain consumed me. I felt caught in a storm, trapped and unprepared.

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Major shout-out to this guy. He saw the messy parts of the storm and still decided he wanted to marry me 🙂

All times, when the rain comes, Our God fights. He fights for us. He fights with us. He fights when we cannot see, when we are barely breathing. He fights when we are sick and do not know our next move. He fights when we are pulled over on the side of the road because we can barely see the road ahead of us. He fights for our dreams, and then re-routes us towards His dreams, for His Glory.

I am thankful my journey was re-routed, no matter how much pain the process caused. There is so much to be celebrated.

-Ms. Weber, 6th Grade Math, CCA-Dana 🙂

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Shout-out to former roommate, Bianca, for the shirt 🙂 

There is Joy in the Rain; Learn to Dance.

Two days ago, I watched an American woman win Boston for the first time in 33 years.

I watched the live-stream during class. I usually am always attentive in class, but historical moments, like Desiree Linden winning Boston, call for temporary lapses in normality.

I could watch that race 100 times more.

I want to be like Des. I want to push on and persist in the rain, the cold and the snow. I want to grit my teeth over the hills. I want to enjoy the peaks and get through the valleys. I want to die a thousand deaths but keep fighting strong. I want to cross the finish line at the end of the day and collapse in exhaustion, elation, and joy. I want to have grit that overlooks my present pain and circumstances.

I want to dance through the rain and have grit like Des.

That’s what Des did. In her own way, she danced.

That’s something I’m learning to do right now– dance. Both literally and figuratively. I think everyone who knows me knows that I’m one of the worlds worst dancers. My arms and my legs don’t move in sync unless it’s in an athletic setting like running, basketball, or soccer.

But in a more figurative sense, I’m learning to press through trials and grit my teeth, knowing there is meaning and purpose behind them. A few weeks ago, I got an in-season-injury for the first time in my entire 11 years of being a track athlete. I was doing a pre-race warm up drill that I’ve done thousands of times before, and I came down on my knee the wrong way. Before I got imaging, my knee was presenting as an injury that was much more serious than what the MRI results wound up showing.

Turns out, I just sprained my MCL (I didn’t even know that was a thing) and I was only out for a couple weeks. I maintained fitness in the pool and I’m back to working out on the ground already. I got lucky. Really lucky.

While the time I was sidelined was short-lived, I still spent every single one of those days staring at the black stripe on the bottom of the pool for two hours straight, wishing that I was anywhere else. I spent the time in my day that I wasn’t cross training feeling bad that I felt bad about being injured. At some point along the line, I realized that being mad about the situation I was in was only inhibiting my ability to be the best I could be on a daily basis. If I couldn’t be my best, both physically and mentally, during times of rain, then how could I expect to be ready for tough races?

I didn’t have to like the fact that I was in the pool, but I did have to embrace it.

I had to dance even though it was raining. I had to find joy even through my frustrations, because finding joy in the rain and continuing to dance made me tougher.

My coach is a big believer in this. One of his fundamental values is toughness. Rob told me that when he was a kid, he would fill two buckets with heavy rocks and see how far he could carry the buckets without stopping. He also used to drink raw eggs just so that he could be tough like Rocky. It must have worked, because he eventually ran 3:34 in the 1500.

I look up to my coach a lot. He, like Des, has a relentless ability to press on even in the midst of tough conditions.  He has the figurative part of dancing in the rain down. He once told me that the reason he got emotional when he stood on the podium wasn’t because of how awesome making a podium was, it was due to the amount of toughness and grit he had to achieve to get to that position.

I could be off base, but I imagine that’s part of the same reason Des was emotional on Monday. Her relentless ability to dance in the rain inspires me.

In addition to the small injury hiccup recently, the past 10 months required more dancing in the rain than I ever thought running would ask of. Between running and life, I’ve had to re-calibrate my emotions on more than one occasion. I’ve learned that, to a certain extent, running is a lot less about who is more talented and a lot more about who can manage their emotions and fight harder.

The funny thing is that  I’m really excited about the rain I’ve had to dance through this year. Some of it was minor, like being injured for a couple weeks. And some of it was a little bit more serious.  Regardless, it’s all made me tougher.

I know that God gives me the strength to fight, be tough and be gritty no matter how minor or serious the storm. And I believe that He truly has an intentional purpose behind every moment I have to learn to dance through.

I’m still here. I’m still willing to bet on myself. I’m still dancing. In Desi’s words, I have to keep showing up, even if it takes me 13 years.

I know there is joy in the rain, and because of that, I am learning to dance.

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Thank you, Des, for the Rainy Day inspiration. Photo Credit: Michael Scott

 

Beneath My Feet

Written for #RunReadWrite– Lauren Fleshman’s five minute writing prompt, “Beneath my feet…”

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Beneath my feet, there is purpose. Every step has a meaning. Not one is an accident.

Beneath my feet, there is power. Literal actual power being transferred to the ground from the force at which I hit the ground multiplied by the velocity I am traveling.

Beneath my feet, there is joy. Joy from knowing The Lord. Joy from new opportunities. Each stride causes my heart to dance just a little bit, knowing that I’m getting better, knowing that I’m getting stronger.

Beneath my feet, there are blisters and calluses. Lots of them.  Blisters that reflect the pain that I willingly put myself through to push my limits. Calluses that reflect the hard work I put in day after day, week after week, month after month.

Beneath my feet, there are miles. Many many miles.

Beneath my feet there is love. Love for Jesus. Love for this sport. Love for the people in this sport.

Beneath my feet there is strength. Strength that gives my feet the ability to withstand the force of my body pushing down on the ground every time I strike.

Beneath my feet, there is faith. Faith to chase my dreams. Faith to take more risks. Faith in the gospel of Jesus.

Beneath my feet there is passion. Passion for racing. Passion for competing. Passion for life.

Beneath my feet, there is a story. A story of a girl with a dream. A story of trials. A story of triumphs. A story of heartache. A story of breakthroughs.

A story that is not finished.

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#RunReadWrite

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.”