Monday, October 15, 2012

Chasing Heaven

A little over a year ago, my friend Lisa started talking about running a marathon in her 35th year of life.  She asked me to join her in the goal.  I put her off for weeks as we trained for the Rock and Roll half marathon last Fall.  A marathon was not on my life goals.  When she picked up her race packet for last year's race, she found out that we could sign up for the marathon at a sale price.  She called, it was on sale.  I said yes because the truth is I love a good sale.  That half went great.  We spent the winter doing our normal workouts and come Spring the marathon talk began.  Four other friends signed up and in May the training started.  Five days of running a week every week for 6 months.  Yikes!  I tried to just look at the next day and not worry about the whole schedule.  I repeatedly told Lisa I was running this for her.  Just a few weeks in she looked at me very seriously and said, "You can't run this for me.  It is going to take a huge commitment and you need to do this because you want to do it."  That proved to be an excellent point.

School ended and it turned out to be one of the hottest summers since I have lived in St. Louis.  It is easy to find someone to run with during the school year, but come summer we all had kids and vacations.  I started having to run alone 4 of the 5 days.  I had to get up early and go alone.  This was new territory for me.  I'm not an early riser and I don't always push myself.  The running started to go really well and I began to crave it.  It was like my personal time alone with the Lord and His creation.  I prayed and listened to beautiful music.  And just about every time I start a run, I think to myself... I can't do this, but almost every time I do.

Running meets me at the core of my fears and questions about life.  I often operate with the belief that God is asking more of me than what I am capable of doing.  The secret I'm finding is that He knows I can do way more than I believe I can.  Every time I get to the end of a run whether it was fantastic or a huge struggle, I feel like the Lord says, "I told you that you are capable in ways that you don't believe."  I don't really mean that I am a more capable runner than I believe although I finding that is also true.  Running is a microcosm of my life.  The thing about the running is it is a place where the Lord meets me.  It is a place where I fight out my insecurities of the gospel.   And in this season it is a place where the Lord meets me.

Around July, I was feeling like a running rock star and then the kids and I got what I refer to as the "death bug".  We got the worst stomach bug of my life.  I was seriously sick for almost two weeks and lost 9 pounds.  It was awful and I was sure that I could never recover the running equity I had gained.  Slowly, but surely I started again and eventually caught up with the group just in time for my friend, Lisa, to have a race ending injury.  So it really did become my own thing.  All of my major runs have been with Lisa and it was her idea after all.  At this point, I was convinced this was a goal I really wanted to meet for myself.

So, I continued the training with any of the other 4 in the group who wanted to run.  Getting up at 4:30 or 5 am countless Sundays to do the long run with the group before church.  Trying my best to get in 40 to 50 miles a week and somehow love my family well.  We have gone from a long run of 6 miles to a long run of 20 miles.  We completed 20 miles 3 times.  Crazy stuff!  You get to the crazy level one mile at a time one foot in front of the other and at some point it doesn't seem crazy at all, but rather the thing you do before church on Sunday.  All the while hoping the sermon will be good so you don't fall asleep when you finally get to sit down in church with a bottle of gatorade and a snack no doubt.

So, this Sunday is the marathon.  I'm six months into my training.  My entire life style has changed.  I function like a pregnant woman.  I'm either starving, sleeping or waddling around because I'm so sore.  I logged somewhere in the range of 640 miles.  Could have almost run to my dad's house at this point.  When I think or talk about the marathon at this point, I feel like a might just throw up.  It still seems a little bit crazy.  I want to complete and I want to do my best.  I have some ideas of what that would be.  Come Sunday I'm just going to try to put one foot in front of the other one mile at a time til I can see the Arch again and get to that glorious 26.2 mile mark.   Along the way, I have fallen completely in love with running.  I think about it so much.  I have finally come to a point where I can call myself a real runner.  I suspect this marathon thing could happen again.  Who knew?  If you had asked me a couple of years ago if I would run a marathon, my answer would have been a resounding "HELL NO!"  Apparently, people change.

I'd love for you to join me in this adventure.  I love to dedicate my miles to people.  I'm working on my list.  Let me know if you want me to run a mile for you and which mile.  Mile 21 will be for Lisa and her mom.  Lisa's mom died on October 21st, the day of the marathon.  I'll be doing mile 21 for my crazy friend who talked me into this and her mother, Linda.  Wishing both of our mothers could see the women we became.  Our running careers started by running the Race for the Cure to honor our moms.  We have come a very long way.

