New Distances

Today was a beautiful, full-of-grace kind of day.  I have been anticipating today with equal parts of excitement and fear – today is the day I will run my longest distance yet.  We are in Escanaba, not super familiar with the town, so yesterday we scoped out possible running opportunities for me.  This morning, I asked Bill to take me and drop me off – and I would call when ready for a pick-up.

Instead of dropping me off, Bill went off in one direction, and sent me off in the other.  This wonderful guy set his own record by logging 13.4 miles!  When I discovered that he had stayed near, I almost cried.  He has put up with my crazy in so many ways – and continues to support each new crazy that comes along.  This is my first grace of this day – realizing that God brought this wonderful man into my life – even though I have done nothing good enough to deserve him.

The next grace was the message to let go of expectations – and this was reinforced in several formats this morning.  Emails, posts, devotional reading, everywhere I turned.  What else could I do?  I let go of any expectation I might have been holding on to, and set off to find joy and dance with the excitement and fear.  I am a slow runner – I don’t care.  (In fact, lots of people walk faster than I run – but that is their journey – not mine.)  I say this about being slow to frame the picture here – 16 miles is a lot of thinking time!  Usually, I plug in my headphones at the onset – not today.  Today, I spent several miles with myself and my thoughts to listen to.  After a bit, I plugged in to what I normally play.  Unusually, that wasn’t comfortable today – so I opted for the setting that said “just run”.  I’ve never used that one before, and am really glad I was introduced to it today!

I was pretty sure I had calculated what I needed to get my intended 15 miles in.  Endorphins, joy, sunshine, and a whole host of other factors can really mess with your mind…at about 10.5 miles, I quickly did the math in my head – and came up 2 miles short if I didn’t add more distance.  I recalculated again, and still came up short by a mile.  Third calculation – and I decided I better add a mile at least, and then I could just finish up whatever I needed when I got back to where I started.  Conveniently, there was a cemetery – so I ran through the cemetery.  What an amazing place to run!  (Yup, more grace!).  Gratitude for the veterans – and this was a pretty old cemetery, so many wars were represented.  Appreciation for the longevity, and long marriages.  Sorrow for those who died at a young age.  And for myself – thankful that I was “topside”, and grateful that runs like this will hopefully keep me that way longer…  Next to the cemetery was the airport – and well, you really shouldn’t just run past the airport without stopping to say “Hi!”.

The next grace was found at 13.3 miles, according to my Garmin.  At that distance, I realized that every step I took was exploring new distance territory.  Almost 3 miles of “new”!  With that realization, each step became a joy, and a sort of prayer of thanks to God for this body.  I’m pretty sure it can do so much more than I ever gave it credit for – I really need to take better care of it!

Bill walked toward me, and met me for the last mile in.  We walked it together – holding hands for part of it (holding hands is THE BEST!).  It still counts – the walking part – we covered the miles.  Life is really so good – so full of grace, we just have to be open to it.  Be intentional about seeking it out, and not be so busy that we just walk right past it.

In two weeks, I expect to have the opportunity to set another new distance record for myself.  I will enjoy the excitement, the anticipation, the wonder, and yes – the fear.  And once again, joy and grace will be the reward.

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