Late in spring of this year, I wrote down a goal.
The goal was pretty straight forward: run a half marathon.
I have enjoyed running for the majority my life, although, I have never ran more that 7 miles at any given time. A half marathon is 13.1 miles. And just because I enjoyed it, I have never been good at it. So I googled half marathons nearby and the one that was closest to me was a ‘trail half marathon’. The Rugged Red takes place in the scenic Red River Gorge (www.ruggedred.org). The Gorge is beautifully rough terrain, known for its hiking and premiere rock climbing destinations.
So when and how I signed up and my adventures in training I will save for another day. But for today, I want to talk about a bit of reality that I became of aware of during the race.
The first 8-9 miles felt great. I was tired, yes – but at 2 hours I felt surprisingly good. I felt confident. Any fears or worries I may have had leading up to the race, were far from my mind.
Then came a wall. The wall.
Not a rock wall or something I had to physically scale on the terrain, but “the wall”. I had heard of hitting the wall when you are running, but I had not encountered it up to this point ever in my running life. Yet, here it was – I had ran out of water and had just passed the last water station. The nutrition I had brought was gone. I had not anticipated this – but how could I know – I had never run this far before.
It was when I hit this wall that all the fears creeped back in. Do I have what it takes? Was the training enough? Why didn’t I bring more food? All of these things came flooding to my brain and I could not outrun them. Please understand this — when running at this distance your brain is doing weird things. It wanders and logic is not always clear.
So – the wave that started as a physical reality quickly became a mental/spiritual battle. And here is where a mindset in which I have always have seen life came abundantly clear.
I did not know where the path was going next. I could only see about 50 yards ahead at most times during the last portion of the race. The trail bent and turned often. It rose and fell even more. I could not predict or plan for what was any further than a few steps ahead. I could only run the path that I could see. Make the turn. Run that. Go up. Go down. Repeat. I had to shift my thinking from plotting how to get to the end and concentrate just on taking the next step.
I was put in a place where I had to face one of my greatest addictions. My addiction to control. I love to plot the days ahead. I will protect myself in such a way that I did not get too out of control and will do a lot of risk management.
There on the trail, hitting a wall physically, I saw my life. I saw a few things that have been consuming me internally. Things that I have been trying to figure out.
I have been saying this in my head, “If this happens and I do this, or do not do this then that will mean that “x” will be and then that…”
Even reading that sentence again makes my head hurt— I have been running multiple scenarios through my head- each scenario with multiple outcomes. My only job right now is to run the path that is before me. My only responsibility is to responsive to what God is calling me to right now.
I am not responsible for the trail ahead.
I am only responsible for what is right in front of me.
If am tired, or worn down, I must keep moving forward.
To finish the race on Saturday, I had to change my mindset to ‘take the next step’ and to finish the race of life, I have to adopt the same.