Friday, October 11, 2013

Thoughts After Running a 5K

I wrote the following post a week after I ran my 5K but somehow hadn't posted it. In fact, I forgot to finish it (I know because I came back to it with a paragraph and a sentence half complete, mid-word...don't even know what the word was supposed to be! haha)! But rather than delete the draft because it was "too late", I thought I'd just press "publish" and hope that it's cohesive enough to make sense. 

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Now that the excitement has worn off a bit - the runner's high a thing of last week - I've had some time to ponder the experience. And there are so many thoughts dedicated to this event, but there's one in particular I thought I'd share with you. Grab a cup o' joe and have a seat, though. It's not a short thought! It has to do with this:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
I never was an athlete. In fact, I have one of those terrible childhood memories of being required to run a race during a combined field day and hearing an adult shouting "No wait, we can't start the next group yet, there's still someone on the track from the last one". I finished that race, but with a new, strong dislike for running and a beet red face - not from running. I chuckle at the incident now, but perhaps you can appreciate the fact that surprise was one of the thoughts at the completion of my 5K. I actually did it! I ran that race without stopping and crossed the finish line with a red face because I worked hard, but it was also green and a bit of pink thanks to the dye. 

But one thing is for sure - back then, on that field day of long ago, I didn't take the opportunity to look at the race through the eyes of one looking to Jesus. My grade school mind didn't make any parallel between the race I ran that day and the race I'm in every day. And as spectacular as it was to prepare for the 5K, run it and celebrate the accomplishment, I most appreciate the lessons learned when I relate it to life. 

It was so exciting to start the 5K, to look around at the hundreds of people around you, listening to their cheering and excitement as you line up to go. The countdown starts and paint is everywhere. It feels like you can run like a bullet and conquer that thing no problem.


Then you start running.

The conquering it no problem part fades. Quickly.

We started off faster than we usually do and a couple of hundred meters later, I could feel my gut telling me that I'm not going to be able to keep this pace up for very long. Not if I want to finish! So I settled into a slightly slower, hopefully steady pace. All the while hoping that my running partners didn't get too terribly far ahead of me. :) 

About 10 minutes in, the thoughts start. The I don't know if I'm going to be able to do this thought followed by I don't have to prove anything today, I can walk for a bit - so many people around me are walking, it won't look bad. To my left I saw a bridge that if crossed, would've shortened the run by a substantial amount of time. Yes. The thought crossed my mind. 

Then came the downhill part. At first I was excited! Yay! Downhill! Then it sank in that if there was a section going downhill, the only logical conclusion would be that there's also a section going *gulp* uphill! And logical conclusions are often so true, are they not? The final km of the race seemed to be a continuous uphill climb. Slight, but steady. 

That was tough. My mind almost quit on me several times. The final Dye Station (where they must look for areas of your body that are too clean and then aim there with paint!) gave a lovely minute of adrenaline rush. Distractions such as little girls in strollers and ladies running in their wedding dresses and the guys with the white top hats were most welcome. But in the middle of running...and running and running...time seemed slower than usual. It seemed too difficult! What was I doing? Why was I doing this

It was hard.

Up ahead I saw a turn in the path and it looked like it would be the end of the uphill section. Yes. Finally. Just needed to make it there. Just. Keep. Going. 

Do you know what was around that turn in the path? The finish line. Yay! And an incredible instant mind-shift! Suddenly running didn't seem so hard. My legs didn't feel so heavy. We all automatically picked up our speed (except for AE, she was ahead and kindly slowed down so we could cross together...) and ran to the very last flag in the chute. 

Woohoo! 

Did we remember even one second of the mental and physical pushing we had to do in the last 35 minutes? Did that 5K seem hard? Were we exhausted? 

Not in the least. 

That feeling of being done - being finished - was exhilarating. I think we all secretly thought we could run another one, right then and there. Like a bullet.

So how about I get back to those verses I mentioned? ...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus... New eyes, folks. Running that 5K has allowed me to look at this Biblical picture with new eyes. And there's one thing in particular that really stood out for me. How I forgot. The pushing myself, the moments of lead-heavy feet, of slow-motion, the tough minutes of wanting to quit, to cheat, to stand still! Once the finish line is crossed, difficulties are forgotten. Because the race was done. I was so excited and happy to have made it, that the past 35 minutes seemed but a breath.

There a lot of difficult life moments. Tough times. Rough patches. Uphill climbs. Slow motion moments when you wonder if being in this race is worth it. Sometimes those bad moments - or days - can be really, really bad.  Loss, emotional stress, physical pain, heartache. All a very real part of every persons life. And a thousand times worse than huffing and puffing up a teensy little hill.

The thing is, now that I know the joy that comes after running the race set before me - on a small, 5K scale - I know that it's all worth it! The verse says "looking to Jesus" and I picture Him being at the finish line. Of course, God is with us every step of the way because without Christ strengthening us, we certainly wouldn't do a single step of our daily race by ourselves. But when we believe on Him as our Savior, He's also there, in person, at the end of our life's race. And if there's so much incredible joy at finishing a 5K, how much more - infinitely more!! - our joy will be when we finish the race He's given us to run and at the end is life - eternal life!! - with God. It is such an amazing thought.

I hope that I'll always be able to recall the feeling of finishing that 5K. And I especially hope that it's a moment in life I can refer to, looking at it in light of Hebrews 12. Is there a tough moment, day, season? Keep running. And run it to the best of your ability, calling on God to be your strength. Because the end is worth it. 

4 comments:

  1. WOW is all I can say!!!!! (Denise)

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  2. Great post Jen. Thanks for sharing. Part of my "read through the Bible in a year" passage today was Philippians 3 which talks about pressing on toward the goal for the prize that awaits us. Today was also the CanRef cross country meet which I was going to to watch my oldest and to participate in the parent/teacher run. As I nervously prepared for the day, I pondered the timeliness of this particular passage. I ran the race and it was HARD . . . more hills than I care to remember. . . . so many that I look back and try to recall if there actually was any flat parts! But again it reminded me that life can be the same way sometimes . . . .lots of hills and valleys. Anyway, reading your post tonight after the events of the day was timely too. Thanks for writing that up and thanks for pushing "Publish". The timeliness of a post like this doesn't wear off!.

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  3. Wow, Wow!!!! What a fantastic review!!!! Well done, both the race and the story. Dad.

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