Monday, June 6, 2011

#335: A Holy Run

Glutes: the biggest muscles you have,
except for this guy, whose shoulders
are bigger than his butt.
8.4 miles yesterday. The run felt great. Now it's the morning after, and I'm pretty stiff and sore. I just love working out so hard that my glutes hurt. You use those big butt muscles all the time, but really working them isn't easy. It feels great, but I think there are a couple of walking days in my future until the old legs recover. I actually do have a couple of short runs scheduled this week, then another long one on the weekend. After that, I'm going to taper back a little for the 10K on July 4. Yes, I've registered. I'm gonna do it.

Yesterday was my best time for 10K. It was also my longest run to date. .It was hot, between 78 and 82 degrees. I slathered on the sun screen and carried a bottle of Gatorade with me. It wasn't long before I was wishing it was ice water instead, because I really wanted to dump some on my head. I'm not going to complain about my thick, dark hair, not at my age, but it is definitely a liability when running in the sun. It wasn't long before the water was actually hot. This amused me since I was running in the same sun and probably cooking at the same rate. I had no heat illness symptoms though, so I guess I was hydrating well, even if I could have made sun tea in my hand.
I stuck with my current Run/Walk interval: 2:00 run/0:30 walk. It really worked for me and I think I'm going to keep that ratio for a while. I can cover a surprising amount of ground in 2 minutes, and the half-minute rest is just enough for me to catch my breath, check my posture, and take a sip of fluid before the watch beeps again for my next run. I keep getting faster, so something good is happening.

Pacing is hard for new runners. Without experience, it's difficult to know just how fast you are running, or how fast you should be running. It usually takes me about 2 miles to really start to feel in a groove. I always start out way too fast. I keep having to remind myself to slow. My splits were consistent, though: the fastest mile was 13:16, (stupidly, this was mile 1.) The slowest was 14:56. mile 8. That surprised me because I still felt strong. I guess I wasn't as impressive as I felt. Still, eight sub 15 minute miles felt prett good for a fat man.
A bridge on the Legacy Trail

There was something holy about yesterday's run. I don't think I experience the "runner's high" that you read about, though I was running pretty painlessly. My last mile was a lot easier than my first steps toward the bathroom this morning. The holy part came at the mile 7 mark when I realized that I was actually going to be able to do this. I had already finished 10, and in good time. I had a mile to go, and would be able to finish that, too. I even had plenty of hot Gatorade left in my hand. For the first time in a long time, I prayed. I mean, I really prayed.

In the same way, the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself intercedes with groans too deep for words, and the one who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, for the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to God's will. ~ Rom 8:26-27

There is a holy place in our lives where words just can't say what needs to be said. In the arms of our beloved. At the top of a mountain. In the dressing room after a great performance. I imagine that the birth of your child is one of them, too. At times like these, our prayers really are "too deep for words," and all we can do is stand in the presence of our Creator like a child in the rain, letting the Spirit wash over us. That's what happened to me when I got in the car to drive home after my cool-down. I felt God's arms around me, God's breath breathing in my lungs, God's joyful tears cooling my face as we both celebrated the healing and resurrection that my run represented. God didn't speak to me in this moment, and I didn't speak either. We just were. We rode together in the car, sipping on a vanilla milk shake from Dairy Queen, feeling the wind on our faces and smiling. It has been hard for me to feel worshipful in church for a couple of years. I keep going back, hoping that one day I will feel my Father's presence again. Yesterday, on a sweaty, exhausting morning, with my eyes burning from the sun and my legs already stiffening, I felt Him. The Creator of the world took a moment to sit with me and smile.

These moments are rare. That's what makes them holy. Now it is time to go back to work. Our lives can be seen as a combination of worship and ministry. We come into God's presence to find the strength and the inspiration to go into the world and do the work of the kingdom among God's people. Here is one of my favorite passages from the Eucharistic Prayer.

Lord God of our Fathers; God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: Open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us. Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name.

Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the Bread. ~ Book of Common Prayer, p. 372.

From Pennsy's training table
Bread, ice cream: turns out either will work. One is just easier to break. So I continue to look for ways to minister. I serve my wife. I raise money for diabetes. I look after my animals. I bring joy to my work in the rehearsal hall. I call my Mum. And I write this blog. I don't know if any of these things is ministry, or if any of them is the reason God and my doctors brought me back from the dead. I can't tell you if I have found my true calling: my vocation. But moments like that drive home yesterday are what give me the strenth to keep looking for it.

We often enounter our holy places where we least expect them. Like somewhere between mile 7 and the Dairy Queen. I pray that you find yours today.

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.



  1. Thank-you so much Bob. This ministers to me roday. ". . . God has chosen to make known . . . the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Col. 1:27

  2. Bob - pacing. Here is a general rule of thumb if you can't carry on a conversation while you run, then you are going too fast.


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