Three Things I Learned on a Long Run: About Life, My Place in It and Moving Mountains.
It’s a week of big-hairy-audacious proportions for our SheLoves Vancouver tribe. In three days, about fifty of us are running a half-marathon–21km of sweat and heart for our sisters in Northern Uganda who have been ravaged by war and robbed of dignity.
It started with the historic TGIF post by the ever-fabulous Tina Francis: “The Risky Business of Changing the World.” It was a heart call to join her and take a big *leap* — to run and raise money for Watoto’s Living Hope project in Gulu.
I still remember the Saturday morning I did my first 45-minute run in the beautiful city of Victoria, BC. When I hit the mark, I threw my arms in the air and it felt like I had moved a small mountain in my brain–the one that predicted what is my personal range of possible and achievable.
Last Sunday I ran 18.4 kilometers. I did it slowly, but I did it. I listened to my body (and also ignored my body), sipped water, tried to distract my mind by texting two good friends (both of them are mentioned in this post) and over those two hours and a bit, I thought a lot about life, my place in it and moving mountains.
When I finished, I wasn’t the same girl who had started the journey.
1. It’s crucial for me to know who I am and how I run the race. I was running with three friends and from past experience I knew they run faster than I do. Soon after we took off, I realized I wouldn’t be able to keep at their pace and achieve our goal for that day. So, I resisted the urge, fell back and began to run at my own pace. I loved watching them up ahead, running at their strength and capacity, yet reminding myself of who I am: a lioness, not a gazelle. And that’s how I finished.
2. When my head wants to say, “No more!” my heart has to connect with a bigger purpose. There was a moment–around the 10km mark–when we were doing a lot of hills and I couldn’t see the other girls ahead of me. We were running on a beautiful trail, but it felt a bit like labour. I decided to shift my mind off myself and imagined women in places like Northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo who had to walk to find firewood, work for food and wouldn’t know what dangers would lie around the next corner. I began to pray, putting one foot in front of the other, asking for a new reality for women in so many parts of our world. I stomped out words like “dignity” and “freedom” and “security” and “equality.” As I ran and prayed–the physicality of moving my body colliding with breathless but tenacious words–it felt like Heaven-on-Earth and a new reality for women, screeched a little closer. Even like my running itself is becoming an embodied prayer.
3. Whenever I think I’m giving to someone else, I discover I receive so much more in return. Initially, leaping off this cliff was about supporting Tina, running for our sisters in Gulu and watching what God would do in our audacity. As we started training, however, I discovered the process began to empower me. Over the past three months I’ve moved those big mountains of limitations in my head of what I could achieve. I’ve learned to work a plan. I’ve gained a lot of confidence. I’ve learned to run with others and not do the big, hard stuff on my own. (That’s a biggie.) And I’m finding my voice again in speaking out on the things I am so passionate about.
On Sunday we have our big mountain to move: 21 kilometers–the longest distance most of us SheLoves readers have ever run. With your prayers and encouragement, I know beyond a doubt we can do it. It won’t be easy, but one kilometer at a time, we will get to the finish line.
Here’s ONE reason why I believe. Her name is Daniela Schwartz.
My Running Swagger
By Daniela Schwartz
–The Urban Dictionary defines “swagger” as:
How one presents him or her self to the world. Swagger is shown from how the person handles a situation. It can also be shown in the person’s walk. (Or run. I added that. Me, Daniela.)
These days when I run, I can not help a small sense of accomplishment. I can run 18km!!!! I never thought I would ever run that far. I like to call it: My Running Swagger.
When I went to buy new shorts and I was like “forget you” and bought a running skirt instead. Bam!
I wear my Nike runners which have had a two-page spread in two workout magazines on the inner cover and they are pretty comfy (Note: I was not the model).
I wear no-show socks, cause that’s what you do, unless you are wearing knee-highs to make a statement or compress your sore calves. Either way, you still have swagger.
I use my iPhone for music, to track my run, and check Facebook. While running. I multitask like that.
Hills? I laugh at hills now. I have Jesus and Advil to take down those suckas!
Rain? Bring it on baby. I have a rain jacket DESIGNED for running in the rain. If only I could find it …
I run tall. My heart full. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. With my sisters I can do this. In three days I can run 21 freaking kilometres!!! Shhhhhhwaggger.
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Dear SheLoves friends, I wonder:
- What’s your swagger?
- What’s the hardest thing you’ve done recently? What did you learn about yourself in the process?
- Would you pray for us and/or give with us–towards this effort and our sisters in Uganda. This will be–and has already been–an Amazing Race.
I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth.
My word for the year is “Roar,” but I have learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice.
I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago.