Things started out tough on Monday when we mounted the big, yellow school bus for a ride out to Cadron Settlement Park just outside Conway, AR. The father of a couple of girls on our school's cross country team went early to mark the trail with flour and it's a good thing he did.
The 5.3 miles of trail were all contained on the 40 acre park and included a seemingly never ending series of switchbacks with 400 feet of elevation gain. This was my first experience with trail running and it was tough! The two foot wide trail demanded constant concentration to navigate the rocks and roots without losing footing. Several of the kids hit the ground before the run was over, but scrapes and bruises were the worst of the injuries suffered. Definitely made for an interesting, if tough, start to the week.
The trail run on Monday left me stiff and sore for my regular 6 miles on Tuesday. Less than 5 miles in I began to fall back from the group and finished quite a way behind the next to the last. Again, heat and humidity were at play, but mostly I blame the first time trail experience of the day before. But hey, what's life without new challenges thrown in once in a while?
Speed work on Wednesday with the cross country team again, this time consisting of what was supposed to be a 4 mile tempo run after a one mile warm up. Still suffering from lagging soreness and stiffness from Monday's trail run, I didn't keep up the tempo pace for the entire four miles. I managed the first mile in 7:48, the second in 8:01, but the third and fourth fell apart. I did take the opportunity to coach a few of the kids who I found walking (yes, in a tempo run). I didn't really get them back to a tempo pace, but at least coaxed them back to a run. I finished the day with 5 miles and felt like I'd put in a pretty good workout.
Thursday I was pretty much recovered from my trail experience and back with my Tuesday/Thursday running group. We did 6 miles and I managed to keep up. On this run we actually did the first three miles significantly slower than the second three. Overall we averaged a 10 minute pace, which might have been why my fat, slow self could keep up. :)
I'd originally planned to do 10 miles on Friday and 12 on Saturday, but ended up with 11 and 11 instead. I ran the first 5 on Friday from the house, then returned to pick up Janice and head to Vilonia for cross country practice. Once again, the second leg went better than the first, but not by much. On my first 5 miles that morning, I managed a 9:54 pace. I ran the second 6 miles at a 9:47 pace. So I ended up with 11 miles just because everything was going so well.
Friday's 11 meant that I could drop Saturday's run to 11 also and still get in the same number of miles. It just happened that my Tuesday/Thursday group had planned to run a 10.75 mile loop on Saturday. Knowing I probably needed to run a little slower, I joined them anyway. You can probably tell from reading above that my comfortable pace falls right about a 10 minute mile. We did the first 5.5 around a 9:30 pace. You can probably guess that I struggled in the second half. Most everyone's pace was slowing so I managed to hang pretty close until mile 9. Then I dropped way back. By the time I finished the entire 11, my average pace was a 10:04 for the distance.
Training Week: June 4 - June 10
Even though I managed pretty good mileage this week, they were mostly tough miles. Partly because we've added in a little trail running at cross country practice, but mostly because of the elevated temperatures and humidity.
It's like this every year, just hard to perform well in the summer. I'm 40 pounds heavier than I was 20 years ago when I could regularly run 3 miles in under 19 minutes. Those years and pounds have slowed me down, significantly. They've also made it tougher to endure summer weather conditions. I've just got to remember that I'm not 24 anymore and I don't have to be as fast as I once was.
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -- Philippians 4:7That's okay though, because along with those years (and maybe the added pounds too) has come a wisdom that I most certainly lacked in my youth, a wisdom that carries with it a peace that I never knew all those years ago. That wisdom is that I don't have to finish in any particular time, because I'm not out here to impress anyone. Not even myself. I'm out here pounding the pavement every day to bring honor and glory to the One who gives me that peace, Jesus Christ.
My Savior and Redeemer is the One who keeps me on the road. He's the reason I can get up in the morning when most people are still soundly sleeping, lace up my running shoes, and step off into the still dark earliest hours of the new day. The peace of knowing that one day I'll rejoin my daughter with Him in Heaven is what keeps me going. In exchange for that peace, I feel compelled to do whatever I can whenever I can to bring Him glory and hopefully help bring others to find that peace.
Making it through the trials of this life is a lot like running in the summer. When I'm hot and miserable and even having to stop and walk during these summer runs, my mind often wanders and reminds me that suffering in the heat is going to make running in the fall that much easier. By the same token, suffering the tough times we endure in this life is going to make our eternal life in Heaven that much sweeter.
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." -- 1 Corinthians 10:31That's why I run and that's why I'll keep running, hot or cold, dry or humid, rain or shine. To bring honor and glory to the One who made me.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.