Tuesday, October 19, 2010

on your mark, get set, go.

I've never enjoyed running. But I really like the idea of it. I think it's because it's simple in theory. You don't necessarily need a gym or weights, and it's really good for you. When I was in middle school, I ran track. But even that was because I wanted to do the high jump. But in order to do that, you had to run at least one event. I was always in the second heat, and only did a relay. I wasn't good.

As much as I wasn't made for the sport of running, I love watching a good race. For the last 3 years, I've made it down to the Detroit Free Press Marathon, and I love it. This year, I didn't personally know anyone running in it, but a friend did, and I jumped on the opportunity to go watch. There were 19,749 people there who ran the race, and represented 49 states!

First off, I'm amazed that people can run 13.1 miles at a time, let alone 26.2! It's mind blowing for me to think about running for 5 hours straight. But standing on the sidelines as a cheerleader has always been a place I've felt comfortable. I saw shoeless runners, and some in costume. I saw old men and women, and very young children. I saw a dad get re-energized at the site of his 5 year old son on the sidelines. I watched him take a brief break to kiss his entire family, before taking off with more pep in his step, somewhere around the 12 mile mark (I'm guessing). His son looked on with his big blue eyes opened wide, and a huge grin on his face. His dad was a part of something big. His dad was running a marathon. There were funny shirts, costumes, and shirts that marked tribute to those that had their lives stolen from Cancer, MS, and other selfish diseases.

I had too many favorite parts to list them all. But I loved the 3 people running the race holding hands, the group of women dressed up as the Wonder Women that they are, the mother/son team, and the sign one spectator made that said, "I knew you could do it". Because where we were standing at the half marathon/marathon split, I'm sure all 19,000+ found that reminder helpful.

Each runner is given the option to have their name listed above their race number. Whoever first thought of that idea is genius. As a spectator, I felt valued as I yelled, "you're doing it, Anna" or "Keep up that pace, Dan". People I didn't even know, that I was given the opportunity to personally encourage. It's nothing short of awesome. Especially when you get eye contact, a tired smile, and a "thank you". I think I love it so much because both sides, the runner and the cheerleaders echo Biblical truth.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off anything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Heb 12:1

It's not uncommon to find sports as a symbolism in describing the faith of life. Especially with running. There's a start, a finish, rules, obstacles, drop outs, and victory celebrations! In both situations, the great cloud of witnesses reminds us that the race in winnable! That many have already won, and there are many more victories to come! I love the visual. The work, the effort, the cheers! It's inspiring and encouraging, and invigorating all at the same time! Most of the runners don't stop. They may change pace, but few don't finish, and none change directions. So on days when I'm feeling negligent on faith, and downright lazy, I think back on these races. It may not be easy, or enjoyable, but it's always rewarding to cross the finish.

1 comment:

Katie Veenstra said...

Em, I can't tell you enough, you are such a great writer. Your words, insight, humor, and organization speak right to my heart!

I love this post! What a great example of faith you have to eloquently described here. The analogy is so right on.

P.S. Don't you just love running at least a little bit after all our 5ks?!? Or at least the free stuff at the end?! :)