Since my last race—Aravaipa Running’s Merry Vertmas with 402.7 miles and 318,146 feet at a fifteen percent incline on the treadmill from December 1-25, 2020, in forty-one runs, I had been sporadic with little training runs. I’ve continued to workout with my clients at the dance studio and online for an average of five times a week. A regular running or even walking routine has been like arriving in an old, worn western scene displaying dozens of tumbleweeds being tossed along the dusty, abandoned streets.
I needed a good, solid break from all the pandemic virtual runs each month of 2020, but my body and spirit didn’t need an eight to nine month break. I did take advantage of my running break by getting serious about finishing and publishing my first book. Little did I know that self-publishing a book takes a different level of perseverance, iron, and guts to keep moving forward. I am glad I followed through with my promise, yet it brought on more processing and healing.
My hope is that God takes any of my books and projects to wherever and whoever needs to see that He is in all things and gets us through our battles, tribulations, hard times, goodness, happiness, and beyond no matter what we are facing. I can’t thank Him enough for what this book journey has already given me, especially when a reader sees God and what can be.
Each time I have ever taken a running break, I know after that first run back—there is healing, challenges, renewal, and refueling. I let time and busy scheduling get in my way of jumping onto the treadmill or stepping outside to accumulate some miles. Taking a break is essential for peak performance as long as one doesn’t let the dust settle into cobwebs and crickets overrun the darkness.
Sean Lewis gets credit for breaking my running break streak by his Facebook post recruiting more team members to help push him to his goal to finish his third hundred miler at the Tulsa Urban Adventure race on September 25-26, 2021. I happily replied by signing up on August 17, 2021 for one of the half loops consisting of miles 13-25.
The race involved four—twenty-five mile loops. The first half of each loop totaled thirteen miles and the second half totaled twelve. I figured that the three team member slots would do three to four miles each—easy-peasy. With this mindset, I decided what’s a few more miles and signed up on September 7, 2021 for miles 75-88 when he called for the last few slots to be filled. I figured eight or so miles total wouldn’t be a big deal with my lack of running on my legs.
I know for those that know what really would be going down at this race are cringing with the thought of my lack of training and the miles I was really going to be putting on my body. Remember, I do train hard on my cross-training—five days a week. Nonetheless, I would have my wake-up call less than a week from the start of the race.
When we had our team meeting to cover strategy and logistics the Sunday before race day, my eyes enlarged like the coyote with road runner as Kathy explained that each team per half loop would be running together for the entire time. My original understanding I created was breaking down the twelve to thirteen miles into a relay style handoff. Oh, boy was I wrong. Instead of doing eight to ten miles, I had graciously signed up for twenty-five of the hundred-mile race. After my initial shock, I pushed fear aside as I witnessed Sean’s spirit light up about the possibilities and adventures for the upcoming race weekend.
What better way to reignite my passion and current season than to push my own limits while helping get Sean to his ultimate goal. Before our team meeting, I had jumped on the treadmill for six plus miles and felt great. I’d like to note that I don’t recommend or encourage others to go into something like this or any race without running on your legs. Training does matter.
When the race started on Saturday, September 25th, I was there cheering on our first round of team members. The butterflies in my stomach were in flight and my spirits were lifted as I watched Sean and the others headed out on the first hundred feet of the first loop. It was going to be an event to remember. I had time to get a vegan style breakfast with a fellow team member and visit the Tulsa Farmers Market before getting set for our first exchange at the QT on 21st and Harvard.
I quickly jumped into the cheerleader/supporter role that I love to be. The fear of the unknown for my bodies capabilities ran high, but Sean’s positivity and generous spirit kept those fears and insecurities at bay. When we exchanged, it was like letting horses gallop wild through the mountain meadows after being held captive for months. We were off to a crazy pace of eight to nine minute miles. I knew my body wouldn’t or couldn’t keep at that speed. Luckily, pushing Sean assisted me in keeping up with my other team members. My upper body definitely rose to the occasion and kept me going.
At one point in those thirteen miles, I found myself straggling behind a bit from the others when I rolled my ankle with the slight uprise of a crack in the paved sidewalk. Thankfully, it was a slight roll and another much-needed wake-up call to own where I’m at. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all did that once in a while–owning our present and working with what we know we can do? I got lucky that it wasn’t damaged and kept running. I caught up, and we exchanged with our next team members at RunnersWorld Tulsa.
I had several hours until my second committed loop, so I purchased a large bag of ice and Epsom salt for the necessary, dreaded ice bath. Oh, those ice baths always require me to bite on a washcloth in order to survive the freezing waters that graciously move the lactic acid out of my body at a quicker rate. It was exactly what I needed to gear up and be ready for the twelve more miles I committed myself.
When I arrived at the exchange in the RunnersWorld Tulsa, I was greeted by familiar family member faces and spirits that brought me great joy. I have missed my running family more than I can comprehend. Moments like these getting to exchange life and memories is pure gold. I knew this next round would be with two runners, Candy and Michael, who have been in my running life for a lot of it. Michael is known to be an elite, but he has faced some setbacks with his knee. When I say setback, it doesn’t mean he has stopped. It means I would be able to not die when trying to run with a legend such as himself.
When we exchanged and started pushing Sean through the night, my heart lit up. I had a déjà vu moment running through a part of downtown Tulsa. It had been a little over four years that I had been running with my running bestie, TZ, late one night through those streets when I met Sean for the first time. He was training for his first one hundred miler. I jumped for joy remembering that moment when God had set this all into motion for me to be part of Sean’s racing team in helping him reach a goal.
I was even more pumped from that moment and praising God how He works all things for good and brings us to the places He has for us. It reminded me the importance of letting God lead and direct us to the places, things, and people He has in His plan for us. It’s not about just getting by or doing what we want to do. There’s so much more. From all my brokenness, God has brought me to beautiful places and glorious moments where I get to praise Him by seeing His hands in it all.
As we exchanged with the last team to finish the fourth loop, I was glowing. God keeps blowing me away with His goodness. I ended up taking a nap at the finish line on the padded floor of RunnersWorld Tulsa. It was perfect. I know–it’s a hard floor, but it was exactly where I was supposed to be. The running fever has been caught, and I’m enthusiastic about my upcoming Snowdrop 55-Hour Race on December 30, 2021. I almost wrote it off, but it’s back on the table. Do I have a goal? To just keeping moving in the allotted time. There’s no mileage goal. I’m just supposed to move and let God unfold the miracles and destiny of being on that loop for fifty-five hours. This may be the first race I actually make myself walk the entire race. Just the thought of only walking creates enough of a challenge!
When our last team with an ever-cheerful spirited Sean came rolling over the finish line, my heart was filled with joy, renewal, and reignition that I desperately needed. If you find yourself alone and wishing life was different, then put yourself into life by joining a running, church, or support group to reignite your spirit. You can volunteer for races or events that emerge you into an experience waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.