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INSPIRED! - Days 15 - 21

Day 15:

The act of running both requires the use of energy, but also makes energy. I have two children with mitochondrial disease. In short, that means that their bodies not only use up too much energy to do simple things like breath, eat and walk, but they also don’t make energy as well as they should, especially for children. While running today, I thought about what a blessing it is just to have the ability to do this. No matter how hard it feels for me at times, I know my body is capable. The majority of the hard parts are really just in my mind and not truly in my body after all. While we strive to send the message to our “mito kids” that they can and should try anything they are interested in and never assume that they can’t because of their disease, I know that actions speak louder than words. My hope is that through observing me challenging my normal healthy body the courage to challenge their own bodies, despite true physical limitations won’t seem quite so out of reach. 

Day 16:

Officially halfway through! While each run seems to last a lot longer than its actual time (15 minutes of Netflix and 15 minutes of running are NOT the same amount of time. The act of running surely transports you to a different time continuum. I will never believe otherwise, thank you very much), these two weeks have thankfully gone by quickly.   

Today, as I completed my 16 minutes, I looked down to snap the ceremonial sneaker picture and saw a sidewalk chalk message reading, “Thank you”. Admittedly, this message was not meant for me. I live close to a branch of Novant Health offices whose nurses regularly take a lunchtime walk on our neighborhood path. The “thank you” was meant as an encouraging message to them. It did, however, prompt me to be mindful of all of the things that deserve my thankfulness as I do this run every single day.  

Thank you to my own body for enduring discomfort, shoddy breathing and years of neglect but still showing up every day and mustering the strength to do this dang thing anyway.  

Thank you to God for using this as a simple backdrop to illuminate some really important truths and lessons.  

Thank you to my husband for being super encouraging, juggling the kids while he works from home and heaping on the pride every day that I return dripping from the day’s run and for not even acting a little doubtful about my ability to meet this goal for even a milli-second.  Thank you to Charlotte Athlete for seeing the meaning and importance behind sharing this comparatively small goal with others and still qualifying it as “athletic”.  

Day 17:

With yesterday being the halfway mark of this “project” and today the first day of the second half, the feeling I had setting out on my run would best be described as monotony. Here’s the truth. Anytime there is a goal that requires any type of repetitive work for an extended period of time, much of that “middle” consists of a whole lot of unexciting showing up and just getting it done. At the moment, I’m also writing a book. This applies with that project as well. In fact, it’s exactly the same. With both projects, there was a great deal of excitement and anticipation which was also highlighted by the unknown details in the beginning. Will my body really keep up with adding a minute to my running endurance every single day? Is there really enough content in my brain to translate into 60-65,000 typed words? You tell people about your new project or goal and let the outside praise and excitement power you into the first leg of the work. Then, inevitably people go back to their own lives and goals and you’re alone with the work of your goal. The end result is reliant on your own resolve to simply show up and run the minutes, write the words. Not every run will feel strong and life-changing and not every writing session will seem inspired.

Ironically, when starting both projects it served me best to focus only on the day’s goal and forgetting about the end result. Imagining myself running 31 minutes straight seemed unattainable as did thinking about the time and effort involved in putting 65,000 whole words onto a computer screen. I could, however, wrap my head around just 4,5 or 6 minutes or just 1,000 words.  

Now, having just passed the halfway mark in both projects I’ve found that I need to switch my focus. The excitement of the unknown that existed in the beginning has fizzled. Running just for today’s 17 minutes by myself on the same old path or writing just for today’s 1,000 words which may or may not make it past the final edit seems meaningless UNLESS I run not for the results of today but for the results of May 31st and write not just for today but with the picture of that final published manuscript.  

If I focus on THOSE things, I remember that there is a purpose far greater than the seemingly rote task I’m actually doing in real time and I can forget how monotonous it really is.   

Day 18:

I read this before my run today, “Do not blindly follow your habitual route or you will miss what I have planned for you.” (Jesus Calling Devotional by Sarah Young). With that in mind, I ran mindfully absorbing the beauty of the wooded path around me. Around the 15 minute mark I rounded a narrow corner of the path still concentrating on the foliage around me and was amazed to see a heron standing quietly among the trees. I never would have seen him if I had been solely focused on the paved path ahead of me per usual.  

