Well y’all, I did it.
I completed another race!
Okay, by another I mean my third.
In the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t that impressive considering it was only a 5K (3+ miles).
But, I did it.
As many of you know, I played baseball in college. Unlike hall of famer Ricky Henderson, I was not known for my speed. In fact, I often heard coach yell, ‘Hey Quine, you’re running like you have a piano on your back!”
Not an Electric Baby Grand Piano, either; the Grandest of Grand Pianos!
Which is why for me, running these races mean so much. It is a goal that I work I can work towards. It is a goal that also helps me stay in shape. When I have a race to prepare for, I become more mindful of how my body is feeling. As time goes on, I am realizing that I not as young as I used to be. Before, I could run three miles without stretching and without much preparation. That isn’t the case anymore.
It takes a lot of work for me. Preparing for a race requires me to think through not only the obvious like, when will I run today, but the more difficult questions regarding health…particularly diet.
Honestly, running a 5k doesn’t require much change in my diet. I can continue to eat poorly, drink high calorie coffee drinks rather than water, eat more fried food than green stuff, and still finish under 30 minutes. Essentially, I can do what I’ve always done and get by with a decent time but with no real change.
That bothers me though.
It bothers me because I have two items on my bucket list I want to cross off soon. They are to run a half marathon and then a full marathon.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Your pastor has a dream to run a marathon.
The thought of this frightens me…and exhausts me. Which is why up to this point I have not actually pursued signing up for one.
Actually, I never really shared this with anyone.
Usually when the thought comes up, I lie down until it passes.
I scare myself out of doing it with the “what if” questions.
What if I hurt myself?
What if I am the last person to finish?
What if I don’t finish?
What if I don’t finish?
What if the race is on a Sunday?
What if that is the day Jesus comes back and I’m at mile eight when he calls everyone back? Talk about a waste of time!
Sure, there are a lot of things to go wrong.
Yet the things that could go wrong do not outweigh the thought of accomplishing such a goal. Ultimately, there is so much good that can come from this. In addition to crossing off an item on my bucket list, my heart and health will benefit from the training. I will have proven to myself that I can do something I only thought about doing.
I’ll discover again, I hope, that I do have what it takes, the discipline, to do something as challenging as this.
There is an obvious connection here to our faith. Love is a discipline and Love requires discipline. It is no accident that the Apostle Paul uses athletic training as a metaphor for the life of faith. In order to achieve the goal, God’s shalom on earth as it is in heaven, we need to commit ourselves to love.
But as in preparing for a race, love is not easy. It demands that we persevere, endure, and push past our weariness as we approach the finish line. It may mean
our training so that we can get past the three miles that we’ve always run.
This may require getting off the course normally used and the route always
Ultimately, the metaphor of preparing for a race makes sense to me because while I could run a 5k and be completely content, I know I can run both a half and a full marathon. It may not look pretty, it may take me a few days between start and finish, but I can do it.
Settling isn’t an option. There is more in my tank. Though I’ve never done training, like, training for a race, does not mean I can’t. It will be foreign to me and I know I’ll struggle with it, but it will help me accomplish a goal.
So I guess what I am saying is this: I’ve set a new goal for myself and I’m embarking on an exciting new endeavor.
As I run and begin preparations, this will be my mantra and I hope you will say it with me. It is the opening lines from David Whyte’s poem Start Close In.
Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
you don’t want to take.
(Italicized emphasis is the poet’s)
Guess all there is left to do is to sign up for that race…