Saturday, September 15, 2012

Running the Race

This morning I competed in a 5K, my first since last December. Considering that I had not raced since then and that this course had a few hills, I was quite pleased to see that I posted my best race time to date. I alternated between walking and running and was able to run for longer stretches than anticipated, so all in all it was a great day.

The race took place in a very picturesque neighborhood that has a couple of lakes which made for beautiful scenery as we raced. Even better, there were a host of volunteers and neighborhood residents along the course who encouraged us along the way. I especially liked the two guys playing guitar and drums (using an overturned bucket) at one of the turns on the course. Nothing like a little acoustical music to lift your spirits.

Even with the encouragement along the way, by the last half mile or so I was really running out of steam. When I rounded the last corner and saw that there was only a hundred yards or so separating me from the finish line, I kicked it into high gear (or as high as my poor body would let me at that point). Since I'm definitely a slower runner than many of the racers there was a large crowd already at the finish line, and many of them cheered for us slower racers as we approached the finish line. When I saw the crowd I couldn't help but think of Hebrews 12:1-3:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

There is something about seeing and hearing a crowd of people cheer me on that motivates me to go faster, harder, longer. I'm reminded of how much I need to surround myself with cheerleaders throughout life who will encourage me spiritually just as those fellow racers and volunteers cheered me on physically today. Sometimes when I'm struggling with something I just want to be left alone, but it's probably at that point more than ever that I need to reach out to people and allow them to encourage and uplift me. Running races, physically and spiritually, is tough enough, and something that shouldn't be done alone.

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