Up until Sunday at 10:33 am, I was not “a runner.”
I have never been “a runner.” I ran track in junior high. My coach called me “Sunshine” and perfected my sprinting form. In high school, I competed with my horses instead of running track. Still, several friends and I would meet at Stacy’s house three days a week to run. I ran through my college years at a local park and even took the course “Jog for Fitness” as an elective. I have run off and on for years, I am part of a local running group, and I maintain a subscription to “Runner” magazine. But, I have never been what I would call “a runner.” In my mind, “a runner” is swift and can tread on for miles enjoying every moment. As for me, at some point my lungs catch on fire and my right calf rebels. Somewhere on my path walking comes into play and I decide I am more of a “walker”/”jogger” hybrid, a “wogger”—not “a runner.”
I know several “runners” and they are incredible people. Some hold state high school championships and others have completed marathons and Ironman competitions. You see, I have not been “a runner” because of my basis of comparison. The tragedy? Comparison is the thief of joy.
We often rob ourselves of joy by comparing ourselves to others. We often take every aspect of our lives–career, appearance, ability, opportunity, motherhood, spirituality, etc.—and compare ourselves to people we think are doing life better than us. By comparison, we rob ourselves and lose the joy of the journey.
This past weekend, I joined thousands of participants in 32 degree weather at the starting line of the Williams Route 66 Half-Marathon. I was cold, I was excited and, deep down, I was wondering what I was doing there in this crowd of “runners.” Oklahoma Indian drums thumped through the loud speakers before we stood in reverent silence for the National Anthem. Then we were off! A half-marathon—not a marathon; but definitely a distance long enough to test one’s grit and determination.
13.1 miles…by mile 2, I realized I had worn way too many layers. I followed the example of runners throwing gloves, headbands and sweatshirts to the side of the road (BTW: These items are later donated) At mile 4, several racers had stopped to help a wheelchair racer who had toppled over on a downhill decent. At mile 6, I began thinking I had hope for a decent finish. At mile 8, two ounces of green Gatorade in a paper cup never tasted so good! By mile 10, the arches of my feet hurt with every step and I was “wogging” a lot!
Then came miles 10-13. The greatest struggle with the greatest reward. Within this stretch was a man whose shirt said “Fear Builds Walls.” I thought about my fears. The ones building walls and holding me back. My body was exhausted and I had to dig deeper mentally and physically. It was a good place to be. It is in this stretch of a race (or in life) we begin throwing off our fears and discarding them like a cheap pair of knit gloves. When life is no longer comfortable, we find the depth of our
strength. I crossed the finish line, thrilled and relieved. I looked for a place to collapse and found a new perspective.
According to the official website I was passed by 1,085 runners. I am not the swiftest, the youngest, or the strongest. It does not matter.
I found joy in the journey.
I challenge you today to throw-off whatever is hindering you, pitch it to the side of the road. Don’t shy away from a challenge because you are not “the best,” run toward it so you can “be better.” Test your limits, stretch your boundaries, and try something new. You will find joy in the journey.
Today, I am so sore it hurts to move. I am plus one medal and maybe minus one toenail.
I would not trade my experience, because today, I am “a runner”—a runner in life. I hope you will be one too.
…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. Heb. 12:1b