Friday, January 27, 2012

What happened to Wendy?

Nothing bad, I assure you.  I just got really busy.  What a lame excuse, huh?

 I had promised to do a year-end review in my blog, but that got pushed by the wayside because I spent way too much time over break enjoying my family and friends.  Now that I've had a moment to reflect on 2011, it seems easy to sum up my running experiences quite briefly.  2011 started as, frankly, the worst year of my life.  It ended as one of the best.  I struggled with a severe, undiagnosable pain for many months of 2011, but ended up being very glad for that experience (you can read about that here).  I ran my first marathon, which went exceedingly well.  I also ran my second, which went terribly.  But from the latter experience I learned some valuable lessons, and also what great friends my brother, Wes, and Scott are.  And I DNS'd one marathon due to severe food poisoning (shudder).

I didn't race anything shorter than a marathon.  And I didn't do any speed work.  That is, I built (what I hope to be) a bullet proof base.  Time will tell.  I changed my goals a bit, being drawn more toward trail running at the moment.  The reason for that is simple:  This year, running was almost taken away from me completely.  Whereas I used to be concerned (okay, obsessed) with how fast I could go, I became, this past year, only interested in whether or not I could go at all.  I learned that, while I enjoy racing, I love to run.  Going into 2012, I am much less interested in my splits, my current 5K pace, and my VO2 max.  I am just all-out in love with running.  And it feels awesome.

That is not to say I don't have time goals.  I do.  But they are (and always will be) secondary to unabashedly enjoying the crap out of running.  Let me take a moment to say, because it strikes me as appropriate, that I am thankful to God each and every day, and with each and every step that I run, that He has given me the ability to run.  That may seem kind of "meh" and trite but, for me, it really was Him who got me to where I could fall in love with my sport again (again, I refer you here).  I find that, when I am out on the trails, running seems more right, more natural.  It feels great on the road, too, but the trails are special.

So, what's happened so far in 2012?  Well, I ran a half in Houston.  It was quite an experience.  I urge you to read my race report which was featured in the My Race, My Story blog.  You can find it here.  The race was, of course, filled with drama.  This tends to be the underlying theme of any race that I run.

Next up is the Lovin' the Hills 15 miler in Louisville, KY in a couple of weeks, followed by my first ultra--the Land Between the Lakes 60K--in March.  Then Boston.  After that, I'm not exactly sure.  I'd like to take another stab at a half, and I certainly will be running a fall marathon.  Not Chicago, though.  Never. Again.

So...enough about running?  I've also started my new job as a professor at IU.  I love it.  It's wonderful.  I've finally arrived where I have always wanted to be.  It was a lot of work to get here, but very, very worth it.

What a year.  Marathons, PhDs, new jobs...but it all pales in comparison to the biggest change in my life this year.  I became a Christian.  Now don't roll your eyes.  If you're like I used to be, you're already half-way through that eye roll.  Saying I became a Christian doesn't mean I'm any better than you.  It doesn't even mean I'm a good person.  I was, and still am, a filthy, selfish sinner.  Always will be so long as I'm in this body.  What it means is that I no longer have to suffer the consequences of that sin.  It's a pretty good feeling.  And it has changed my life.  Turned it upside down.  In a lot of ways, my life is harder...but it is way, way better.  I've blogged about this before, but it feels right to indicate the force with which this change in my life has affected me and all those around me.

I want to emphasize, again, that me saying that I'm a Christian does not mean that I place myself above anyone.  I make this statement because, when I was a non-Christian, that's how I viewed Christians--self-righteous and stupid.  But being saved doesn't mean that you're turned into this angel of a person.  You're still you--you're still imperfect and always looking out for number one.  But no longer do you suffer the wage associated with that sin, which is death.  And you're uncomfortable in your own sin, which before you used as a means to survival.

I promise to keep more blog posts coming, and do apologize for my absence.  I hope you'll keep coming back.