my shins felt like they were on fire when i heard her coming behind me.
“rachel, you look great! nice work!”
she held up her hand for a high-five and i legitimately heard the *ding* of her white-tooth smile. if i wasn’t so damn prideful i would have ignored it because i knew extending my arm would probably throw off my balance. instead, i faked a smile and returned the gesture so she wouldn’t know i was drafting up my will in my head because i knew the end was near.
why is she so happy? and why is she lying to me about looking great?
let’s get something straight: i don’t like happy runners. they freak me out. they scream inspirational phrases while they run a 7 minute mile and talk about lean proteins and compression shorts and how to prevent chafing. i know who my people are; happy runners are not my people. i don’t even know if we speak the same language.
besides not quite being a happy runner, i’m also the world’s worst running partner. i’m not kidding, you guys. there may be some part of me that is clinically insane and i really don’t know why i have friends. my sweet, encouraging husband told me he was proud of me while we were running, and i told him to stop patronizing me. another time, he ran a total of seven inches ahead of me and i think i breathed actual smoke when i screamed “WAIT UP!” i told you. insane.
i can’t run another ten feet. i can’t keep up with everyone. i can’t let myself be embarrassed like this.
i’ve been telling myself what i can’t do for years. “can’t” has been an idol for me, a thing i cling to in order to shape and justify everything. the tape of my physical shortcomings runs on repeat through my mind, to the point that i forget the voice is just my own.
i’m not a runner. i can’t do a half-marathon.
and over and over again as i put one foot in front of the other, my tape gets louder and louder.
i can’t do this. i can’t push past this pain. i can’t go further. i can’t go faster.
insecurities rear their ugly heads like the monsters i’ve often thought they were. and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. my indignity causes me to try and find something to blame, as if this “thing” about me, this “can’t” thing i’ve got going on is all someone’s fault or a part of some big joke. i scream back at the tape in my head, blaming God for creating my body this way, resenting my childhood for the absence of anything even remotely active, and of course shaming myself for the years of neglect.
just give up and do something easy. do something you’re good at.
i guess what i’m here to confess is that i have repeatedly told myself i can’t run a half-marathon, even well into this half-marathon training. i confess i am easily discouraged and not even remotely close to being able to say with sincerity “i want to go for a run right now.” i confess i am not a good steward of the temple i’ve been given because i am not grateful for legs that move me forward and a heart the beats wildly in my chest. i keep asking God to make me more grateful, and i’m here to confess that i think he’s keeping his promise. it’s so hard, harder than i wanted it to be.
do i love it yet? nope. do i want to quit still? every day. do i own any compression shorts yet? couldn’t even tell you what they are. but i still show up. one run at a time.
i’ve gone back and forth about writing this. it feels embarrassing and like the proverbial i told you so! will be shouted at any minute. but as with many other strongholds in my life, i have found that the louder you speak it, the less power it has over you. and i don’t want to be beneath the grasp of can’t anymore. i want to break up with can’t and give it a swift kick in the ass. i want to be braver than can’t, and i want to explore the idea of being a runner. maybe even a happy runner.
i’m running a half-marathon with team world vision. they do amazing things, even through people like me who hate running. with every $50 donation, team world vision provides sustainable clean water for a child in east africa for life. for life, people.
i would be humbled if you would join me in my journey. my goal is to raise $50 for every mile i run, so that i can provide children with the opportunity to drink clean water for the rest of their lives. all the information on how to donate can be found on my personal page at team world vision: http://team.worldvision.org/site/PageServer?pagename=TWV_Home
grace and peace to you as you do the things that make you feel brave.