Monthly Archives: February 2016

Running is a Gift

Most mornings I start my day with a quiet time of reflection in the Bible. I also listen to broadcasted sermons from Truth for Life, a ministry of Bible-centered teaching run by Pastor Alistair Begg. I was listening to a recent sermon that was talking about money and wealth. Part one of the sermon can be found here.

The sermon was about the mistreatment of wealth by Christians, but it made an important point. Wealth, itself, is not bad. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 6:10 that “[t]he love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” This means that money is not the problem… love of money is.

For God delights to give his children gifts. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17) “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

The issue, then, as with so many other things, is with our hearts. Gifts are from God and should lead us to God. The second we turn from God to the gift itself, we have created an idol. We have turned our gaze from the gift-giver to the gift, elevating the temporary and forgetting the indescribable.

Preacher Alistair Begg reminded the listener of this truth in terms of money, but it holds just as true for any gift from God. Including running.

It is a gift to be able to run. To run fast or to run slow. To run on a treadmill, on a track, in the rain, sleet, or snow. To run up hills and down hills. To run in heat and humidity and freezing temperatures and chills. To run.

Abundant-Living-Image

Yet all to often, I find myself treating it as something I do on my own. I worry about my mileage and times. I worry about my injuries. I view my results as coming from my own effort. To an extent, they do. If I didn’t get out and run, I would not be a good runner. But the overarching truth is that if God didn’t want me to be a good runner, no measure of training could counteract His omnipotence and providence. And the converse is true: I wouldn’t have good times and happy races without God wishing it.

Eric Liddell said, “when I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” In my best moments, I feel that too. Running is a gift, and it feels like every step shouts praise to God. But far too easily I co-opt this gift, put it on a pedestal, and make it into an idol.

I constantly have to strip it down again. I love running, but I love running chiefly because I love God and He gave it to me to enjoy. The second I put a period in that first sentence after “I love running,” is the second there’s a problem.

 

Is there a gift you’re co-opting?

Advertisements

The Olympic Trials

Yesterday the 2016 Olympic Trials for the marathon happened. Wow.

I’ve thought about the commitment it takes to support a person running a marathon before. You have to get up early, you wait around for about 4 hours, and for what? To cheer your head off for about 5 seconds and maybe hand your friend a Gu or water bottle? Oh yeah, and for that thing called friendship or love or loyalty.

I was also bolstered by these AMAZING friends who gave up their Saturdays (valuable time to all of us grad students) to come support me in the Silver Comet Marathon. When you have friends like these, you feel like you can do anything.
Case in point: these amazing friends. I couldn’t have done it without them.

Your 5 seconds of cheering is a shot of pure energy to that runner’s legs. And not just in those 5 seconds. I am constantly fueled during a marathon knowing I will see my parents or my friends at a certain mile, and then after, having seen them. Even while training, I picture seeing them at that mile and/or the finish line, and I have the energy to go further and faster.

I will forever think that your “job” is harder. I would rather run for 4 hours than wait around for 4 hours.

That said…. for the Olympic Trials….. I would watch that ALL day.

As it happened, I got to run while watching. It was a cold day, so it was a treadmill day. As I hopped on the treadmill and started to get my long run “zone out” on, I spied some running happening on one of the gym tvs.

So while elite runners were knocking out sub 5:00 minute miles, I was rocking a steady sub 9:00. In less time than it took me to log 16 miles, the top male finishers were doing 26.2. It took the top women finishers slightly longer to finish 26.2 than it took me to do 16….. but that’s a whole additional 10 miles! Plus that little .2 that every marathoner knows can be the make it or break it moment.

But you know what? I never felt bad about myself or my pace. Instead, I felt inspired. Extra energy flowed into my veins when I saw those runners out on the course, pulling away from the pack, crossing the finish line. I was there, running, and they were there, running. We were doing what we love, pushing ourselves and our limits. And that’s the beautiful thing about running. It’s a competitive sport, but your main competitor is yourself. We can all share in this sport. In a small small SMALL way, I’m like those elite women: I am a runner.

Congratulations to the men and women who will be representing the U.S. at Rio!

1. Galen Rupp, 2:11:12
2. Meb Keflezighi, 2:12:20
3. Jared Ward, 2:13:00


1. Amy Cragg, 2:28:20
2. Desiree Linden, 2:28:54
3. Shalane Flanagan, 2:29:19

For some highlights, check out this and this.

I am so inspired by Meb, who is 40 years old and will be the oldest Olympic marathon competitor. He went in 2012, but said he wanted to go again so that his daughter (who was age 2 at the time), could have a memory of this time. As he neared the finish line, he bore an American flag, and after crossing, he was swarmed by his family and praised God for his performance.

People said he couldn’t do it because of his age. But he did it anyway. People said Kara Goucher couldn’t do it because she was coming back from a series of injuries. But she did it anyway.

Running is so much more than something you do with your legs. You do it with your mind, with your will, with your spirit. While one placed and one didn’t, Meb and Kara embody that spirit and stand as role models for all who come in their steps.

Happiness Comes in Boxes

It’s time for new shoes again! Woohoo!

After some time off of running, I thought I’d be good with starting again. Some of the pain persisted, but then went away. I thought I was in the clear. However, it was quickly replaced¬† by another pain that had me thinking plantar fasciitis. I made a point of not saying this out loud or even thinking it too much for fear of creating a self-fulfilling placebo effect.

Then I realized: maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s my shoes. They’ve got about 400 miles on them, and most shoes get replaced around 350. I had 500 on my last pair, so I was expecting the same for this pair (same model and everything). But we have to listen to our bodies. My feet have been telling me that something is wrong, so I’m going to protect them. I want to continue running, both now and for many years. If that means buying my new shoes a little early, I’m okay with that.

Plus, this is the type of shoe shopping I can do. I walked into the running store like this:

IMG_3358

You know your running store is the greatest when all you have to do is point to your feet and say, “Got a 7.5?” I love Big Peach Running Co.!

I swear, opening this box is like Christmas!

IMG_3361

Old Hokas, meet new Hokas. I can’t wait to break in these bad boys!

IMG_3363

There was a lot of joy from wrapped boxes today. My mom also sent me a care package complete with tea, a candle, and an exercise top. Does she know me or what? And that’s Downton Abbey tea, no less! Now all I need is a study break to watch the next episode and drink some tea.

IMG_3365

My mom also decorates the outsides of packages she sends me. This sticker pretty much captures my reaction. Care packages for no reason (no birthday, no holiday) but just for the reason of love are a great thing. The way my mom loves me is an inspiration to love other people better. IMG_3364

Have a good week!