Just in case I’ve scammed anyone into thinking I’m superhuman, I’d like to confess that I’ve had a series of lousy runs. Two bad runs this week (and one bad session of cross training and weight training). My seven-miler the weekend before I left for Mexico was good, but before that my runs were marked by general lack of pep. Today my legs were like lead for the entirety of my four-miler. Four miles isn’t supposed to be intimidating, but I was really hoping to set a challenging pace. No dice. I was just happy to finish.
Though, for what it’s worth, I ran Abe’s Hill (our local sledding hill) three times.
This may be perfectly normal, but I have no way of knowing because I’m a first-time half-marathoner. I’m guessing I’ve just plain pushed too hard. Why else would I, usually healthy as the proverbial horse, come down with cramps or headaches or colds every second week? Right now I’m kind of scared that I’m going to get to the half marathon and choke about half way through. How many bad weeks of training can I afford to have?
I’m going to have to research this one.
Meanwhile, full of fear and discouragement, it’s a challenge to pack the gym bag or look ahead to the next day’s run. You know, I have as my blog tagline “Life is a great adventure, or nothing.” In most of the great adventure stories I’ve read or watched on the movie screen, there is a low point, or a progressive downturn before the climax and the triumph.
For instance, today I was listening to leadership author and speaker Chris Brady tell the story of Sir Sidney Smith. Smith was a sea captain and a British spy during the Napoleonic wars. Imprisoned in the Temple Prison in Paris, in danger of being executed as a spy, Smith carved into the wooden ceiling of the cell these words (quoted here as best as i can remember):
“Fortune’s wheel makes strange revolutions, it must be confessed. But for the turn ‘revolution’ to be applicable, the turn of the wheel must be complete. You [speaking to Napoleon here] are as high as you can be. Very well, I envy not your good fortune for mine is greater still. I am now as low in the career of ambition as a man can very well descend. But let this capricious dame Fortune turn her wheel ever so little, and I must necessarily mount for the same reason as you must descend.”
Not much later, Smith escaped from prison. He was given a couple of ships and commissioned to sail to Constantinople. While en route, he stopped over in Acre, Turkey, and found the citizens about to be besieged by Napoleon himself. Smith had about 5000 men, once he’d recruited local Turks and fortified the tiny town of Acre. But with a load of daring an initiative (and apparently the ability to be almost everywhere simultaneously) Smith and his men repelled Napoleons army of 10,000 eleven times and eventually forced them to retreat. Smith got his revenge on Napoleon in grand style, and effectively ended Napoleons plans to capture the east for his own new empire.
It seems a little ridiculous to equate this with my own little journey toward running my first half-marathon. But it illustrates that for one, when you are at your lowest you can’t see what your high point will look like, and second, that an ordinary person (Smith was not technically an officer when he took command of his ships, and then the battle of Acre) can with courage and daring, do great things.
It’s been my prayer that if I’m going to pour all this time and energy into training, that my first half marathon wouldn’t be just about me. It would be a way to empower others and bring glory to God. And some way or another, that is going to happen. Right now, with my feet up and aching muscles, I can’t see it. I can’t see the finish line.
But I think… I think it will be worth it.