“Huff, puff.  Slap, slap. Huff, puff.  Slap, slap.” No, there wasn’t something dragging from the bumper of a passing car.

The sound of me, on the road this morning.  At mile: 4.

Which is when I lost my mind. I suddenly decided to try to run mile 4 (of 6) straight.

I argued with myself as I walked from mile 3.5-3.9…

Mile 3.5- “I wonder if I could run a mile straight?”  “Are you nuts?  You haven’t run a mile straight in 20 years.”  Mile 3.7 “Yeah, but I’ve been upping my intervals… and maybe I could!”  “I don’t think so. You’ll croak.”  Mile 3.9 But what if I DID it? THAT, would feel great.”  “Fine, give it a try, but if you die, don’t blame me.” Mile 4.0 “Oh, Lord”

As soon as Endomondo clicked over to mile 4… I started to run.  Not flat out- make yourself puke or break your neck…just a slow, easy pace.  After a couple hundred yards, (what I’d typically run as an interval) I thought about walking. Then I thought about knowing Id actually RUN a mile.  I kept going.

I came to a crosswalk. I crossed.  I thought about walking.  I didn’t. I ran.

I had to change playlists, I thought walking.  I didn’t, I kept running.

I made it .52 miles.  I thought about stopping.  I decided to stop looking at my mile tracker.

I cranked up U2 and tried to keep pace.  I did.

at .74 miles (I peeked:P) I looked at the road ahead.  The freeway overpass was coming up.  It was too close. Like- the top of it would be right  smack dab at about where this mile I decided to run, should end. It’s a long, high hill. It’s gravely and steep. I thought about walking.

I kept running. Toward it. I made it to the base of the hill. I peeked again. I thought “.88 miles is good.”  I can walk the hill. But it just didn’t feel quite like having “run a mile straight.”

I kept running.  I couldn’t get this close and quit.

“Huff, puff.  Slap, slap. Huff, puff.  Slap, slap.”

I’m pretty sure I looked more  like a slow-motion replay of a runner, than an actual real time runner. It doesn’t matter. When I got to the top of that overpass and my iphone announced “5 miles.” I knew I’d done it.  I was Rocky running the steps.  I was Carl Lewis or maybe more like Florence Griffith Joyner….(hey– we both have nails- don’t bring me down!) Ok– well maybe not like either one.

But, I was me. Running.  Not quitting when it got rough. But to the finish.

I did it.

This week’s theme has been confronting what I believed, were personal limitations.

I posted about taking a risk and allowing one of my book proposal ideas to be presented to a publisher.  *gulp* By someone else.  *gasp* When it isn’t perfect. *wheeze* When I wasn’t there to see or control it’s presentation. *slap* *huff* puff*.  I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I wanted to run. I wanted to back out.

I didn’t. But I wanted too.

I spent the day pretty freaked out. I wish I could say I had “perfect peace that passes all understanding.” I didn’t.  I ran scenarios in my head like a bad movie on repeat. (Think the Bear in the big Blue House Potty Video.. yeah.. that bad.)  I pictured  the publisher literally laughing at the mundane-ness and lameness of the idea… I pictured an editor a lot like Simon Cowell ripping it apart and asking “Did your friends tell you you could write?  If so, you need new friends.” I pictured the opposite.. “This is magnificent… sign this woman up, she’s got a voice that needs to be heard.  It’s fresh, relevant, reverantly irreverant, authentic and true…” I’m not sure which I was more afraid of. I was afraid I’d made the wrong decision and shouldn’t have ever answered that phone call. I was afraid I was about to be crushed like a bug.

I waited.  I didn’t hear anything.  I had the feeling that: “no news is bad news…” I ate cookies, and a peanut butter sandwich with m&m’s to console myself, and got ready for bed.

I checked my email one more time. There was something in my inbox.

It wasn’t what I’d expected. No Simon Cowell or raving review.

Ideas were presented… but not mine. I was disappointed and relieved.  I also kind of wanted to cry. It wasn’t sadness.. it was all that energy wasted in fear.

I didn’t do much the next day, to be honest.  Maybe I was wallowing.

But then, this morning.  I ran a mile. STRAIGHT.

I didn’t think  could do it, but I did.

You know what?  Sure.. the idea didn’t get presented, like I’d thought it would.  BUT.  I let it GO. I didn’t let my fear say “NO. It’s not perfect, you’re not good enough or ready.” When the mile tracker of my life gave me the opportunity to go ahead and see if I could run that mile.  I ran it. Scared and messy as it was.

I did it.

The race isn’t over. I’m not done running or writing. I’m just getting started.  I have a feeling I’m going to find out there are lots of miles that I thought would be too hard.  Lots of hills I think are too high, and lots of things I think I can’t do, I also think I will find out that I can. If I try.

And so can you.

