When I met Joseph he was training for his first half marathon. While we were dating I traveled to Florida with him and a group of friends to cheer them on during another race. So I knew when we were reading all of those marriage books leading up to the wedding that each time they mentioned that the wife should take up her husband's hobbies that I'd be taking up more exercise. I can laugh about how dedicated Joseph is and how I just simply wasn't disciplined in this area, but the truth is I was scared to even darken the door of a gym, much less begin training for a half to run with Joseph.
After I got my master's degree under my belt I felt invincible! Why not go ahead and start this thing? I began training for a race and immediately understood what so many had told me prior about running being just as much mental as it is physical. When I first began to feel the pain in my legs I just thought that it's an issue that everyone who chooses to train experiences. After many tear-filled moments as I dealt with the pain Joseph convinced me to seek help and answers.
Google gave me some answers that helped and some that scared me, but it wasn't until I began talking with a friend about it that it began making more sense. She recently completed Physical Therapy School and willingly evaluated my legs and all the issues. The PT that she recommended helped immensely, but she told me things to look out for. She informed me that what I've been experiencing in my legs is mild compartment syndrome. (If you Google it, don't freak out like I did! My legs haven't split open.) Due to a lack of space in certain compartments/sections of my legs there is not enough room for accurate blood flow to the muscles in those areas. This causes tightness and swelling. The PT that she taught Joseph and me allowed me to make it through the 8 mile run, which again made me feel like I could do anything.
It wasn't until last week that I had to promise both Joseph and my mom that if the pain continued that I wouldn't run the race at the end of February. After I made it through this week's shorter runs with minimal pain I believed that yesterday's 10 miles would be fine, too. The promise I made was that if I had trouble during the 10 mile run that I'd simply be a spectator.
When Joseph and I got only 1.5 miles in yesterday I began to have more pain in my legs than I had experienced before. I looked down to see that the swelling in my legs was extremely noticeable. My right leg looked somewhat like a medium size apple was protruding through... trust me, this is not like the lady lumps Fergie rants about. Not cute. As I began to cry uncontrollably, Joseph comforted me by saying, "God is the only One you have to worry about pleasing.” I looked up at him from my doubled over position and asked, "So, you're not mad at me?" I wanted so badly to accomplish this race with him and to prove that I could do it. I couldn’t stand the though of letting anyone down, or worse having people believe that I’m one to give up easily. Sweet Joseph reassured me that he wasn't disappointed and that I shouldn’t worry about the opinions of others. He would rather me not run the race than to continue and make the issues I've been experiencing worse.
So, here I am. Sore, swollen legs due to a condition I had never even heard of until a few weeks ago, and unable to accomplish something that I've committed to.
Yesterday I had lots of moments where I just had to cry it out like a toddler in a crib. Emotions of defeat and disappointment flooded my mind. While Joseph was out finishing the 10 miles for the training schedule, I was home cleaning the house. God encouraged me so much when I was steaming the floors and scrubbing the toilets.
God reminded me of the courage it took for me to even begin this training. He reminded me of the dedication I've learned through this process and the routine that I have created for me to exercise regularly. Finishing would have been a huge success for me, but the Lord encouraged me yesterday that even beginning was a huge feat for me, too.
Running is not something that I am good at, and didn't enjoy at all prior to beginning training. But, I've learned a great deal about trusting in Power beyond myself to start something new. When I started Seminary I had no idea what all it would entail, but I finished. Starting to run proved to myself that I can do what people do not expect of me.
Not being able to continue with my training for the half marathon is disappointing, but I am grateful that I know that my excuse here is not mental, it's not made up, nor is it something I can control. It was so tempting to continue running through the pain, but as my legs became more swollen and as I experienced more tingling and numbness in my feet and lower legs it was as if God put His hand on my shoulder and said, "I'm proud of you for even trying. You had courage to begin something that very few believed you could accomplish. You haven't disappointed Me, because I know that You are still trusting me through this."
So, I leave you with this encouragement that I have received from the Lord in the last several hours: It takes great courage to begin something new. Don't get too discouraged when things out of your control hinder you from running across a finish line, meeting a deadline, or overcoming a fear. God's with you. He's proud of you for even taking on the courage to begin.
If you can't run, maybe you can bike or swim. He gives us options, but all along the way is teaching us to be a people who trust in His strength and recognize that our giving up doesn't necessarily mean that we are unsuccessful.
It takes courage to begin. Rest in that, knowing He's proud that you even tried.