My second of three “hard effort” days of 2016 came today and it helped me remember something – I am not a runner. I’m not. You might infer things went horrible and all of this “not a runner” talk is from discouragement and/or frustration. Just the opposite. Things went great. Better than expected in fact. 15:15 for an honest road 5k, a 55 second win, and a course record to boot. Still not a runner … let’s back up.
My first “hard effort” day of this year was a 7+ hour mountain run around the Maroon Bells. Four times over 12,000+ ft passes with the most incredible vistas in the country by my side. Tears in my eyes to start and end the run. Then today: sub-5:00/mile through downtown Cedar Rapids threatened by a horrific flood only a week prior. And it hit me. I just love to run. All of it. Slow, fast, mountains, trails, roads, creeks, lugged shoes for 100 miles, slippers for 3.1 miles, and everything in between. I’ve kept my long runs long and introduced some fartlek running around some never-run-before hills and have been just loving doing things a bit different this year. Not comparing to previous fitness, running on time / effort, and doing more with less has proven to still breed great fitness.
So, today I learned something: running is running. Yes, train for your event … which is to still get out and enjoy the run. Aerobic fitness is aerobic fitness. Turnover is turnover. Getting back to the basics and taking a mental break has been a treat. So, no I’m not an ultra-runner or a trail runner or a 100 mile runner. I’m not. If the trails were no longer in my future, I’d still just love to run – I live in Iowa for crying out loud. I’m on sidewalks before 6am and loving it. I’m not a road runner or a marathoner or a 5k specialist or a miler. I’m not. If I never entered another race, I’d be running just as much as I do now. I love getting out the door that much. But let’s back up a bit more…
I am not a runner.
I am not a runner. I’m not. If and when I’m not able to run, I won’t be undone.
I’m not a husband. If and when my wife is gone I won’t cease to know myself.
At my core, my primary identity, I’m not a dad or a teacher or a friend or a brother or a son or a lover of pizza. These things will fade – swiftly or slowly – but in light of eternity all of the above will be…… gone. And I won’t. Going meta here I know, but I am what God has made me – his child. That’s all I am. A sinner adopted by grace through faith. Something that will never be taken or threatened.
So here it is … from the front of the pack to those in the middle and back. I hope this never comes across as arrogant or flippant, but winning races just isn’t that big of a deal. It’s not. There is much greater joy elsewhere. It’s not the run or the win, but what it points to. We were made to move and we were made to celebrate. What are you celebrating?
To be honest, in some ways today felt like just another 3.1 miles before getting the kids ready and heading to church.