On March 15th, I began my training for the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon. I made some goals and set myself some training benchmarks. This is what I said then:
Today begins my first day of a 12-week training schedule leading up to my second half marathon! I ran a 2:08:39 in my first half, and this time my audacious goal is to break the 2-hour barrier. I need to shave 40 seconds a mile off of my pace from January, so I need to get training! Those 40 seconds are not magically going to run away and hide; I know that it is going to take a lot of hard work (and hopefully 5 less pounds to lug around) to make it.
The race was yesterday. Laura ran the full marathon with her brother while I ran the half. Over 13,500 competitors took the challenge of running this particular race, which I thought was pretty incredible! The men’s winner ran all 13.1 miles in 1:07:17; the second place finisher had THE EXACT SAME TIME but was a step behind. Wow, that has to be frustrating for him! Let’s just say that I was in no danger of ruining their two-man competition.
I am incredibly pleased with my results. You can get all of my results here. My big, audacious goal was to break 2:00:00; well, I did it. What I didn’t say was that I had an even bigger, more audacious goal that I wasn’t sharing with everyone else. (it’s pretty common to do that in running circles) My even bigger goal was to run a 9:00 pace for the whole race, which equates to a 1:57:53. I ended up feeling great and ran a 1:57:15!!! That equates out to an average pace of 8:57.
Comparatively I also met my goals. I wanted to get my Age-Grade above 50%; at the race in January I scored a 46.1%, and I wanted to be over the bell curve this time. I scored 50.7%, so that was encouraging. I also placed 1804 overall (top 14%), 1051 of 3920 men (top 27%), and #240 of 748 finishers in my age group (top 32%)! All of those numbers made me feel pretty good about my run.
I learned several valuable lessons along the course and saw God work in some interesting ways:
- I set off to run fast, but it was really clogged at the start. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to run well at all and was getting a little frustrated. Then I looked at the back of the shirt of the guy running in front of me, which said, “Never outrun your joy in running.” THWACK! God bopped me upside the head and reminded me to enjoy the health He has given me. I may not meet every goal I set, but I was never supposed to be able to run again after my back surgeries and I was running my 2nd half marathon! He reminded me to enjoy the run, so I did. “I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.” (Psalm 77:11) I still ran great!
- In my last race I didn’t really talk to God much until mile 9. This time I didn’t have Laura running with me and was all by myself (in a sea of people running). So I talked to God a lot; we had a running dialog at points. (Thank you! Thank you! I’ll be here all week…) It did my heart good to spend a lot of time with God on the course, asking for stamina and to continually focus on Him and His glory in my race and not my own self-aggrandizement.
- The race was hard, but the results were worth it. In reality the race was the payoff for training for the past 6 months! I shaved almost 50 seconds a mile off my time. I ran the race MUCH harder than my training runs, though, which made me think of what Paul said in 1 Cor 9 about running. I had to run like I wanted to win, not like I wanted to take it easy!
- Finally, within an hour of completing this race I was already thinking about my next one. We signed up for the PF Chang’s half marathon (it’s cheaper that way) while we were at this race, so it’s already time to start training! January 16th, 2011 will be my next goal time: 1:50:00. There, I said it. That’s an 8:23 pace, which will mean another 35 seconds a mile off my time. We shall see what the future holds! The only way I am going to get there is by realizing in my running life what Paul talks about in our spiritual lives in Philippians 3:12-14:
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. ” (1 Corinthians 9:24–27)
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ” (Philippians 3:12–14, NAS)
It’s amazing to me how many parallels there are between my running life and my spiritual life. The lessons on the road are the same lessons that God instills in us as believers: don’t stop. Keep running. Run like you want to win! Whether you win, lose, or draw put the last effort behind you and look to the next one.
What a great lesson for our life in Christ. Keep running the race; never give up no matter the hill you’re looking up at. Make God the center of the race at all times, and run like He is watching and like you want to win! And once that race is over, don’t raise your hands or hang your head too long, because it is over. Look to the next race instead.