Speed Is Not As Important As Staying in the Race
Kimberly N. Alleyne
The Harvest Magazine, Publisher and Editor
I recently registered for the 2016 Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler. #Excited! Training has already started. Running is a great release for me; it has been for many years. I’m not a stellar runner, but I am in my happiest space when I’m outdoors; but, for myriad reasons, I’ve taken the last several months off from running. Training for the Cherry Blossom race is already underway, so I’m slowly getting back in the swing of things. For now, my runs are more painful than enjoyable. That’s because I have to re-establish my endurance.
Ugh!! Building endurance is the hardest part of training. Running coaches and experienced runners will tell you to build your endurance first, and then work on your speed. You won’t care if you can run an eight-minute mile if you can only last two miles in a 10-mile race.
Running a good race is all about your run economy — how you negotiate your breathing, foot strike, time, speed and pace.
Thank goodness I am far removed from the first race I ran more than a decade ago. It was a 15K, and I finished in last place. Please understand: Not next to last, not second to last, not among the last wave of runners — I was the very last person to cross the finish line. In fact, by the time I made it to the finish line, race volunteers were already packing up and most of the pizza was gone! I was perfectly humiliated.
I eventually stopped being so hard on myself because I did my best, and, more important, I stayed in the race. I did not give up. And I was actually oblivious to what the other runners were doing; I simply focused on my race. I stayed in my lane. Now, clearly I was in the turtles-only lane, but hey, I finished and I was happy about that.
Running metaphors are common in writing. Not surprisingly, Apostle Paul used running metaphors to liken our walk with the Lord in his charge to the Church at Corinth:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” I Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)
It is a race isn’t it? This life, our service, our wait on the Lord’s return make for one long race. Sometimes we jog, other times we sprint, other times we hobble along because we are [spiritually] injured or disenchanted, and still other times we walk.
“Therefore,” the unknown Hebrews author wrote, “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.” Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
When I was an immature, unlearned Christian, I placed great value on titles and being recognized. Those things (things of vapor) shaped my confidence and worth. It has been a long time since I cared about such unimportant things. I still serve, and use my giftings, but I don’t need to have my name called or to have it in lights. As a matter of fact, I don’t want those things. I am not looking for celebrity, or for a platform. Everything I do is for God’s platform. Whatever void I previously had that caused me to seek after recognition or approval addiction has been filled to overflowing by God’s healing virtue, and His love, acceptance and tenderness.
What I most want now is my crown. That’s what is most important to me.
I stumble often. Sometimes I limp. Sometimes I amble along. But I never walk or run aimlessly– and I don’t stop. God does not care about my pace or speed. He cares about my heart condition, my love walk, and my faith to keep running. I stay in the race. When I am on the verge of quitting, I saturate myself in the Lord’s presence, and He refreshes me (Acts 3:20).
That–HE–is all I need.
I am in this to finish, to win. And the crown waiting for me is far grander than the medal I will receive at the Cherry Blossom 10-miler finish line. It is perfectly fitted for me and my own unique race. In this race, the one for the peculiar people, there is no last place that I became familiar with all those years ago when I was in the turtles-only lane. In this race, everyone who finishes wins.
Have a good race!