Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Victory Lap

A theme phrase? A mantra? A goal? I'm not sure what to call it really, so I'm calling it my life theme for the rest of this year and hopefully the rest of my life. It was so obvious when I was running this morning.

Across the street is a bike path that leads into a park. At the fork in the road, I can continue on the path that goes out 4 miles and back or I can choose to run into another park that has a loop around a lake that is a little over 8 miles. Something in me wanted to push myself to do complete both. But with a knee that had given me on again/off again pain even on much shorter runs over the past 3 years, I was hesitant to try.

Photo credit: JD Last (2010)

This summer, I noticed I was running better and longer without tiring than I ever had. A few weeks ago I completed the loop around the lake in a decent time and ran the majority of the distance. Then I began to consider attempting to compete the 16.5 miles.

I finally got my allergies back under control and decided to do the run this morning. I had almost everything ready to go the night before and had planned to start my run about 7am. Perhaps, I was a little anxious and excited because I didn't fall asleep until 1am. Sleep is just as important as other factors, so I allowed myself to sleep in until almost 7am and was on the trail just before 8am.

When you know you will be running for several hours, there isn't much to do to keep your mind occupied other than mental math games (i.e. I'm halfway through the first quarter, I think I can run this next mile in 10 minutes) or letting your mind wander. For me that usually is prayer and listening.

It got hot pretty quick and I was wishing I had slept better and started that hour earlier when it would have been cooler. About the halfway point, I began to wonder if I really had it in me to do this. I was alone, no one would know I gave up. No one would be affected if I ran back to my car. My legs already felt tired and it was only going to get hotter. But I was still making decent time (based on all the math I had done to meet my personal goals). Then... I heard it. Or maybe felt it is a better description.


I had already come halfway. In just 2 more miles, there was a cold bottle of water and granola bar awaiting me. I could at least make it that far. And so I pressed on. And I kept thinking about what it means to persevere, and what it means in my life.

Persevere:  continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.

Yea, that's about how I was feeling in this run, but not so much in life lately. Perseverance often makes us think of suffering and plodding along. Lately, life has felt more like the endorphin high they say you get from running (still waiting to experience that!)

I kept on running.

I kept on listening.

The farthest I'd ever run is a 13.1 miles (believe me its more than far enough). There was a chance I could hit that mark on this run ahead of my best time. It was getting harder and harder to get my legs to propel me forward in even a slow run pace, but I thought with such a short distance to that 13 mile mark and a few precious minutes ahead of pace I could muster enough oomph to get to the marker. I made it over a minute faster than I ever had. The rest of what God was telling me popped into my head.


I was actually going to finish this! (I must admit I hit the wall between mile 14 and 14.5 and walked most of the rest with a few short jaunts of jog in there.) But I persevered... not just today, but over the last couple years when I didn't want to get out of bed, when I lost sight of my God-given identity, when I kept praying, when I chose to let people in, and even when I kept running short distances. Today I persevered until victory!! 

Life has a way of distorting, thwarting and sometimes aborting our dreams. I've been guilty of letting that happen and settling for the security of settling for what I have. I may have been physically running for years, but I wasn't running towards anything in life. Now, I am. There may be days I want to quit, think I won't be successful, I'm not prepared, or that reaching the finish line doesn't really matter. On those days, I hope God (and you, my friends) will gently remind me to persevere until victory.


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