Roller Coaster Ride

The best way to describe the last few days at the USA Championships, as well as the entire season, would be as a roller coaster of emotions. When I say roller coaster, I mean the real deal, Millennium Force kind of roller coaster, (which if you haven’t ridden you have NOT experienced life, and need to check it out here!—>)

 The kind where one minute you’re 300 ft in the air and then flying back to the ground at 90-some mph!! The point being, not only were my emotions all over the place, this whole week and season seemed to fly by at roller-coaster-like speed. Now I’m sitting here with that same feeling you get when the train pulls back in to the station; dizzy dazed and somewhat disappointed its all over.

Over doesn’t mean OVER over, just a new direction, a new stage and a new journey beginning! I made it over the first two humps: High School and College, and I’d say I’m pretty satisfied with everything I accomplished in my H. S. running and my four years at FSU. In college I learned so many valuable lessons to take forward, both for running and for life, including the reason why I run. I made it over mini humps each season, like this past one in which I battled a hamstring injury which worsened towards the end. I lived, learned, laughed and loved my time at FSU, but now its time to look forward, because the worst thing you can do when you’re on roller coaster is looking back. In moments like these you’re always better off keeping your eyes ahead, fixed high on the sky, ready for the course to change at any second, but knowing gravity is on your side and you’ll end up back on level ground soon enough.

Whenever I ride roller coasters I go with the “Look Ma No-Hands” rule. My theory is that my skinny little arms aren’t going to override the force of 100miles (Yes, even after Coach Harvey’s rigorous punching bag and weight routine) so why not enjoy the thrill? YOLO right? My other thought is that I have no control over the ride, so why waste my time worrying? The same thing goes whenever I’m on a plane. My fiancé, Chris, always likes to argue with me that my logic is silly. He believes you should be more afraid when someone or something else is in control than when you yourself are in control. I beg to differ.

It’s easy when things are decided for you. When you’re in college you pretty much just listen to your coach, fall into a routine and few decisions must be made. I am horrible with decisions, and so now that it’s time to move on beyond college I’m back in that place I don’t like to be; holding the future in my own hands. But that’s not something you can escape, in fact that is what runners deal with every time they toe the line. When you race you are in almost complete control of the outcome, so any successful runner cannot be afraid of this.

This past week I raced the 1500m at the USA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. It was my first appearance at USA’s, and after missing out at the Olympic Trials last year by two spots I was especially grateful to be here. At the same time, I did not just come here to say I’ve been, so when I did not qualify to the finals, which are scheduled for today, I was most certainly disappointed. In the midst of all of these emotions, the disappointing race and entering into post-collegiate “unknown,” I am now able to gather my thoughts and come to a few conclusions. I may not have had the race I wanted but that’s okay, all I can do is take the positives from it and move forward. I did not get to put in half the work I hoped to this season due to injury concerns, so I am really glad I was able to make it this far into the season (further than I ever have). I also was reminded that God is in control and has a purpose for everything. Even though in my race it was up to me to run a faster last lap and qualify, I do believe that God has bigger plans that I’m just not seeing right now. Last year I was ranked 32nd in the USA for the 1500m, this year 16th…hmm, maybe a geometric sequence happening here? That would put me in the top 2 by 2016 😉

Yesterday morning I attended Athlete’s in Actions’s track and field chapel they had going on where there was worship music, fellowship and speakers. The message was really encouraging and exactly what I needed to hear. I heard about a story in 2 Chronicles 20 when King Jehoshaphat and his people  were overcome with fear as their enemies approached Judah. Jehoshaphat prays to God telling Him that he and his people are powerless against the enemy and need His help. As the people of Judah cry out in fear, the Lord speaks to Jehoshaphat. What does he say?

 Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

As I’ve underlined the key points in this message, the lesson is simple: You cannot be afraid of the future or afraid to face battles or even the unknown. Even when it seems at times you are in control and have some monumental decision or accomplishment to succeed in, you’re still not alone. Coming to the realization that there is a God who loves us and is always there for us allows us to live a life with peace,  meaning and direction. But in order to find that we still have to make one choice on our own, and that is to show up to the battle. All the Lord commanded of Jehoshaphat and his armies was that they show up, and when they did he granted them victory without even having to fight. 

This past week’s race did not go as I hoped, but despite the aches and pains I decided the best thing was to show up and see what I could do. Sometimes the hardest part is showing up. It can be scary, just like the agonizing feeling you get as you wait in line for a roller coaster. But all you can do is give your best on any given day and that’s what I did. No matter what tomorrow brings I know one thing for sure; I know I run to bring glory to Christ and wherever I go from here, He’ll be with me.

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