Limping to the finish line.

I did it.

I finally ran my first half marathon after thinking about it for nearly two years. What really helped me to accomplish that goal wasn't hours of interval training nor was it miles-long runs through the winter months. This was the secret: writing down my goal.

Something happens when you put your plans to paper. You start to somewhat believe in it. Then you start to talk about it with the people around you. Then they begin to repeat it back to you. Then you're motivated.

I had planned to not run the race about a month prior. My training had fallen off about two months ago, I was a little stressed with some (overdue) life assignments, and I wasn't sure I could actually run 21 kilometres without passing out. Fear was taking its toll.  But because I'd spoken the word about a year ago, others were able to repeat that very word back to me. I had already committed to it, so I kind of felt I needed to complete it.

I had initially set the goal to run in 2:00:00 but after seeing the high leg kicks and sculpted calf muscles of the sub-2 hour people at the start line, I revised it to 2:30:00 and prayed the good Lord would carry me. I prayed Psalm 23 and asked God to let me lie down in His green pasture as I ran, then I let all the fear and anxiety go. I unfortunately drank way too much water and had to pee less than 10 minutes into the race, and stopped a few times along the way so I thought my goal was out of sight.

Then the unthinkable happened: I pulled a muscle at the 19 km mark. I tried to slow down and walk, but walking was far worse than just standing still. I couldn't stand still though; I was 2 km away from the finish and I knew I had to keep moving. The pull hurt so bad, I had to half-run, half-limp. I was exhausted, wet, itchy, and now crippled with pain. Then a thought: run faster. I don't know why I thought it because it seemed totally contrary to what made sense in my mind. So I started running faster, and the pain actually went away. And when I tried to slow down, the pain would return. So in my exhaustion, I had to nearly sprint the last kilometre to the finish line.

After I crossed the line, I slumped over at the side of the road and caught my breath. As I raised my body upright and started walking, I noticed the pull was no longer there. It was just a little sore now, but the seething pain had vanished.

I refreshed my phone in anticipation to see my finish time, assuming I'd been only around 2 or 3 minutes over thanks to the unexpected sprint. I was shocked to see I had actually finished with 2:30:23.

Sometimes we're given a pull when we're nearly at our goal, and we're not sure why. We think maybe we've done something wrong, or we didn't heed the warnings soon enough. Truth is, sometimes a pulled muscle helps us to run faster or more effectively to reach the goal we've set out in our hearts. Had I not pulled my right quad, I likely would not have met my goal.

And why the 23 seconds? God works in mysterious ways. Maybe He was winking at me, reminding me of the prayer I'd prayed at the start line. Or maybe it was just 23 seconds. Either way, now I know the power of a thought. Just a small thought. Don't underestimate your potential or what you've purposed in your heart to do. He will see you through. Even if it means limping to the finish line.

A little inspiration...

Accountability.

Yes, sounds pretty terrifying: we are all accountable to other people, all the time. To be honest, I had kind of forgotten the importance of revealing our game plan to close friends, family and counsellors so they can help keep us focused.

I attended a workshop on releasing the cry of your heart yesterday. At the end, we had to make a short list of what we were going to do within the next 24 hours to start living out our heart's cry. I was kind of nervous because I know I have (slightly) neglected writing short inspiration pieces recently...mainly for lack of inspiration. So, I committed to putting a new piece of my writing "out there"--even if it's not perfect, even if it's not complete.

Sometimes, we need a swift kick in the behind to get things rolling again. Or perhaps all it takes is a little inspiration...

Sometimes, just delight in your craft.

I'm supposed to read some poetry at a gala next week. I had to send a digital copy of myself reading one of my poems, which I obviously obsessed over and screwed up a handful of times. When I finally got it right, I figured, why not put it up on my website as well?

I realize it's so easy to be quite difficult on ourselves with what we do. We nitpick, undo, reword, even rework, all in the name of getting it "right." It's good to lighten up every now and then, and just delight in the thing. So this is me intentionally delighting.

The poem is called True Love and, yes, that's me reading it. The full text can be found in my book of poetry called Speak Life. Enjoy.



That thing we fight for.

We all have a purpose, a reason for being here. Something totally unique to us that defines who we are. Mine is writing and teaching. I write poetry, prose and non-fiction. My teaching is sometimes formal classroom teaching, and other times it's mentoring/tutoring. Either way, my purpose is to help others see the flame that burns bright within them even when darkness looms.

Everything we do should flow from our purpose. In theory, I should be hunched over my computer as the hours go by, fingers banging away at the keyboard and caffeine at the ready. In reality, I'm not. What ails me, you might ask? Complete lack of motivation.

For some reason, right now I don't feel very purpose-driven. I kind of just want to curl up in a ball under the covers, pet my cats and sip hot cocoa as I listen to guitar all day. The problem is, I don't even have any cats.

Sometimes we can get caught up in the fantasy or illusion of what it means to live out our purpose. It seems new and exciting, adventurous, fantastical, or even noble. So, what to do when we get stuck, or when that feeling of dread creeps in at the thought of returning to "that thing"? When we don't feel our purpose, even when we know it?

Yesterday one of my mentors reminded me of "intentional abandonment." It's a term used in property law and it means to intentionally give up or relinquish some right over something. On the day to day, it means leaving behind all the stuff that crowds out what we're called to do. It's finding time each and every day to do what matters most, even when it feels like pulling teeth (that's where discipline comes in). It means identifying what matters most in our calling and doing it first, because the enemy of the best is the good. For example upon self-reflection, I realized I've been spending countless hours training for my first half marathon (yay!). But somewhere along the way I had sacrificed my research and writing to get there (boo).

I wanted the excitement of the "next fix." I love running. I also love writing, but I'm not a place where I want to be right now: in the mundane. To be honest there's not much excitement in the mundane, the monotony,  the everyday pressing into our calling. But, as I'm starting to see, there is beauty in the misery. It's in those dreadfully early, solitary hours when we learn how to balance contentment and persistence. We sit, ponder, and wait. We put it on the page, even when it's not perfect, because poor exercise is still better than no exercise. Time is one resource we can never get back, so we have to own it and not let it own us. In the words of my mentor, be wary of trading what matters most for anything.

I realize there are tons of resources for writers. How to write your first novel, knowing your audience,  resources for marketing, finding a publisher, etc. But most of the learning happens between the lines. Through mistakes, failures, uncertainties and other misgivings. This is a part of the journey. There is no victory if there is nothing to fight for.