Perseverance is a mind builder

Conditions weren’t exactly great for a 5-k. I awoke to the sound of thunder and with a sinking feeling realized the weather forecast calling for rain on race day was, unfortunately, accurate.

Wind blew water droplets against my second-story apartment window. Just the thought of the low 40-degree temperature awaiting me outside made me want to stay in bed just a little longer.

The day before had been beautiful and full of sunshine, and I wondered why I couldn’t have woken up to weather like that. The only positive spin I found for the rain was it provided an extra challenge to overcome.

Last fall, I discovered that running could be fun—well, truthfully, the idea of running is fun; it’s the way I feel afterward that I actually enjoy—and ever since completing my first 5-k race last November, I’ve had the desire to do it again.

Saturday, that desire became a reality as I crossed the finish line of my second competitive race.

I picked a 5-k at the end of April, figuring the weather might be better then. (I live in Kansas, who am I kidding?) But I knew I wouldn’t be training outside over the winter; I’m not that hardcore. So I waited a few months to schedule my next one.

During the training process, I discovered it’s harder the second time around. For my first 5-k, all I wanted to do was cross the finish line without stopping. Yes, I had a time goal in mind, but successfully completing the race was my main goal.

This time, though, I wanted to be faster, and I knew I couldn’t simply follow the same program I used the first time. So, with varying degrees of success, I tried to add three things to my routine. Hillsboro, at least in town, does not provide many hills. So, exactly twice, I ran on an incline on a treadmill at the gym. I increased distance on my long runs with varying degrees of success. I also went to the track and ran intervals.

Let’s just say I have a new appreciation for all of the track athletes out there. I look at those times and am amazed people can run that fast.

When I pictured what race day would be like, I never envisioned rain. But when all of Saturday’s athletic events on my calendar were either moved up a day or postponed—sadly, my race wasn’t one of them—I knew the outlook wasn’t looking good. But I determined to run anyway, rain or shine. I had prepared for this day, and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip by.

Yes, it was wet on the morning of the race. Yes, it was cold. I sloshed through puddles and fought against the wind and wondered if I was maybe just a little crazy. But I did it anyway. God’s been teaching me about perseverance, and this was the perfect opportunity to put that mindset into practice.

Sometimes things don’t turn out like you want them to. Expectations shatter, difficult circumstances arise, and things may be downright hard. But I’m learning it’s how a person responds to these situations that builds character.

I didn’t throw in the towel and give up on the race when I rolled out of bed to a chorus of thunder and rain. And during the race, when the wind blew hard against my face, I didn’t stop, even though I wanted to.

Instead, I tried to make the best of less-than-ideal conditions and make a memory that will last a lifetime, proving something to myself on a deeper level than simply sloshing through puddles with soggy socks.

I think we all face “rain” that at times can discourage us from pursuing our goals. Whatever obstacle you’re facing in your race, keep pressing on, wet socks and all. You can do it. Persevere.

Janae Rempel is sports editor for the Free Press.