Running the race

I began running the morning of my twenty-fifth high school reunion.

I was already in good shape and wanted to do something different in my fitness routine. As I set out that first day, I ran some and walked more.Later that afternoon, I bought a copy of a running magazine and learned my hometown would be the host of the Conway Race Fest. Exactly one month later, I ran my first official 5K race.

I had never been a runner. I’m not physically built to run, or at least run fast. Yet for some reason, I liked it. I found it to be simple and pure - no equipment, no agenda, no distractions - just me and God running through His creation.

So for the next two weeks, I practiced running/walking the 5K distance (3.1 miles). My goal for the 5K race was to run all the way, no matter how fast...or slow, just run the thing with no walking. And on my next run, that’s just what happened. I ran 5K. Immediately after, I fell down on one knee and thanked the God Who made it happen.

It almost seemed too easy. Two weeks after I began running, I was able to run a 5K. I had already reached my goal. But I noticed some pain in my left ankle. I took the next couple of weeks off in the hopes of a good run on race day.

When the big day actually came this past Saturday, I arrived early and the 10K race was already underway. As I neared the finish line to witness the first runners come in, I heard someone keep calling my name. Turns out it wasn’t a social call. The magnetic tab sandwiched in my bib number was activating the computer, as if I was coming in to finish the 10K. Nothing like proving to the professional race people you are an amateur.

As I made by way back to the starting line for my event, I stretched some and wondered when I would really get nervous. I ran into my friend, Laura Eddy and her husband Hank, and Guy Dozier, who all have experience running, but are regular people. I have to thank Laura and Guy for distracting me and not giving me enough time or opportunity to be nervous.

And why should I by nervous? Prior to the race, I had prayed the thing through. I prayed for my ankle not to hurt. I prayed to be able to run and not walk. I prayed to run and beat my previous time of 33:42, my only time. Then I prayed further and boldly asked God for a time of around 30 minutes. It seemed like such a round number.

And God granted every prayer. He even made it official.

I ran the Conway Race Fest 5K in 30:52. (I almost finished first in the 10K, at least according to the computer!) The weather was beautiful. The route down Elm Street was beautiful. I have to say having traffic stopped for me to run through an intersection was awesome! It also doesn’t hurt to have volunteers clap and cheer you on along the way.

God showed off this past Saturday. He made happen what I could have never done on my own. He graciously gave me accomplishments I don’t deserve. I believe God was showing me He will do through me what He desires, and it’s not just running a race. I believe He wanted me to see that trusting Him makes all the running, in writing, and in everything.

I hope to continue running in some form. If not for the physical benefits, at least for the spiritual. Running for me is a lot like worship during a church service, yet in some ways better, more personal. It is therapeutic. It’s bare-bones and natural, free from extra “stuff.”

But even if I never run again, I’m better for having done it. God used it to encourage me to let go of the unimportant stuff and cling to what’s real. Running has been a very practical illustration to me of my need to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles...and run with perseverance that race marked out for [me].” (Hebrews 12:1)

God used running to teach me to just be myself, use the gifts He has given me, and trust Him. So if you ever see me bending on one knee, I’ve just run the race marked out for me, whether with my feet on the pavement or my hands on a keyboard.