Last night I went running. I like to run. Or at least I used to.
I hated running in elementary school when they introduced the Presidential Fitness Award and all fifth graders had to run a mile in under twelve minutes. I hated running then.
I hated running in seventh grade athletics. By default, if you couldn't make any sports teams prior to track season, you ran track. By default, if you weren't really fast you ran the mile. I was on the seventh grade track team. I ran the 1600. That's the mile for all you non-track people.
When I was in high school, I was on the dance team. I pushed my body to physical limits I had never before endured. I liked it. I didn't choose it. My coach was tough. But I learned from it.
My freshman year of college, I gained the freshman fifteen. My junior year of college I lost it. By running.
I learned to love running. Not really because I loved running but because I loved the effects of physical fitness. I love feeling strong.
My first year post-college I worked a fulltime job in a highly stressful situation. Every single day after work I ran. Sixty-five minutes of my time. Way before cell phones or ipods, I made a cassette tape of my very favorite praise songs. Toes touching the pavement, Sony Walkman blaring, my cares literally dissolved. Crying out to God here was good. Easy. He seemed to answer me there. Running. Many battles were fought on that sixty-five minute course. All of them won.
Running came to be a place where I could go to be alone. With God.
Gasping for air made trivial issues take a backseat to deep rooted motivations and issues. Once made clear, the obvious could be resolved. Easily.
I used to love running.
Four babies and pushing a weight range I do not wish to be a part of without another human in my tummy has inspired me to want to love running. Last night was the first night I've done something about it.
I went running. Just me, my ipod and my little skater girl.
I lasted twenty-six minutes. It was a glorious run. Skater girl rollerskated about twenty feet in front of me urging me onward. A constant reminder of the legacy I want to leave.
As we rounded the corner close to home, we slowed to a walk. At just that moment we inhaled the most glorious fragrant flowers. We stopped and walked back and forth in front of the blooming vine for a minute hands laced together, breathing deeply savoring the moment. She giggling with delight. Me etching the moment in my mind, searing it onto my heart forever.
The fragrance of spring filling us with a fresh burst of energy, I did something I've never done before during a run. Not even in my prime fifteen years ago. Never.
I started running again sprinting toward the finish line. I'm a steady runner. Keeping a good pace is my strength. Holding correct form, counting cadence in my head, breathing in rhythm with my prayers. That's what kind of runner I am.
Last night I found the energy and strength to sprint to the finish. Last night after years of not running. Last night I realized something. I started my run last night thinking twenty-six minutes was the longest I had run in several years. I wanted running to better prepare me for life. I finished last night thinking life had prepared me for running.
Suddenly enduring twenty-six minutes didn't seem so long. Compared to enduring nine months of endless nausea, years of very little sleep, hard times in marriage, bleak times financially, dry times spiritually, the list of what I've endured since I last pounded the pavement is endless.
This endurance prepared me for twenty-six minutes last night. Twenty-six minutes. What I learned is invaluable.
I don't just want to endure to the finish line, I want to finish strong.
And that includes stopping to smell the flowers.
"All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally." 1 Corinthians 9:25