"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What I Learned from Racing the Kenyans!

{NOTE: The following was originally posted on 7-27.  It was modified upon request of an external source for further publication.  Hope you enjoy.}

Well, technically it was more of participating with these elite athletes as opposed to racing, but it is a true statement none-the-less. It's part of the running experience that makes our sport so different than any other. Think about it.  In what other professional competition can you or I, average Joe and Jane, sign up, line up and race against the best in the world.  On that given day, if we were to catch lightening in a bottle, (or in my case, be struck by lightening so as to improve 4 minutes / mile), we would be crowned the winner.  We have the same opportunity as any other race bib out there to win that event. To me, that's pretty incredible.

On several occasions now I have enjoyed the scenario mentioned above.  As I think about these runs, I am left with the following thoughts:

 1."Elite" is found in all of us.  By no means am I making light of the tremendous accomplishments and abilities that these front runners bring to our sport.  However, we often fail to realize just how elite our marathon or half-marathon finishes are when viewed with the perspective of the population in general.  Fractions of a percent ever seek to train and complete a marathon. In fact, I have come to realize that all runners (casual joggers, 5k’ers, etc.) tend to exceed the fitness and perseverance limits that most will ever attempt.  We are elite, and having the chance to spread that elite-like quality out among thousands of racers is really the only right way to do it.

 2. Running is perhaps the most inclusive and global of all sports.  Could you imagine showing up at Augusta for your tee time with Phil? Or pulling your stock car into Charlotte Speedway for the qualification race?  Or even having a first round match against McEnroe or Borg, (yes, I'm very old school when it comes to tennis), at a sanctioned tournament. But in running it's different. Fill out the application, send in the entry fee and "presto", you're lacing them up just like the big boys and girls. In addition, the very presence of these international superstars is a reminder that even the poorest of nations are not prohibited from producing excellence.  Racial, socioeconomic, political or any other difference among us does not prevent participation.

 3. The sound you hear in a distance is not a stampede of wild horses! It was the 2004 Country Music Marathon that I discovered this awesome sensation.  In a section of the course where mile 7 and mile 13 pass in opposite directions, I found myself running near the middle of the street. I can still recall hearing that thundering beat as the herd of leaders came into view. Before I knew it, these guys were flying by with the most effortless strides I had ever seen up close.  Packed in as if attempting to mime an overcrowded elevator, and appearing to move as one.  It was an unexpected thrill.  (Of course, I immediately calculated that I would need to run 45 second miles to try and catch them.)

In closing, the good news is that with each race my time gets faster at a much greater rate than the professionals.  Who knows, maybe one day I’ll catch them. Until then, I'll be content to simply be within a few hundred feet at the starting line.  The same one that we will all cross to begin that day's journey.
Run long, and go race a Kenyan, or Ryan Hall, or Deena Kastor, or David Holcomb.

No comments:

Post a Comment