the marathon: planning her way

Maybe people thought of her as a runner. She surely pretended to play the part, but had she ever really gotten serious about the sport? Not beyond a couple of leisurely half-marathons. But, because of a newfound love for fitness, she was in the better shape of her life, and it was time, time to get real about the Nike shorts that have identified her since the first grade. It was time to train for a marathon.

In an attempt to process and share the journey since this decision was made, she’s making it one of her many lofty goals this week to publish a marathon series encompassing the lessons she learned.

So, to kick ‘er off, let it be noted that she learned a thing many about planning her way:

The heart of a (woman) plans (her) way, but the Lord establishes (her) steps. [Proverbs 16:9]

She knew the thought of running a marathon wouldn’t get past a dream without a plan. So, in combining a few different training methods and models alongside of her own experiences and preferences, she set out to create a plan uniquely fit for her. She took this ambition along with a felt tip pen, a strait edge and her beloved journal to her season’s favorite dreaming and scheming spot, her apartment poolside, and there, she began to plan.

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[the plan: prepared]

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[the plan: completed]

Little did she know this was the first of many plans driven by this dream. Planning breeds planning. The plan required a plan to stick to the plan. When she failed to plan, she planned to fail. The plan required grace, begged for patience, and demanded devotion.

Planning meant attentiveness to the days ahead, planning for the odd and abundant strains of her job, the forecast of weather, the layout of her schedule, the need of showering, the convenience of showering, food necessary for fuel, appropriate clothes for the evolving day, the routines of roommates, social invitations, willingness to look a hot mess, the time of the rising and the setting sun, roads and routes, available lunch breaks, anticipated sweat accumulation… and the list goes on. To stay authentic to her plan, she had to be prepared to fail, in the often case that she failed to plan. Being prepared meant she kept a full set of running clothes tucked away in the trunk of her car, was often seen carrying her travel toiletries like a purse and notably showered at four different locations weekly. Failure to plan resulted in break room donuts, sockless runs, sweaty dresses, second day-same wears and sprinting the Town Lake Trail after dark. On the other hand, prosperous planning was running in full gear, with enough time, daylight and energy. She really felt accomplished when she could successfully complete two or more runs while maintaining a poised presentation per single shower. Now that was strategy.

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[planned: recovery meal]

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[unexpected fail: break room sweets]

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[planned: gear up prep]

While the plan contributed greatly to her success, there were times that it handicapped her from what was best. And the lesson relearned, she’s not in control. Though, she had a plan and was seemingly prepared, it was the Lord who established her steps. Not only do her big dreams of running a marathon lead to big plans about how to get there, but such has always been the natural call to action when her heart runs a little wild with a word that becomes an idea, an idea that evolves into hope, hope that enhances a dream and a dream that develops into THE plan. This is where the capitol N and capitol J in her Myers Briggs ‘eNFJ’ assessment combine together to create BIG dreams and BIG plans. At times, this combination leads to running marathons and changing the world, but more often than expected it leads to wedding dates set and party favors prepared without a male prospect in sight. When her dreams come true and her plans prevail, she is elated, high on life, queen of the world. However, when her dreams die and plans collapse- find her at heartbreak hotel (cue the capitol F for FEEL-ER). With her long awaited dream wedding date of June 1, 2013 around the corer, so unfolded the variety of possibilities of how that would be accomplished, of course, according to her plan. Laying out on that August afternoon not only fostered the creation of her running plan, but also her life plan. She had just been offered her dream job, with an idea of her dream guy and her projected wedding date eleven months out. This was it. Twenty-five was the year. She would thrive in her first real job, meet a man, run a marathon and get married.

So, let us just fast-forward to the road to Nashville just weeks ago. Picture this, with smoothie in hand, she carb loads with a tennis ball between her IT band and the seat of the car. Tomorrow is race-day. Eight months into her dream job and a month away from her wedding date, she belts out from the beat of her being lyrics to Taylor Swift’s album, Red. With the finish line a day away she embraces the restless reality that 1) she needs to quit her job, and 2) any acute crush on even the idea of a dream guy is nonexistent. Though grieved, she anticipates the freedom that awaits her dead dreams and failed plans as she recognizes that she is unfit to choose for herself. There, training her mind, she surrenders to the established steps of the Lord, letting go of life beyond the finish line, and in her disappointment she’s reminded and grateful that He knows best.

And so, wherever this little plan lead, in her running shoes, she followed…

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