Now, let me just say upfront that I have absolutely NO pride in my running ability. Quite the opposite, actually. I'm the first to tell you that what I do makes real runners wince. But, somewhere, deep, deep inside there must have been a smidgen of something that resembled pride, because the last two week's long "runs" were enough to slap any thought of arrogance right out of me. And, I happen to know that God uses these things to teach us, so I guess there was some unresolved pride in me somewhere. Let me just assure you, it is now gone.
Last weekend, Gary & I traveled to Camp Claiborne in Pineville, LA, for a motorcycle race. Yes, my husband races motorcycles. That's a blog for another day. Anyway, one of the many reasons I love to go with him (other than the steak he grills on Saturday nights) is that I get to do one of my favorite things: a trail run. I ran this trail last year, and it is really beautiful. Peaceful, serene, really makes my creative juices flow. So, after some direction by Gary, I set out. The mile that would take me ten minutes on the road (on a good day) became a heart-pumping, sweat dripping, pulse pounding, ankle twisting fourteen minutes on the trail. And, that doesn't include the times I stopped to catch my breath. But, all was well. I didn't get lost and it was a mercifully short long run that week, so soon enough I was back at camp, sipping my coffee and reading my Bible.
This weekend, we traveled to north Alabama, just outside Gardendale (above Birmingham). I really looked forward to this week's run. I ran it last year and it is breathtakingly beautiful at the ranch where we camp. My training schedule called for a seven miler this week, so I was prepped and ready to go. Saturday morning dawns bright and beautiful, I eat my banana, slap on my shoes and my Garmin, and head out. I typically run the trails they have laid out for the motorcycle race (which is the following day) so that I don't get lost. Headed to the trail and right away, had a downhill course. Now, if you've ever been to the north Alabama foothills, you'll know what I mean when I say they are truly kick-butt hills. I stumbled down the first hill to a relatively level and root free trail for about two minutes, then it was up and up and up. Oh, my. My run quickly became a walk, then it dissolved into a barely discernible stumble. By mile 3, my back, which has been bothering me off and on for a couple of weeks, was in full revolt and had told my right leg to give me as much trouble as possible. I stumbled on for another couple of miles and then found my way back to the camper, where coffee and rest were waiting. Completely humbling.
I've been a runner long enough to know that setbacks occur. But, I'll be honest, when I have two long runs in a row that are that completely demoralizing, it does make me doubt. Can I really do this? Can I expect these old bones to train and complete a marathon? If you know me at all, you know that I'll find a way. But, it's weeks like these last two that remind me that it's not me at all. I can do nothing without the grace and mercy of God. I can do everything through Him.
So, I'm working on my pride problem. I really, really think it's resolved. At least where my running is concerned. Maybe He's working on other areas, as well. Whew!! I wish there was an easier way. I truly wish He didn't have to pound every lesson into my head with a north Alabama foothill.
18-20 "And if none of this works in getting your attention, I'll discipline you seven times over for your sins. I'll break your strong pride: I'll make the skies above you like a sheet of tin and the ground under you like cast iron. No matter how hard you work, nothing will come of it: No crops out of the ground, no fruit off the trees. Leviticus 26:19
Ok, Lord. You have my attention