No matter how athletic you are or what skill level you characterize yourself as fitting into, running is a sport that just about anyone can try. If you have two legs to walk on, you have two legs to run on as well. I wish that more people would give running a chance and take the leap to try a race (as my friend Jess so bravely did on Saturday). Yes, it takes courage to go outside your comfort zone, but everyone I know who has given running a go has been changed in some way for the better.
This past Saturday marked the first day of fall 2012. It was a beautiful, warm day at the Clarendon Day 5K/10K race (or for a few crazy runners who ran the double, which I originally thought I would do). I chose the 10K and despite not sticking to my training schedule, I finished a respectable 52:56 (362 out of 1,175 runners). But it was a HARD race for me. I started out way too fast…gliding downhill from Clarendon to Rosslyn. What a breeze that was, but then the steady incline on the highway leading to the Pentagon hit me hard. I was drained. The sun was heating up the pavement and a side stitch was coming on. I think the only thing that kept me going was knowing that one of the guys in my group was not far behind me. My competitive spirit came out and I didn’t want to see his orange shirt pass by me! I trudged on and as runners began to make the loop back the other way, things got better. I saw some of the guys from my group run by and then as I looped I saw two more of them. It kept me motivated to hear someone yell out my name every few minutes.
As I finally neared the finish line all my friends who finished the 5K earlier were waiting to cheer the rest of us to victory. When I heard them yelling out, “Go, Go, Go” it was really inspiring, even for what was in my mind a race that should not have seemed like a big deal to me. It helped make those final strides across the finish line so much more rewarding. And I knew that the huge smile across my face was not something I could fake.
As I reflected on the day, it was really neat to hear everyone share their own story of finishing their race. And isn’t that what it’s all about, running our race at our pace and to our own little drumbeat, but doing so not for ourselves but because there is a greater purpose out there. We are running for the glory of God and what He did for us. We all have a race to run in life and it’s really how we choose to go about it that makes each and every one of us a unique and special creature. So no matter what speed one runs the race we will all be waiting for the others to join us across the finish line with arms wide open.