but Freedom can never be found behind those walls

…so just let ’em fall, just let ’em fall.

Well, here we are! The official “Camp Care 5k Recap”. As I’m sitting in bed, still trying to stretch parts of my body I didn’t even know existed before yesterday, I’m still in a state of shock and awe over how amazing yesterday was. I’m going to try and walk (no pun intended) you through as much as I can, but I’ll just say upfront that there is not much I remember after seeing the mile 3 sign, except praying my body would keep moving until I saw the timing truck and the finish line!

We arrived at the race about an hour early; plenty of time to get checked in, stretch, and let the nerves really start to build up! My sister had decided to come run the race with us (with jogging stroller and 14 month old in tow!) and my mom, aunt, and uncle came to see us off at the start. I met up with Dan and a few other friends that were running the race and it was nice to stand around laughing for a little bit before we had to part ways until the finish line. We were all standing around and out comes the video camera and Dan asks me what my goal time was. Something I had picked out in my head, but wasn’t planning on sharing at all!  I looked away for the camera for a minute, then thought of that saying “if you don’t declare your goals, they’re nothing but thoughts.  Armed with fear and anxiety, I declared 1 hour and 45 minutes as my goal.  I completed this race in 2:11:33 last year, so this seemed good to me. Plus, that meant an average of about 32 minute mile, so I figured I could try for it.  On this course, there is a .3 mile walk to the official start, so about 10 minutes before start time, I decided I’d had enough standing around worrying and stressing–it was time to go!

Heading down to the start line I had all sorts of thoughts circling around my head. What if things go wrong? Should I really be doing this? Again? Why, exactly, am I here? Why is it SO cold? Wow. That old guy’s shorts are REALLY short! But most importantly, the last thought I really remember thinking was I belong here. I belong on this start line, with these people. I sent up a quick prayer to the Loving Father to watch over me and all of my friends running the race, that we’d be safe and injury free, and that He’d show me my way if I started to lose my thoughts or feel like I was losing Him, over the next few hours. My aunt came through the crowd of runners to give me one more good luck hug before we started and my sister and I waved good luck to each other from afar. I decided to move up a little closer to the start line so I would waste too much unnecessary energy, and saw Dan one more time. We exchanged a “have a good race boss” and that was that.

I went into the day telling myself I was going to take things slow, save up my energy, and just focus on finishing, but as soon as that gun went off pure adrenaline was coursing through my body.  I don’t know if it was that I was in the middle of a pack of actual runners, or that I was just so nervous I had to go, but I took off running. Literally. I really wanted to stay with people as long as I could, and that’s what I was going to try to do. I kept up a running pace for maybe a half mile, then decide it was time to back off a bit and just focus again on the end goal.  I also was going to try to only stop every mile if possible. So far everything was working out. We got to the mile 1 time check at 28:21; 4 minutes faster than my target time and 5 minutes faster that the previous year! I was ecstatic! 🙂

All I really wanted was the time check at mile 1. I was feeling good and didn’t think that stopping for a real break was necessary yet. Half a mile later, we were reaching the main road of Rt. 66 with traffic speeding by us (luckily there was a wide shoulder) and the hellish 1.5ish mile hill up ahead. It was a good place to stop, take in some water, and mentally prepare myself for what was to come. This hill and I have a history, a very long, angry history. It’s slow, but painful. Yet I’ve now learned it looks much worse than it actually is. Last year on this hill, I cried. A lot! I was mentally and emotionally defeated before I was even halfway to the top. I stopped at least 10 times. This year, I took off head down, and was determined to push through. About a quarter mile up the hill, I saw my sister running toward me, having finished the race and come back to make sure I was okay. I have never been more excited to see a member of my own flesh and blood. Just having her there gave me a little more energy to keep going. Fast forward to about half mile left, and I see a white hat coming over the top of the hill, running toward us. I had to wait until I saw something more than just a hat, but I knew it was Dan. In that moment, I’m pretty sure I started crying. Only for a second though, because my energy needed to be on the pavement beneath me. I was not expecting this at all. I knew he was going to finish with an amazing time, and expected him to be waiting at the finish with everyone else if anything. I was doing fine, it wasn’t that I needed rescuing, but we have a unique friendship in that we know what makes each other tick, what buttons to push, and just what to say to motivate each other in a time of need, whether it’s through pissing one another off or lending a heartfelt comment (in my case, it’s usually the first that works best!); something that’s innate within the both of us, and makes us both thank God we were luck to find each other as friends, and I knew I’d need that in this last leg of the race. And I was right. I did need it.

FINALLY, we saw the stoplight indicating we were on the downhill and almost ready to turn onto the little over half mile finishing straight (which was straight, but definitely not quite flat). My sister turned to me and said “Okay, Molly when you get here you can’t stop, you just have to finish” and I was going to try my hardest. My steps were getting slower at that point, looking back now, I think it was definitely a bit more mental, knowing I was at the end and wanting so badly to be done, but more on that later. Really the only thing I remember from that point on was all my friends and family around me telling me I could do it, to keep going, Dan telling me to keep turning over each step, and the State Trooper in the car behind us blasting Hey, Soul Sister. Yeah Train! When I saw the timing truck and the owner of Crossroads/director of Camp Care at the finish line, adrenaline kicked in again. I managed to squeak out one little run/sprint to the end and crossed the line with the biggest smile and sigh of relief known to man.