I hope you find courage in the race before you.  I hope you go ahead and try to run that mile.. let that idea go out into the world… take that risk.

You just might find out you can, too.

I’m not settling for standing on the side lines… I want to run in this race we call life…   I’m running to win. Not running to beat you.. but to run with you. I don’t have to win… but I’m learning that I do have to run as IF to win… by giving it all I have.

Come on.  Let’s go!

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Cor 9:24

Besides…I guess.. if I want to write about “A Mile In Her Shoes” I ought to do one in mine.. huh?  Well, I guess I just did:)

Every day she totters the distance from her front door of her farm house, to her mailbox.  Her carefully coiffed grey hair is always appropriately, seasonally covered.  Sometimes by a stocking cap, other times by one of those amazing plastic origami-like rain-bonnets that fold into tiny rectangles and are stored in every grandmother’s purse. (Where do they get those?  i’ve never seen them in the wild…)

Her walker may have snow tires.  I’m not sure, but she makes that trek, every day rain or shine. It takes her about 1/2 hour, round trip.  (I may be even slower when I run.. maybe I should check into a walker for speed work?) I think she’s amazing.

Last week, while I was on my “wun” (walk+run=wun) I watched her  make her trek as I came down the road.  Maybe it was because I miss my grandmother.. maybe it was a holy prompting, but my heart said to : go say “Hi” and hug her.

“Hug her?” I argued with my heart.  “I’m sweaty.. besides, if I stop, my heart rate will slow down and muck up my work out…”

“Hug her.” Came the response. “If she’s close enough, when I get there, I will.” I countered.

It’s possible I slowed my already slow-motion run into a snails pace to avoid the hug. Honestly?  I didn’t want to have her hit the button on her “lifeline” necklace and have the police show up because I had accosted her at the mailbox… well.. that, and I didn’t want to look like a sweaty- nut.

My plan backfired. My slowed pace put me right at the mailbox as she was checking and rechecking it.  There was nothing there.

“Hi” I said, smiling and sticking out my (sweaty)  hand, hoping she’d heard my approach and fearing if she hadn’t, I was at risk of giving her a heart attack… “Hello.” She said “There’s nothing for me today. Did you see if the mail lady already came?  I thought she did, but there’s nothing for me.” Her disappointment was palpable. “Yeah, she already came by…” I offered.. knowing it wasn’t what she wanted to hear.

“Hug her.” Said that little voice, yet again. Tired of arguing with it, I swallowed my fear and stepped closer. (more…)

The 78th mile was not the most difficult to run/walk.

I’m not talking about running a straight 78 miles. That would be insane, and I’m pretty sure, in that case, the 78th mile would be the hardest.  Anyway…

My 78th mile took a month to arrive, I’ve been building up to it one step at a time.  It wasn’t what I’d expected.

The 78th was far from the most difficult.  The most difficult mile wasn’t even in the first 5 miles.  Or the first mile.  The most difficult was the distance from the couch to my front door.

Now- I’m not so bad that I was wheezing by the time I got to the door… I just had a really difficult time making myself do it.

I kept making up excuses:  I’ll hurt my back, I don’t have time, It’s too cold, It’s too hot, I’m too fat to be seen running in public.  I’ll embarrass myself.  I’ll hurt myself. What if I can’t do it anymore? The list was endless.

I decided to just do it. (Nike owes me now. I’ll take payment in shoes, kthnxbai)

In the past, I’ve dieted and exercised to lose weight.. and I’d like to see that as a by-product now… but this time, there’s something more.   I want to see how far I can go. I want to see what I can do.   I want to run a 5 k this summer.

Why?  I don’t know.  I like challenges and growth?  We’ll chalk it up to that. But, I also think there is the whisper of God in my ear… reminding me of who I am and who he is making me into…

I’m learning a lot as I run. I forgot how much stress is relieved by exercise.  I forgot how much better I feel when I exercise.  (well.. when I’m not hurting, that is..) Somewhere along the line, I forgot that I actually CAN run and can even enjoy it. The sunshine feels amazing.. even when I’m sweaty.

My goal right now is to see how far I can go.  This morning I walked/ran 5.2 miles.  It took me an eternity. (Ok it took 1:29 minutes, but still.. I did it!)  I’ve been slowly building up distance for a month…started with 2 miles… I’m going to keep going…

I’m not a sprinter.. I’ve never been.. but somewhere, under all that has become me.. is the distance runner I used to be. A long, slow, distance runner. Someone who doesn’t quit, even if the road gets hard and changes and it takes me forever. Someone who finishes and stretches and goes further than she thought she could…

I’d like to find her again…

Maybe not just on the road…

It’s part of my journey.

So where are you at?  Are you facing challenges?  Do you wonder how far you can go?  Maybe it has nothing, or everything to do with exercise.. but I’m curious…

I’m at the 78th mile.. and it’s not as bad as I thought it would be:)