the power of numbers

I’m in my second week of training for the Austin marathon.

On Saturdays at 7:00AM, I do a group run that builds our distance. Last Saturday, I completed the first one, a whopping 5 miles. I was a sweaty mess who finished second to last, but I finished. I walked some of it, but I finished. I was proud and happy with myself.

A few hours later, showered, clean, and feeling good, JJ asked me, “So, how many total miles are you running for this?” And then, of course, I had to calculate it.

Numbers are a dangerous game for me. The perfectionist wants to know exactly how I’m doing, how I stack up, how I’m meeting and hopefully exceeding expectations. I have to do the recommended or higher every time.

In the heart of my anorexia, it meant calculating every single sip or bite. It meant knowing every day what I weighed to the second decimal point. It meant a maximum of 600 calories a day. If I ate less, I allowed myself to feel accomplished and disciplined. If I ate more, I was worthless. My life, my value, was based on numbers and how I measured up.

Once JJ posed the question, I NEEDED to know. There was no going back to just following my training plan each day. And so I calculated:

18 weeks of training = 434.2 miles.

PLUS the actual race = 460.4 miles.

Y’all, I’m trying to run from Austin to Dallas and back.

Then, I broke it down into miles per week, and created a column for tracking the remaining miles. Because, me.

I started at 434.2 training miles. As of today, I have 411.2 to go. Tomorrow’s group run is 6 miles. I’ll be doing it alone in Kerrville, since we are visiting my family this weekend.

With Numbers comes along her best friend, Comparison. I started thinking about that group run that morning. Yeah, I did 5 miles. But I was second to last. Really, I was last, because the actual last person was only last because he was our leader and stayed with slower people doing the half marathon training for a while. Otherwise, I would have been very very dead last. I’m so slow and everyone else is so much faster. I’ll never make it.

My self-talk about my group run had totally changed just based on introducing myself to Numbers.

THEN, oh but THEN, I did the most superbly stupid thing of WEIGHING myself the very next day. Blast the trumpets and bring in MORE NUMBERS. The number was the highest I’ve ever been, INCLUDING PREGNANCY.

But, I needed to buy jeans. I’d been putting it off for too long. I wore my jeans to work on Friday and had to keep unbuttoning them all day. It was time. I had to face the fitting room. So, I went to buy jeans. They match the highest size I’ve ever worn. After running 23 miles in the past two weeks, I was literally busting at my seams.

I was sad and disturbed and upset. For an afternoon.

Ana LOVED bringing Numbers and Comparison along on her visits. The three of them would gang up and beat the crap out of me. They made me actually crazy.

I wasn’t about to have her and her little friends do that to me again. God has brought me too dang far and He deserves all the glory I can give to Him. So, I remembered and gave Him praise:

  • I read my Bible. I’m reading it all the way through for the first time ever, and holy crap if the first five books aren’t the best story I’ve ever read in my life. Yep, including Numbers. Numbers, Y’ALL!!!! Ha ha ha! The irony! (I didn’t even see that one coming until I typed it out. I just cracked myself up.)
  • I’m raising money for people to have clean water. People like my beloved friends in West Africa that live in destitute circumstances. Their faces are on my mind and heart when I run.
  • In one week of training, my pace went from 14:15 to 12:56. Now, those are some numbers!
  • LK now associates me with exercise, not a scale. When I’m doing strength training, she yells, “EXERCISE!!” and joins me on the mat in a haphazard preschooler downward dog with leg lift.
  • My body is strong. It’s doing hard things.

If I’m going to count anything, it is this:

I am running ONE race, and it’s not the Austin marathon. It’s the race about which the apostle Paul said:

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Em says:

    I enjoyed this. Numbers are hard. I’m glad you are pushing beyond the ugly ones and focusing on the good ones. Props on your running skills. You’re doing very well. You could mark it on a map. Running nearly 500 miles is a real achievement!

    1. Oh, that’s a great idea to make it on a map! 🙂 I may have to do that!

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