Remember that running funk I wrote about a few weeks ago?
Yeah, it's not much better these days.
In true February fashion, I've been suffering the "winter blues" as a runner.
The problem this year? There really aren't any winter blues to be having in these parts of Kansas. Our weather (for the most part) has been exceptional and unseasonably warm. We've had more days in the 50s, 60s, and 70s with sunshine in February than the usual teens, 20s, and 30s. We've had one measly day of snow and a few bitter cold days, but that's it (so far) this month.
I'm not sure why, but despite the sunshine and warm-up, I'm stuck in the body of Olaf the Snowman, where it's constantly winter and a cloud hovers around my head as it sprinkles snowflakes. (Maybe I'm secretly wanting the snow and sad that it's not here yet? The only reason that's true is so we can get it over and done with now instead of March and April!).
I've spent more of my runs with heavy feet and legs, questioning why on earth I've decided to take on Marathon #4. I've sludged through some tempo runs and had lots of easy runs, simply because that pace is what I can handle (along with more walk breaks than I care for).
I dread the weekend long runs - I've done this with every marathon, but it feels different this time. I'm dealing with the usual anxiety and loneliness I get when planning and thinking about the miles that I'll be putting in on Saturday mornings. The loneliness of lacing up my shoes and kissing my kiddos and hubbie's sleepy foreheads as the sun slowly starts to rise on Saturday mornings so I can get 2+ hours of running in. The anxiety of looking down at my watch at Mile 4 and realizing I have another (gasp!) 10 more to go and I already feel like walking. Or that fact that I'm feeling this during the 14-milers and still have 16-, 18-, and 20-milers to go in the weeks ahead.
I write this not to get pity or a "you can do this!" I simply write this as a journal entry and to be honest - running just plain stinks right now. And sometimes - as in, ever since the calendar turned to 2015 - it has stunk for weeks on end.
But I keep pressing on. I keep improving. I keep lacing up my shoes and forcing myself out the door. I evaluate. I reach out to fellow runners. And then, after a while, I throw those evaluations out the door and just suck it up. Because one of these days - not knowing when! - it's gonna get better.
It has to. Why? Because all of my crappy days of running seem trivial compared to so many other stories I hear and read about day in and day out.
Like the mama who has battled cancer for years and is now nearing her final hours on earth. Instead of playing with her young children or going on dates with her husband, she's trying to live as comfortably as possible in a hospice house. And by God's grace, she continues to witness His incredible grace and mercy through her life experiences.
Or the mama friends who have experienced miscarriages in recent weeks. Who were about to make the news "facebook official" and instead quietly mourn the lost of a precious life with their close family and friends.
Or the friends who opened their home and hearts up to a sweet little girl in foster care, only months later to have her taken from the home and back to the family that didn't want her a year ago.
You see, these weeks of terrible running are nothing in comparison to the hurting and heartache weaving in and out of life for so many right now.
Talk about a gulp-worthy realization.
These stories flooded my mind while running through a slow and steady 14-miler today. It was around Mile 4, when I realized (painfully!) that I had another 10 miles. And then I was reminded of my purpose for 2015: to DIG DEEP.
Dig Deep for those who can't. Dig Deep like the incredible people mentioned above. Dig Deep to get stronger. Dig Deep to get better. Dig Deep, because that's the only option.
I won't lie - of the remaining 10 miles I had, only three of those were actually enjoyable this morning. And those 3 miles were with the best Dig Deep cheerleaders a mama on the run could ask for: hubs and two kidlets in the BOB - running, giggling, and sharing stories while the miles passed by, realizing that running is one fraction of this incredible life that God has given us.
Friends, remember to Dig Deep this week. In your time in God's Word. In your worship. In your family. In your work. In your day-to-day living. In every single mile left on the pavement.