Saturday, October 12, 2013

Where 40 Days of Discernment has Led Me?

Before I comment on the conclusion of forty days of discernment on the road to better, I want to talk about the race today.  I ran a 1:33:20 half marathon.  I can look at this one of two ways.  As a shortcoming, it is 1 minute 38 second off my main goal (his 7:00 per mile average) or 3:20 off my other goal (run a 1:30).  In a more positive light, it is the fastest I have run a half marathon distance anywhere other than on the NCR trail, and it was on a course that was challenging.  Either way, I was happy with the experience.  A main observation is that I ran the first 5.7 miles (according to the official time) at a 6:47 pace and then slowed down.  I clearly lost some speed on the uphills to get to Lake Montebello and then never recovered and ran the negative splits I hoped for.

I have a second story about the race situation that I think is worth telling.  People who are not runners wonder about the fellowship among runners.  I saw an incredible example of that fellowship today.  There were two gentlemen I kept playing leapfrog with throughout the race.  The one guy first encouraged me as I passed by him working it up the hill running along Linwood.  Later when he had a chance to pass me, I encouraged him back.  Then, we traded encouragement back and forth throughout the rest of the race.  I couldn't estimate the guys age but he was wearing a sweatshirt, which I could not imagine wearing.  The other guy was a ginger-haired kid who looked about half my age.  I didn't say anything to him until I came up on him for what must have been the third or fourth lead change on Howard Street.  At that point, I said to him, "Hey, we've been playing leapfrog the whole race.  What do you have left?"  He eventually passed me again, and I tried to keep him in my sights the rest of the way.  But he did beat me (as did the other guy I mentioned).  What was cool was what happened after the race.  The first guy I described, I was close enough to at the end that we just gave each other a fist punch with a congratulations.  The second guy was a different story.  When the race is done, the runners walk a distance between barricades, then turn a corner, get a heat blanket, get a water, and get the medal.  I forget where in the process, I met the younger guy, but he actually turned around to look for me and went out of his way to congratulate me (and I returned the favor of course).  Maybe he would have done just as well if I had not challenged him to see what he had left.  But I would like to think that challenging him made a difference.  The fact that he made a point to come back speaks to the fellowship among runners.

So, how does this flow into my end of forty days discernment?  The themes I had through my forty days focused on running, work, religion, and family.  If I aim for a little alliteration, we could say "Fitness, Faith, Function, and Family".  

What I would say is that I have to make sure I keep up my fitness, faith, and function and that keeping all three of these working well would help me support my efforts to have the best family life I can.  If I had a really cool graphic design, I would have a four pointed pyramid (like an old four-sided die from Dungeons & Dragons) with fitness, faith, and function as the corners on the bottom supporting family at the top--because family comes above all else.

To do this all well, I need to make sure that I focus on what matters via Peter Block's logic (and only on what matters--so this may mean doing fewer things), give it my all and accept no less or feeling like I am wasting the Gift via Steve Prefontaine's words, and realizing that I have most of what I need in me already if I just try to find it via the Gospel reading last week.

So, a new focus on finding what I need in me and focusing and giving it my all, will be what I hold moving forward.  

And, I will think about how far I have already come.  The last time I ran the Baltimore Half Marathon (2009 to be exact when I ran a 1:46:05) I could not have imagined saying anything to the two guys I spoke to during the run today.  Thinking about other runners.  Thinking about how they help me and how I can help them.  And thinking about the importance of the connection at the end of the race.  I can take this to the office--thinking about professional development and what members of my team can do for me as well as get from me.  I can take this to other running situations.  I can take this to my Sunday school teaching as I think about each child's needs and what I can learn from each child.  And, of course, I can take this to my family-thinking about what each member needs from me and I from them.  All in the context of doing what matters and doing it well. 

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