Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day Twenty Seven: Nobody gonna break-a my stride

I started running in earnest after I had graduated from seminary and moved my newly-wed self with my husband to Nashville.  As is often the case with freshly-married (unemployed!) couples, we were on a really tight budget, so no gym, and we didn't really know anyone, so no pick-up sports or leads on the local softball league.

Life has its stressors and a new house, new city, and miserable failure of a job search were mine at the time.  With as many sports as I have played in my life, I had never really done any running, other than limping along with training runs for high school soccer.  Running, I figured, was not my "thing."

But being stressed out and on a budget will make people do strange things.  Like lace up and get going.  In that first 6 months in Nashville, I was stung by a bee (I'm allergic), lost (more than once), caught in a tornado warning (stupid, stupid, stupid), and chased by angry neighborhood dogs whose rotten owners do not believe in fences or leashes.  But I also achieved my goal: 3 miles of uninterrupted running.  Woot!

Since then, running has become my "thing".  There are lots of other "things" that I love to do in my spare time, but few other things have served me as consistently and faithfully as running.  I have taken breaks for injuries and pregnancies but I always manage to come back to it, sometimes in earnest, like now, and sometimes just for low-grade maintenance.

I'm not a great runner.  Hell, I'm not even a good runner.  I'm really (really really) slow.  But I am a runner.  I wake up early.  I take care of my shoes.  I drink a lot of water.  I log my miles and sometimes I even brag about them.  But I am happiest when I'm running regularly and will often make some moderate sacrifices to make sure that happens.  Once, in Runner's World magazine, I saw an advertisement for some product that bragged that their product was so cool it was for "real runners, not people who push jogging strollers."  I assure you, having pushed both my children (separately) on training runs up and down the hills of Atlanta, that ad creator has no idea what he is talking about.  I'm a runner, dammit, baby jogger or not.

I ran 18 miles this morning and I'm really proud of myself.  This is the farthest I've ever run and I ended strong, feeling really good.  

Theologian Roberta Bondi talks about "praying the crossword puzzle", her way of explaining how she prays while she does normal, everyday tasks.  Well, I pray while I'm running.  Not the whole time, not even every time, but when I'm running, I'm thinking about everything that is going on in my life and in the lives of the people I'm connected to.  And as I'm thinking, I'm praying, for healing, for redemption, in thanksgiving, in sadness.  Prayers when I run come as naturally as the rhythm of my footfalls.  When I finish my run, even if I am physically spent, I often feel spiritually refreshed, having offered the worries and stresses of my life up to the only One who really has any power to do anything about it.

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