After hearing the news that I’m expecting another baby, many of my friends and family members have asked the same question: “are you still going to run?” It’s something that has loomed in the back of my own mind for several months now… we have actively sought to prevent a pregnancy because there are a lot of goals I wanted to reach before we got pregnant again. I’ve been afraid of getting pregnant – afraid of what it would do to my running goals, and afraid of what it would do to my weight (six times now, pregnancy has equaled “sit on the couch and eat whatever you want.” That’s what you DO when you’re pregnant! That’s what pregnancy IS! Or at least, what it’s always been to me.) But, although it was not in my plan, God has decided to bless us with another child and I’ve been given the go-ahead from my health care provider, at least for now, to continue running. I believe I’ve been given the go-ahead from God, as well. The day that I found out I was pregnant, He encouraged me in a powerful way.
It started on Thanksgiving, the day I ran my 5k (while pregnant, although I wouldn’t find out for another few weeks) and then went to Thanksgiving dinner with my family. I don’t know what, exactly, it was about Thanksgiving that triggered it but after that day, I just couldn’t seem to stop eating. And it was so much worse than all the times before that. A few months ago when I would “binge,” I would binge on pasta or whole wheat bread… I’d eat too much, but what I was eating was healthy. Then, just before Thanksgiving, I went through a setback that, for the first time, left me gorging on things like cookies and cake, but only lasted for about a week and didn’t involve entire packages or pans of anything. Then came Thanksgiving and a no-holds-barred, two week food fest where I indulged in eating entire packages of cookies and whole pies all by myself. I’m not exaggerating and I refuse to be embarrassed by that. That’s just the reality of the monster that I fight against. I gained about seven pounds and none of my clothes were fitting correctly (although that may have more to do with the fact that I’m pregnant than my poor diet… my body knows exactly what it’s supposed to do with a baby, and my stomach will swell to 5-months-pregnant proportions in the first month of a pregnancy, and keep growing from there.)
One thing I didn’t struggle with, though, was a feeling of despair or failure. I’ve learned enough over the course of this journey to know that setbacks like these are temporary, if I don’t let them make me quit. So although I was eating terribly, I was still running and still making (some!) good food choices and I knew that the breakthrough was just around the corner.
Turns out, the breakthrough would happen during a six mile run (surprise, surprise. I’m telling you, there is a spiritual aspect to running that leaves me in awe.)
Last Thursday, I was determined to run the full six miles that was on the schedule for that day. Lately I’ve been doing more run/walking than running, because I’m still getting used to barefoot and minimalist shoe running (stay tuned for a post about that), and I really wanted to get out there on Thursday and run a long distance for the first time. From the very beginning, though, it was an immense struggle. My breathing was horrible, my legs hurt (pretty badly), and mentally I just wasn’t there. I told Manuela and Michelle “I’m feeling all those cookies!” I know I was feeling, spiritually, much more than that.
About two miles in, I turned to Manuela, practically in tears, and said “I’m fighting demons.” I knew in that moment that I was engaged in something much more than just the physical act of running. I was in a battle and I couldn’t afford to lose. I picked up my pace, and set my MP3 player to play the song “Stay Strong.” I chose it because of the lyrics…
You’re in the moment now
When all that you’ve been blessed with is not enough
Here’s where the ground gets loose,
Here’s where the devils calls your bluff
Stay strong, you are not lost
Fix your eyes ahead…
Stay strong, you and I run for the prize that lies ahead
We’ve come too far to lose our way…
As I ran, I prayed and fought and pushed. At one point, the music changes and the rhythm of the song is different and the lyrics are:
Get up, there’s further to go
Get up, there’s more to be done
Get up, this witness is sure
Get up, this race can be won.
(You can listen to the song, and see the lyrics here. The change is at the 2:30 mark.)
At that point, it was as if God were speaking directly to me, and I just started to cry. The words sank into me… there’s further to go, there’s more to be done! GET UP, THIS [FIGHT] CAN BE WON!
How long was I going to let Satan beat me up? How long was I going to keep giving in? How long was I going to let him sabotage my efforts and keep me from the path that God has set before me? In that moment, everything changed. The battle was just over. A few minutes later my breathing settled down and the pain in my legs was gone and I ran (most of) the rest of the way (I stopped a few times to chat with Michelle and Manuela.) I won’t say the rest of the run was effortless, I was still feeling the effects of two weeks worth of bad eating and new shoes, but it was enjoyable in a way that I hadn’t experienced on a long run before.
God has set me on a weight loss path that isn’t yet finished. He has given me the strength and resolve to run a half marathon, and the determination and the desire to run a full. And that’s why I’m still planning to run the marathon in May, although I am pregnant. Because when God “spoke to my heart” through that song, I was carrying a child and didn’t even know it. And yet, the message was loud and clear: you’re not finished.
I’m entering a different phase of my weight loss and running journey. I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but I do know this: God has not issued me a 9 month sabbatical. Things are changing, but not ending. I won’t meet some of my goals (100lbs lost in a year, the New York Marathon), but I know that God has things in store that are more wonderful, more life-changing than anything I could have planned for myself.
To the little life growing inside of me: lets go run!