Lessons Learned: 5k Races, Mud, and Letting Go of March

Today has been a good day and I needed it. I learned a lot of lessons as well. I needed that too.

No 635_2I participated in the Love a Sea Turtle 5K Race in Greenville, NC. I’ve been participating in 5k races since the Turkey Trot in November. It started when I got involved with a Couch to 5k program last fall and it hasn’t stopped. What was great about today was the fact it was my first trail run and it was held the day after a Friday full of rain. My trail run turned into a chilly mud run.

It was a long work week and as I was exhausted Friday night. It could have been the weather yesterday. It could have been the long week. It could have been the challenging month of ups and downs I faced. Who knows what it was but I needed something good to end the month of March and send it on its way.

Before the Race

Before the Race

There were two goals for today: finish and don’t fall down. With the trail being muddy, I was afraid of falling down and injuring something. There was a third goal of doing better than my last 5k but I was told that might not happen because trail runs tend to be slower. So I dropped that goal in order not to disappoint myself.

The other problem I was concerned about and didn’t tell anyone is the fact I pushed too hard at my last 5k and did some damage to my Achilles. I finished the race but I could barely walk the rest of the day due to sharp pains in my ankle/heel area. It was a lesson I learned about pushing too hard when I was not prepared to go that hard. I didn’t want to push too hard today and risk doing more damage.

It was a cloudy, chilly, windy sort of day. There was some drizzle just before the race however it stopped when started. At this point, I would not have minded it because I felt good. I felt ready to clear some things out of my system and let the rain wash some stuff off. After talking to some folks, I went off and did my stretching exercises. Then walked around for a while in prayer. After a minute or so in prayer, I couldn’t hear anything around me, including me. I stopped thinking and started letting go. It proved to be my smartest move all morning.

After the Race

After the Race

235 people started the race. Meghan Trainor, Katy Perry and Pink were following me along. Once I slipped into my own little world of motion, everything that happened in March started floating around in my mind but not in a bad way. They flowed through as they were literally leaving my body with each strike I made on the ground. I could barely hear the lyrics to the songs in my ears, yet I could hear the lessons I learned with each of those pounding March moments.

  • I can’t push more than I am able. Today, I stayed relaxed and because of that, (and softer ground) my Achilles doesn’t hurt as much tonight.  I can’t run or jog a whole 5k……..not yet anyway. I have to walk and jog (or “wog” as I call it). There’s no question about that right now and I’m ok with it because I don’t have to meet anyone else’s expectations but my own.
  • I didn’t finish with the people I started with. I started the race with one group at my side. By the time we finished, some finished before me and a couple finished after me. We all have our own pace in life. There were people that started by my side as friends at the beginning of March – wonderful people. Due to misunderstandings and false claims, a couple of friends decided to move to other trails. I don’t have the energy or pace to keep up with them, to meet their expectations or to accept their incorrect criticisms; so I didn’t follow. Yes, I was disappointed at first but then I looked beside me and saw other people there who know me better and accept all of me.
  • I slipped several times but I never fell.  I realized I would have been ok if I did. It was fun to run in the mud and knowing the energetic folks out there, I have no doubt somebody would have stopped to help me up. That is one thing I am learning about these races. We are all there to enjoy ourselves, meet personal goals, meet new people and cheer each other on. I imagine we are also there to pick each other up when we need.
  • I am grateful for text messages from those who encouraged me before the race and congratulated me afterwards. Tim, Katie, Brian, Jamie, and everyone on Facebook, thank you for the “proud of you,” “I believe in you,” “great job,” “go girl,” and thumbs up statements you sent or said. They felt good. I can look beside me and see that you are there.
  • I got muddy and wet. My old shoes are now my muddy shoes. I cleaned myself up and I will use those shoes for more fun adventures. Life is going to get muddy. I will do things and say things that will be different from others. My words, my beliefs and my actions have surprised some people because they had different expectations of me, thinking I hold the same interpretations they do.  I can’t believe what you want me to believe.  That will happen. I’ve worked too hard in study and transformation to be swayed by anger and judgement. I can’t conform.  Yes, I will say or do something wrong.  That happens too. When someone does something wrong, you apologize and when I am wrong, I will. Some will accept it. Others won’t. Others will even question my faith and Christianity. I have to remember I can’t control what you think about me. I can only clean off the mud and use that experience as I continue to mature and move on.
  • I could have done better in the race. Yes, I recognize that I could have done better in my run today but due to (whatever) I didn’t. More than likely that “whatever” has something to do with fear and getting hurt. There is something in my life that I really want to do but due to fear of getting hurt, I haven’t done it. Due to the fear of losing something very important to me, I hesitate. You know what I am talking about. Something means the world to you and you don’t want to risk what you have for something that may not be. I could have risked more today in order to improve my time but I chose to play it safe.
  • Now here is a twist to that lesson – the end results of a race just may surprise you. Today’s race results did just that. Due to some flooding on the trails, they had to cut the distance short. Instead of 3.2 miles, we completed 2.9 miles. Based on my calculations and the help of a friend, if I had kept the pace for a 3.2 length that I had for the official 2.9, I would have finished the 3.2 better than the last one I did. Remember I dropped that goal? Even though it was a trail race, I actually shaved off 3 minutes from my previous time. I didn’t push too hard at the risk of getting injured but I still did better than my last event.

Hmmm, what do I do with that risk I haven’t taken?

So what do I do with all of this? Well, I write it out and share these lessons with the world. I’m not surprised that my 5K adventures parallel my life. I bet the lessons I learned today might hit a cord with you. If it does, then another lesson is learned.

And with that, may we all press on towards the goal as we learn our lessons in life. We were not meant to conform to this world but to be transformed. (Romans 12:1-2) We were challenged to renew our mind, our spirit and our hearts with each step we take. So, get your shoes on.

Hey, if we get a little muddy, that’s ok. A little dirt won’t hurt us and we just might have fun and learn something along the way.

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