I heard the timing company report my time of 1:54:16 and, while I couldn’t be happier I beat last year’s time by 17 minutes! I couldn’t help but think I was only 8 minutes off of my goal time and thought of spots where I could have pushed myself harder. Part of this comes down to my training, or lack thereof, and how that would most definitely help my times and endurance. I tend not to train as formally as I should or could, solely because I don’t take the time to modify training plans to my needs or don’t think that it matters since I’m not an elite runner.  The thing is though, it does matter, because I do go out to these races looking for my own PB times. Personal Bests. The other half of this is the mental component. As I blogged about prior to the race, I tend to shut things off mentally before I even give myself a chance physically because I believe I know how it is going to go. I was much better about not doing that as much this race, but old habits die hard and it definitely hindered me a bit!

One more piece of this 5k puzzle. The title of this post and opening line come from another track off of Matthew West’s new album The Story of Your Life entitled “The Healing Has Begun”. It’s all about carrying the weight of the world and your struggles on your shoulders and finally realizing that you don’t have to do that. That there is someone else who holds the key to your freedom from those weights and those struggles, and sometimes you just have to let your walls fall down to find Him. It really hit me during and after the race yesterday, that I am starting to embrace that Freedom. In ways both large and small, the walls are slowly coming down, and I’m committing myself to believing, working, and fighting until my battle is won; whichever way I find most important and for however long it takes. Maybe I’m not running full 5ks right now, but I’m going to start training as soon as I can feel my legs again. It may take a year, it may take more, for me to reach my goals…but yesterday I was led to a key that unlocked a door to one more way to Freedom in my life.

Thank you all for supporting me through this race. On Twitter, on the blog, phone calls, e-mails, and prayers. I felt every bit of it! I’ll try to post some pictures and videos soon! They’re being temperamental right now. Happy running, walking, or whatever it is gives you your Freedom!

Music Monday!

I PROMISE I will update on the 5k today, after I sleep for a few hours. It was so amazing! I really wanted to post my Music Monday post a little early though, because these two songs really got me through the insanely hilly part of today (for 1.5 miles, NUTS!). The first isn’t the actually song I had, it was an original mix with about 6 other songs from a friend of mine, but for posting purposes, this works! 🙂

Belinda Carlisle-Heaven Is A Place On Earth (Remix)

The second is from Matthew West’s new Album The Story of Your Life and is absolutely amazing! I kept singing in in my head all the way to mile 3.2! I’m pretty sure the title speaks for itself! 🙂

Matthew West-Survivors

Enjoy, and see you in a few hours for the race report!

New Take On Welcome to Holland

I don’t have time to write a full post tonight, as I am just heading to bed to get a full night’s sleep before the Camp Care 5k tomorrow, but I wanted to share another blogger’s post with you in case you haven’t seen it!

Dana, over at Uncommon Sense wrote a wonderful post in response to the “Welcome to Holland” essay about what it is like to have a child with special needs entitled, “Amsterdam International. I was really floored by this and wanted to share it with my readers. I guess you could say it touches on all things Welcome to Holland does not. I hope you enjoy it!

Okay, off to stretch and rest up for the excitement tomorrow! Thanks for all your support! 🙂

Sometimes All It Takes…

…is one simple little statement to inspire you. And to cause you to be completely honest with yourself and your feelings. I’ve been completely unmotivated to blog lately and, honestly, completely unmotivated to do much of anything. There’s no real reason. I think I’m just in a “trying to find my way” stage again, and sometimes when that happens all I want to do is sit in my bed and eat ice cream while looking up various things on the internet; some of which are completely and utterly useless. I have most definitely not been entirely honest with myself or others regarding my emotions either.

I’ve been trying really hard to stick to my exercises and stretching and I was doing well for about a week and a half, I think because I was noticing even the smallest amount of improvement (aka being HAPPY that I was sticking to it), but then things started to change.

On Sunday afternoon, I finally secured my registration in the Columbia Autumn Classic Road Race to benefit Camp Care. This was the first 5k I did last year, and my first one ever, so there was no way I was not going to race it again. It’s been stressing me out a lot though since I registered, and I think that’s playing a role in all of this. My loyal readers will notice I never did a true recap of the Hope is Coming 5k in August. That’s because it was miserable. To say the least. My leg’s cramped within the first mile, it was way hotter than expected, and my time was so far off of my goal. Did I finish? Yes. Was I happy about it or proud of myself? No way in Hell. Here’s the thing. The course was an out and back, so as I was approaching Mile 1, I saw people already on their way back–finishing in 22 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes. As each person passed me going the opposite direction and as each foot pounded down on the pavement, it felt like a painful reminder of the differences I face, something I so often, and so effectively, shove out of my mind.

So, you know what, I’ll admit it. I’m terrified of this race on the 24th. I’m terrified that I will cramp up again and my body will reject EVERYTHING that my brain is asking it to accomplish. I am terrified that I will go in with a goal to do better that last year, and that belief in myself and mental determination won’t be enough. I’m terrified that I am looked at as “the girl with CP” who does these 5k just so I can feel good about myself or so that I can gain some attention in the “able-bodied” world.

But most importantly, I’m terrified that I set myself up for failure by putting myself in these situations. Failure is my comfort zone. Quitting and having people quit on me is my comfort zone. Having to defend myself against labels and the “you can’t do thats” is my comfort zone. And I don’t want this to be that. I’m terrified that it will.

All this being said, I’m trying so hard to not let it be that compfort zone and when I heard this quote on Grey’s Anatomy tonight, it reminded me that I have to keep fighting:
“You don’t find something you love that much and let it go. You hold onto it, throw yourself in deeper.”
It’s not so much the 5ks that I love (even though I do get runner’s high and do love them), or the spinning, or the balance exercises or the stretching. It’s the happiness I find in them and through them. Happiness when I show signs of improvement. Happiness when I take control of my own life. That happiness is not something I can afford to lose. So, I will continue to run (well, walk), I will continue to spin, I will continue to work on my PT, and I will continue to find my way.

I want that happiness to be my new comfort zone.