As I’ve written about before, the name of my blog, Running the Race, has multiple meanings for me. One meaning refers to a verse in the Bible: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…” This comes from the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 12, verses 1 and 2. The other inspiration for my blog’s name comes from an interest I’ve had since grade school: running!
When I consider my life and my faith as an endurance race, then I can confidently say that I participate constantly, hour by hour, day by day. When I speak of the exercise in which my body moves forward and my feet spring from one spot to another in a straight line, my participation has come and gone with the seasons and years.
This year was a significant one in my life as a stay-at-home mom: both children now attend school all day. The hours between 8 and 3 are “mine” to use as wisely as I can. I made a commitment to myself at the start of the school year that I would begin running again, at least twice a week. There’s a lake near the school that hosts rowing events, and surrounding it are a paved path and a shell path. There are always a variety of people out doing a variety of things, which has helped me keep going when I felt tempted to slow down or stop.
I even purchased a set of ear buds to plug into my phone so I can listen to music while I move. Somehow, I come back most often to country music from the 80’s and 90’s (and the songs of the group Alabama seem to always make me quicken my pace) and Christian praise music. There are times when the words and melody take my attention so far away that I increase my pace without any noticeable effort.
Yesterday was my first time running after the kids had been off for two weeks. We are finally getting hints of “winter” in Florida, and when I began my course around the lake at 8:15, it was still in the low 60’s. I felt invigorated from the start. Since I hadn’t exercised regularly or intensely over the break, except for some driveway basketball with L, my goal was to run for at least 20 minutes and see how I felt from there. The combination of dry, cool air and music that made me think about things like grace, love, peace, and hope, got me all the way around that loop, with no stops. During the third mile, my legs began to feel as if they were moving on their own, which is one of the most fascinating and delightful sensations to me!
As I was finishing the 3.5 mile loop, I realized that it had been 19 years, almost down the exact day, that I had run my first and so far, only, marathon. My dad and I completed the Houston Marathon on January 12, 1997. We had both trained extensively in the months leading up to it, and even when we woke up to sleet, we knew we would set out to do the event for which we’d been preparing. My dad and I agreed before the race that we would try to stay together, but if one of us felt stronger at the end, to go for it and do our best. I think it was after the 20 mile mark that I felt like I could pick up my pace a bit, so Dad and I separated. I finished with a time of 4:14:21, and he came in less than ten minutes after me. I was a few months shy of 20 years old, a sophomore in college. My pace that day averaged out to 9:42 per mile. Remember that number.
Return to yesterday, January 6, 2016. I’m now a few months short of 39 years old, I’ve been married nearly 15 years and my oldest child is almost 11. A lot has changed, in other words. My distance was also closer to a 5K than a marathon. I calculated my pace after I made my loop around the lake. It was 9:42. Maybe more has stayed the same than I realized. Now I’m thinking about whether I want to get back into longer distances, or try to cut my mile time, or even just get back to organized races again. It all depends on what my knees have to say, really, and one of them had some grumpy words this morning. No matter what, I plan to keep running!
How about you? Is there something enjoyable and fruitful in your life that you can return to after missing it for months or years? Fellow runners, how have you seen your goals change as your life and body change?