Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Good Race

It could not have been a more beautiful day. The sky was bright, air clear, temperatures crisp. The brilliant colors of fall covered the mountainside, leaves refusing to lose their grip on the trees at the lower elevations. And there I was, running through woods just as happy as could be. That was a nice change.

In recent years, I haven't always been happy. Races had become a chore. An obligation. Sure, there was some satisfaction in getting the job done but there were many more moments of pain and suffering, both mental and physical. I suppose there were a lot of reasons for that; insufficient training, poor time management, getting pulled in a hundred directions, burnout after nearly two decades of hard running, and the prevailing thought that I would rather have a power tool or shovel in my hand to work on a big project. Hence, not a lot of smiles.

Photo courtesy of Seth Trittipoe
But this year was different. The start of the Mountain Masochist 50 Mile Trail run in the pre-dawn hours was met with an element of anticipation. I had put in long trail miles through the summer and daily shorter, more intense miles with my cross country team. There is something motivating about trying to stay ahead--or at least abreast--of the team members. It's that example thing that spurs you on to producing pools of sweat, aching legs and burning lungs. A few pounds shed in the process and no injuries loomed on the horizon. I thought there was a possibility of a good day.

The miles clicked by as did the mental cogs in my brain. Eat. Drink. Run when I'm supposed to run. Walk when I'm supposed to walk. Be smooth and efficient. Get to Long Mountain Wayside in good time. The race starts there.

For the first time in the race, I glanced at my watch at the "halfway" point; a bit more than the 26.9 mile advertised distance. History has proven that no matter how speedy or turtle-like, if you double the first half time, you get pretty close to your finish time. My watch said 5:11.  I wanted to be closer to ten hours than eleven. There was hope.

My second half was more social than the first. I ended up playing cat and mouse with a number of the same guys. A few wanted to know what was coming up in the course and I was happy to share my knowledge with them, this looking to be my thirteenth finish. Strong marching up the hills and steady running felt good. I was able to pass a good number of people, particularly encouraging in the closing miles of the race. With sore feet from significant rock-kicking my only malady, I crossed the line in 10:18.

10:18. Definitely not my fastest (8:57 back in 1998) and not my slowest (11:14 in 2006). However, I had not run better since 2004. I enjoyed the day, embracing the hardship of the elevation gain and the terrain. I had no in-the-pit low times. I was able to eat and drink with ease (except when I overdosed on Gummy Bears.) I was dressed perfectly for the day and enjoyed making footprints in the first snow of the year. It was a good race and a good ending.

A good race. I think of another good race; the one I am to be running on a daily basis. Sure, there will be rough spots in that race. Times of doubt. Times of angst. But there will also be joy and movement forward will be possible through love.

Run the good race.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-3)


Rick Gray said...

As we have discussed, God does have a plan for us. We don't always know what it is, but we have to have the faith and keep trudging forward. There were so many things that were a part of that plan in your great Masochist this year. You were given a beautiful day and the conditions that you thrive in. There was beauty all around you and you carried that smile with you the whole day. You knew it was a day that God had provided for you. Yea, part of the plan involved coaching your cross-country team and having to set the example of being strong and fast. In fact, you set that example of running with them day in and day out. What better speed training could you have. Just a few minutes after I finished, here you came running quickly down the road. That smile was all over your face and I knew your day had continued to be wonderful. You were a witness to Christ's love for us and I could see it in your smile and eyes. I knew who you thanking at that moment.

simplyMae said...

sound like it was a great race...i wish i could have been there. I miss you!!!


Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Thanks, Rick and Deb. And yes, Deb, I miss you two. Those training run we did were so much fun!

Follow the yellow lines

Jack in his younger days "Well, you know I can't live here by myself. I'm moving in with you." I guess he was serious....