I started running long distances in 2000. Only sporadically and really only to get in shape. But the longer I ran, the more I enjoyed it. It was a time to think, process, get away, feel good about myself- and get in shape. It was a win-win situation. In 2004 I discovered that I truly loved running. I started running regularly, keeping particular paces, and training for long distance runs. 2004 was also the year that I ran my first half marathon.
To say I loved it would be an understatement. I have never used drugs, but I liken the pull on my body, mind and soul to run more to the desperate need for the next fix- whatever the cost. I couldn't get running out of my head. The week after that first race I got an index card and drew an American flag on the background. In big black permanent marker I wrote '2012' across the middle. I hung it on my mirror for years after that. Why? Because I was determined that I would run in the 2012 Olympics. My event? The marathon.
To me it made perfect sense; I had done my research. Christine Clark won the US Olympic trails in 2000 with a time of 2 hours and 33 minutes. She was a 37 year old mother of two who had only recently picked up running. She only trained on her treadmill. She ran in the Sydney Olympics. Another example, Ingrid Kristiansen. At one time she held the world record for the 5,000 meter, 10,000 meter, half marathon and full marathon. She has won the London marathon 4 times, the Boston marathon 2 times and the New York marathon once. She picked up running late in life and often trained on a treadmill. If they could do it so could I right?
Or so I told myself.
It is now nearly September in 2011. The Olympics trails have come and gone for 2012. In case you were wondering, I did not make the Olympic team. Between 2004 when I first put my Olympic sign up and now, I have run over 1,500 miles in races and many times that in training. Between the 5K's, 10K's, 15K's, half and full marathons I have covered a lot of ground. But it is not the miles run, but how well you run those miles.
Did I run those miles well enough to be a marathon runner in the 2012 London Olympics? No. Did I do any of those miles well? Sure. At one point I was running somewhere between 8-12 miles a day at 7.30 minute miles. But it wasn't done well enough, consistently enough. and that has me thinking.
Do I 'do' life well?
I am a goals type person; I like making far reaching lists full of big dreams and slightly unrealistic goals. But what do I actually do in my everyday life to try and achieve them? Do I spend my time well, being intentional or do I simply plod along taking the easy way out? Just as I would traing for a marathon, I need to be training my mind and body to be disciplined and faithful to God, my family and my surrounding. But am I?
Ummm.... probably not. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I am lazy, but I am not brilliant with time management. It sounds nicer when I say it that way- time management. I get distracted easily and end up more often that not putting time and energy into the wrong things. I am doing things, doing life, but just like those miles I ran, I am not doing them well.
God does not call us to perfection. But he does call us to be content and have a grateful heart. God is not disappointed with me because I am not part of the 2012 Olympic team. But am I pleasing God when I constantly complain about my living situation? or when I wallow in my self pity because I want a situation to work out differently? I am still doing life, I am just not doing it well. In theory 8 years would have been enough time to train, run, compete and make it to the Olympics. But it wouldn't have mattered it I had 8 years or 18 years. I was never going to truly run well enough to make it.
I dont want that to be my life. I dont want to look back in another 8 years and think 'hmm....that didn't go so well' I can make choices to think positively and be grateful, even when things are not always as pleasant or perfect as I think they ought to be. I can make the choice to learn discipline, to practice discipline and to actually live my days out well. I could probably make a choice to try and run a little better too. I tried to run today and could barely make it 2 miles! Man, I am out of shape. and in the grand scheme of life, that is ok. I dont have to be a marathon runner to live a contented, God seeking life. But I do have to have commitment and dedication to Christ to live a contented, God seeking life. Settling for the mediocre wont cut it. Only running well part of the time is not good enough.
I have no real conclusion to this. Only some thoughts brought on by some time spent at the pool today. I went with a new friend and her boys. I may have only known her for a few months but she has become such a dear friend to my heart. Instead of fully enjoying my time, i was grumpy. and mopey, and wallowing a bit in the unfortunate-ness of some of my circumstances. There was no gratefulness of where I was at that moment. No little whispers of praise for a wonderful friend. just grumpy. Thankfully my friend is wonderful and she understood. we will hang out again. But it got me thinking.
I need to practice living well. not some of the time, or when it is easy, or when I feel like it. But all the time. If only it were as easy to do as it is to type out! And who knows, maybe the Olympics are still in my future. Christine Clark was 37- that gives me another 8 years to train! and train well.