The best part about the heron sighting isn’t the heron itself, but rather the message of what a heron symbolizes and the perfection of how that message fits into my life right now. Per a quick google search: “The heron symbolizes stillness and tranquility, and how these two things are needed to recognize opportunities. It also signifies determination, because there will be plenty of marshes and ponds that you will wade through in life as well. The meaning of the heron speaks about your sense of independence.”  

Yes, yes and yes to all of it. Message received and absorbed.  

Day 19: -Slow and steady wins the race.  

 Today’s forecast called for rain all day long. It rained through the early morning hours but then miraculously the rain stopped just before my run, leaving cool temps and a great breeze to run with. That being said, the path was quite muddy and slick with lots of puddles. In order to avoid an accidental injury from slipping or completely soaking my shoes I decided to just run at a constant slow speed for the entire run. Typically, I start my run off at a slow pace, moving to a comfortable moderate pace as I warm up, running quickly up any hills, slowing way down for 20 seconds or so afterward to compensate and then finally getting as close to a sprint as I can handle for the last few minutes. Today, I started at a speed a bit faster than I had been, but a bit slower than my typical “moderate speed” and then stayed there the entire time. It turns out that sometimes, consistency even at a slower pace will sometimes get you much further. This turned out to be the case today as I noticed that by the 17 minute mark I had run much further on the path than I had even by 18 minutes yesterday.  

Day 20:

I had prepared to really hate my run today. The forecast had called for high winds and an 85%-100% chance of rain all day long. I really hate rain. Even when I don’t have to actually go out in it, just watching it pour from the gloomy gray skies outside the window makes me feel sluggish, tired and a bit melancholy. Before this month I never, ever would have even come close to considering running for 20 minutes in the rain. However, I made a promise to myself at the very beginning of the month that the ONLY thing that I would allow to interrupt this mission would be serious injury. So, starting last night I had prepared to power through it, picking out clothing I thought would feel less oppressive when soaked and purchasing some ziplock bags so I could still carry my phone with me without ruining it with moisture.  

When I woke up this morning, it was sprinkling ever so slightly. This continued as I had my coffee and fed my little people. Then, as I laced up my sneakers, prepared to head out I noticed the rain had stopped. A quick glance at the weather app on my phone showed that the forecast had undergone a slight change. Now, instead of steady rain predicted all day, a slight break had appeared just for an hour right at that exact time-a little gift of appreciation from the One who controls the weather.  

As I stepped outside, unseasonably cold temps and energetic winds smacked me in the face. I’m sorry to say that my immediate thought was how miserable the run would probably still feel in the cold wind, despite the gift of dryness.  

Thankfully, after the first 5 minutes my prematurely judged, miserable run turned out to be so enjoyable not d espite the low temps and wind but b ecause of them! That low temp which felt chilly when I first stepped onto my porch translated to a sweat free, absolutely perfect body temp for my entire run. That extra wind turned into streams of oxygen pouring effortlessly through my body creating lots of extra energy for the whole 20 minutes.   

How many times in my life have I prematurely judged something to be unenjoyable and as a result missed out on something positive? When have I held back from doing something that could have been great because the conditions didn’t fit my own personal ideals? I’m sure the answer amounts to more than I’d like to admit. Going forward, here’s to having the open-mindedness to “go running” even when the conditions look different than what I think is ideal.  

Day 21:  

Wow, day 2 of the Weather Man stopping the constant rain only exactly long enough for me to have a “dry run”. Today, the rain stopped at the exact moment I stepped onto my front porch and reconvened the second I opened my front door. I mean… if that’s not a clear sign of God teaming up with me in this endeavor I don’t know what is.  

Despite that, when running on a rough paved path through a wooded area after it’s been raining for a day and a half, the journey is going to involve some puddles and a little bit of mud, which was the case today. At first, I found myself intent on avoiding the many puddles both big and small in front of me as well as any patches of mud. Not only did this probably look hilarious if there had happened to be anyone around to see it, but it also had the potential to make this run unnecessarily difficult and unpleasant. And for what? To avoid getting a little water and mud on my sneakers? I quickly abandoned my approach and ran straight, ignoring most all the puddles and mud.  

The truth is that in both running and in life great strides are made when we stop being afraid of getting a little wet and dirty. Life isn’t always clean and dry. Therefore, to keep a steady pace through it, we’re all gonna have to splash through a muddy puddle or two at some point. Thankfully, water dries and mud wipes off.