Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Reflections From My First Half Marathon

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I've been running since I was in high school. I ran longer distances in track (1-mile, 2-mile, and 4x400 relay races) and cross-country, but stopped when my wife and I started having kids. I gained around 45 pounds and was very unhappy with my body and weight. It was difficult to walk any distances and going up stairs was exhausting; my legs just felt so heavy all the time. So I picked up running again a few years ago while also watching my diet (eating healthier foods and smaller portions) and was able to lose all those pounds! Over the last year or so, I've been maintaining my weight, diet, and exercise which has enabled me to focus on my running. At the beginning of this year, I decided I would sign up for a half marathon - a step towards something I've always wanted to try and accomplish (a full marathon). After training for 12 weeks (using Hal Higdon's Novice 2 program), I completed my first half marathon!

The race was more than just a run for me, however. I learned a lot about God and myself in the process; important lessons that He graciously revealed to me while training for and actually running the race. Here are a few of those lessons:

Runners: me, my wife, sister-in-law, father-in-law, and friend
God's joy: Running outdoors, seeing my body strengthen under discipline, and feeling the exhiliration of completing a race is such a wonderful experience. It's truly grace from God that I was able to train without injury and complete all 13.1 miles! Whenever I think of it, I thank Him for the gift of running.


God's strength: Throughout my training, I watched God sustaining me mentally and physically. When I thought I couldn't go any farther or run any faster, I would consider Him and what He has done for me, and somehow He carried me. I'm only an average runner - don't get me wrong - but God showed me what I can accomplish when I find my strength in Him.

God's wisdom: One of the most difficult aspects of running a half marathon, in my opinion, is knowing when to run faster or slower (pace). I worked hard at this during my training, but didn't do it very well on the actual race! It's so important to run the same way you train! This leads me to...

My humility: It's incredible what 8 or 9 miles of a gradual incline can do to your body when you're pushing it! I started out way too fast and simply couldn't sustain the pace. At two points in the race, I had to walk. I felt so ashamed of this and did everything I could to not have to walk, but I also wanted to continue running hard. I came to the end of my strength and realized I had been running the race for myself and not out of joy for Christ. He mercifully humbled me during the last 3-4 miles of the race, and yet still lovingly helped me finish within my goal (under 2 hours).

My bib number and finishers' medal
God's companionship: When I run, I like to listen to the Bible on audio, my favorite Christian music, sermon podcasts, and pray; wherever I go, my thoughts are consumed with my Savior. A half marathon was no different - in fact, I felt closer to Him afterwards because I had finally experienced how great the challenge of running such a race is! To have two hours with God while running is such a beautiful thing, it made me excited about the thought of going running with Jesus in Heaven!

God's love: Running is a great opportunity to meditate on what God has done for me. As I pushed my body, it made me think of what Christ went through in His suffering and what great obedience and love He displayed in His sacrifice. There is truly nothing that compares to the greatness of the love of God in His Son.

Today, two days later, my legs are still a bit sore and it's hard to go up/down stairs. The race is over and done. Life is getting back to normal. But I'm still reveling in my great dependence on God in my recovery, desiring to be back in that place of weakness to see His strength, and glorying in His provision for me. What an experience! What a wonderful arena to find God and enjoy Him there!

2 comments:

barb said...

What a beautiful perspective.

Aaron said...

Thanks for reading my blog and posting your comment, Barb! It's great to have some interaction here in an otherwise quiet blog! :-D

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