I'd love to sharpie my arms with words of encouragement from the people I love.  It will be like you are there along for the journey.  Leave them in the comment section or email me with them.  Peter will sharpie me up the night before.  There has been so much joy in this journey that I really want to share it with all of you.  Almost every time I run, I think of the The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis.  In the end, the characters that you have loved dearly throughout the series have this time when they go heaven.  They keep going further up and further in realizing as the walk then run that they are arriving in that Holy place.  There is a moment when they look around and realize they are keeping up with the centaurs (half horse/half man).  I think of that moment often when I run.  A moment when I am running and running fast toward my sweet Lord knowing the journey is done.  What will it be like to look around and be in my redeemed state.  I can only imagine that it will be a glorious moment much crazier than running a marathon.  This marathon thing is me chasing heaven.  I'm chasing a moment when I get a taste of myself redeemed.  Those moments are few and far between this side of heaven, but they are so rich you can't stop chasing them.  For me running is worship and while I will not be in church on Sunday, I will certainly be dancing with the King.


AshliYoung said...

So proud of you! You are such an encouragement to me. Praying for a safe and injury free run for you!

Lisa S. said...

I am crying. I am so very proud of you. You are truly a runner now. While I am sad to not be able to run on Sunday I am glad that you are doing this for you and that my crazy idea became YOUR race. I will be there with some fun signs and I will meet you around mile 21, which you have dedicated to me and my mom, LInda...Thank you.

Tiffanie said...

Beautiful. Just beautiful! I am so proud of you!
Here are my words for Peter's sharpie:

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13

They say you hit a wall at mile 20 so I want that may need this verse to beam you back up at that point!

Jane-Ellis Griggs said...

What mile does it first start to burn a little? I want that one. Isaiah 43 has been my passage this week: "...Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, Melanie. You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." It makes me think of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and how their clothes didn't even smell like smoke when they came out of the furnace. This will need to be paraphrased for sharpie purposes, of course.

I am so proud of you. My favorite thing about your running a marathon is that it brought you back to your keyboard to share it with us.
Much love,

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Melanie B. said...

You blow me away and I'm standing here reading this crying at 4:30 in the morning because I couldn't sleep. I love that you want to include us. And I feel privileged to be included. Will you please run mile 8 for Ryan because that was his soccer number. I'm at a loss for anything profound to say. Just "For Ryan" will work. You gave me a picture of how Ryan is running with God now. Right now. I love you man! I'm extremely proud of you. I will be thinking about you and praying for you Sunday.

amy said...

Mel, I am so proud of you! I know how challenging running can be and you have risen to meet it with each step! YOU ROCK! Your words are beautiful- you have given us a look into your soul. love that.

this verse came to mind as I was reading your post...

Is. 40:31
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Will you sharpie the first part? and run mile 2 for Dale? He is only allowed to run a mile a week and he longs to go "just one more".

have FUN on Sunday!!

Susan Maynor said...

You are such a rock star---and a woman brimming with beauty and wisdom. Thanks for giving me a peek into your soul.

If you would, Mile Marker 7--the day Brian entered the pearly gates and is rockin' with Jesus right now. He would be soooo proud of you and would insist we be at the finish line. I even imagine him organizing with horns and blowers and streamers and balloons.

We will be cheering and praying for you in KC!

Tirzah said...

wow i ws crying when i read the post now i am weeping at the comments. Melanie you are amazing for letting God help others with pain and greif through you.

Andrew said...

Wow...deeply touching. Running alone is a real challenge. You're chasing after heaven. That's one of the best images I can think of. Will be thinking of y'all this Sunday for sure. Thanks for sharing!

Marianna said...

I just saw this, Mel, so I got the before and after and everything in between pics all in one dose. So, you made me cry profusely. So proud of you. Here's to chasing heaven every single day. Miss you!

Anonymous said...

I dreamed about you last night and got up this morning to check on your family (all of my bookmarks got erased off of my computer several months ago and I haven't really been reading any blogs) I'm so sorry I missed this, but your post made me cry with joy for you and who you have become! Praise the Lord for His goodness! And Congrats on that accomplishment!!
Love you,