In it for the long haul
On Sunday, I’ll hopefully check off another item on my list of resolutions for 2011 by running another half marathon. I’ve only run one before, and that was just before I started at U.S. Catholic, nearly two years ago. Keeping up with regular running became a challenge, so I signed up for a long race to stay motivated.
Unfortunately, a little more than half way into my training, I lost said motivation. The weekly long runs got, well, long as the weather in Chicago became hot and often rainy. Every time I’d plan a run, it seemed as if the temperatures would soar and/or the sky would open up in a fit of thunderstorms. My 10-mile run last weekend turned into a quick six miler as I cut it short and tried to outrun an unexpected follow up to the previous storm that had delayed my run by a couple of hours. (I am not faster than nature, it turns out, and when lightning struck too close for comfort, I stopped found shelter under an overpass.)
“It’s a sign,” I’d complain to my husband. “Maybe I should just quit training.” Having spent a little more money on registration for this particular race and not wanting to face my own self-loathing if I decided to quit, I continued to lace up my shoes and squeeze in whatever miles I could on the treadmill or in the late evenings when the weather became safer for running.
Of course, all this running allows a lot of time or thinking, tuning out, or tuning in. Some people pray on their runs, “offering up” the physical pain that pounding the pavement can incite. Some recite the rosary. I do neither. I see my running as a time to empty my brain, crowded with thoughts of work, family, etc. But having finished my last training run last night, a mere two miles, but with a full minute and a half cut from the mile pace I’d started with in the beginning of the summer, I have discovered that perhaps I have benefited spiritually over the last 12 weeks.
Over the past couple of years or so, I’ve wondered if some events in the church weren’t signs that it was time for me to move on. More sex abuse revelations, the treatment of U.S. women religious, the misinformation and venom surrounding the healthcare debate, and the approach to the Mass translations, among other things have felt like unanticipated thunderstorms or dangerous temperatures thwarting my willingness to lace up and put in the effort.
But here I am, still getting the miles in when I can. I still don’t know whether I’ll finish the race this weekend, but I plan to show up, because I know I have what it takes.