20 miles

My sister Clare has been writting about her marathon training for the past month for my blog. The following is by Clare.

This past summer, on my way down to Nashville to visit guess who? Yes, the incredible producer of this blog and organization, Made in His Image, I was reading Born To Run, which explains an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong. One paragraph from the book hit home for me when they were naturally talking about marathons. They were discussing how a character from the book was training for the Olympic marathon and she didn’t have a coach or a training program and she didn’t even own a watch. She just rolled out of bed every morning, downed a veggie burger and ran as far as she felt she could, which usually turned out to be 20 miles! She said that she did it to “unravel the mystery she thought marathon running presented.”

Well, my friends, I DO have a training plan and a watch for that matter. My fellow training partner, Caitlin and I are in week 13 of marathon training for the Niagara Fall International Marathon in 5 weeks. WooHoo! We are both way to hardcore for our own good, such as meeting each other in the library at 3 am to study for neuroscience exams and studying till all we could do is hysterically laugh at how we pronounce crazy medical terminology. We decided that we should combine our wild sides to train for 26.2 miles, and finish out our final semester of graduate school with a bang!

So, last weekend, Caitlin and I met naturally in the dusk of morning to run 20 miles together. In my opinion the total effect of a long run is getting up before the sun rises, but that’s just me. I dropped water bottles and packets of energy gel at miles 7, 14, 17. Most distance runners have at some point “hit the wall”, a term often used to describe complete exhaustion.  Energy Gels are there to help with that.  On runs over the 10-12 mile mark, they are indispensable. Gels consisted of different carbs, which are absorbed at different intervals that give you a steady stream of energy; thus keeping you from crashing. They also contain potassium, which helps with maintaining muscle contractions.

When we hit mile 7, the morning sun was just about coming up and it was a cool, beautiful morning. Caitlin is used to running hills, so I crafted out a nice flat run that went through woods near my house. At times, the run was rough and we needed each other to persevere through and motivate each other in what we were trying to accomplish. Although it was hard, and the last couple strides of mile 19 were rough, we finished! We both enjoyed a nice tall glass of chocolate milk a few minutes later, which by the way is an awesome post run drink. Protein is perfect after a run so that amino acids return to your bloodstream to get to the tissue in your body and repair your muscles.

All athletes or should I say athletic people strive for perfection and try hard to minimize their mistakes. Being an athlete my whole life, I often struggle with being called a “perfectionist” and wanting to do all things without mistakes. Training for this marathon has taught me a lot about how to measure greatness and accomplishments. In a world where honor and fame are recognized as success, individuals often find their value in high achievement or conversely their lack of value in failure. I don’t know about you, but the times in my life where I have discovered the most about myself was when I have failed or persevered through something that was a challenge.

So my friends, go after those dreams you have deep within your heart that you thought you never could reach. Our call to greatness has nothing to do with being perfect or running a speedy marathon time or never making mistakes, but in striving for a dream that God has instilled within our heart to achieve. There is greatness within each one of us that is attainable!

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