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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Adventures in Austin

Months ago, I signed up with some friends to be on an adventure racing team. It promised to be a thrilling and wild race, sending us on a tour of the city via foot, bike, or kayak. We would all travel to Austin for the race, and experience the adventure together. My hope was that it would be somewhat like The Amazing Race on TV, but without the fighting, cursing, and sobbing. The other major difference would be that we would not leave the city limits of Austin, Texas.

It seemed like so much fun, and I even roped my husband in to joining the team, despite the fact that he had not done any physical activity in months. In fact, his last "long distance run" was a mile run he completed in high school, 15 years ago. (I knew I was encouraging him to bite off way more than he could chew, but I didn't want him to miss out on the adventure part of the race).

So, last weekend, we all packed our bikes, running shoes, Gu packets and Cliff bars, and headed to Austin. We weren't there to win the race. We were there because we could be... Of the six people on my team, four of us were overweight, out of shape, and just beginning our fitness journey at this time last year. We all knew that one year ago, this was something that none of us could have accomplished. Between the 4 of us, we had lost almost 200 pounds in the last year and we would be excited to just complete all legs of the race within the time constraints.

Race day came, and we laughed (mostly at my good natured husband for his lack of preparation) and we sweated (A LOT). My team ran, biked, rowed, paddle-boarded standing up, located land marks, played beer pong (this was an ACTUAL event in the race), tossed large frozen fish (again, a real event), and one of us scaled a natural rock wall. We biked many of Austin's hills, which I could swear were uphill BOTH WAYS. We searched for hidden clues all around town, each one leading us to our next destination. It really was a wild ride.

On the sixth and last of the race legs, I was filled with gratitude that I was actually able to accomplish something that just last year was so far out of my realm of possibility. That last run back to the finish line was absolutely exhilarating. Looking out over Austin's Lady Bird Lake, I was filled with gratitude. It struck me that there are millions of people with disabilities that are a whole lot worse than mine. Most of them would probably give anything to have the ability to do what I was doing right then.

I have heard so many runners actually complain about "having to do" hill training days or mile repeats. And I admit that, at times, I have been guilty of complaining about not making a certain time goal on a run, or that my legs were tired and achey after a long eight mile run. However, it struck me at that moment that I should be incredibly grateful that I am ABLE to run at all. I have made a decision to try to clean up my attitude. No more complaining about my slow pace, or hard runs. The bible says that every good thing comes from God, and running has definitely been a good thing in my life. It has enabled me to learn so much about myself, and put things in perspective. I will choose to be thankful for every morning run that I am able to complete, no matter how early, or cold or hot or (insert miserable condition here) it is. I will thank God for every mile I am able to run, simply because I can run.

On the way home from our trip, I texted a family member about how utterly exhausted I was after the 8 or so miles of running, and miles and miles of uphill cycling. In good fun, she texted back and said that she isn't sure why I would ever CHOOSE to do that. My response? "Cuz I can", and for that, I truly am inexplicably grateful. I will strive to NEVER take that for granted. Hopefully, this newfound attitude spills over into the rest of my life too.

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