On a recent frosty morning, Adam, Jess and I ran in the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K in Atlanta. We rushed to get to the parking area by 6:30 am, then sat in the warm car talking and having a good time until we realized it was about time for the race to start! We then had to rush around to get to the porta-potty, get our numbers pinned on and get to the start! I was doing the longer race, so after getting them started, I went back to the car to get the rest of my stuff and stated laughing when I looked in my front window.
How classy, I thought! There was a roll of toilet paper, thoughtfully provided by Adam, and the copy of Run for God 10K/Half Marathon book sitting under it, displayed for all to see on the dash of my little Prius! As I have rattled this around in my head, however, I realized that the image represents running perfectly for me!
First, the toilet paper – running is first and foremost a physical act, involving all aspects of our bodies – including the part that comes in contact with the toilet paper! I am kind of a joke with my running buddies for struggling with what is known as “runner’s trots”, which is when the call of nature comes on at some point in the middle of a great run, and I don’t mean the need to pee. My race day and long run eating plans center around avoiding this unhappy occurrence, and without going into too much detail, suffice it to say it has ruined many a run for me. But beyond this part, running involves working to make my legs and lungs strong, keeping my body warm or cool, making sure I have adequate carbs and electrolytes, doing what I can to decrease chafing and blisters, and avoiding injury and soreness. Running has taught me to listen to my body for what it needs and I love how it feels when it responds to what I ask of it.
But running is so much more than the physical act of pushing my legs to shuffle along. It involves my whole self, especially the spiritual part that is represented by the Run For God book sitting on the dash. Running has taught me that no part of me acts without the rest – whatever I do, my physical, spiritual, mental and emotional self is involved. My friend and yoga teacher Angela Deaton, calls running “Moving Meditation”, which I love! Similar to the proverbial student taking a test and asking God for help, I have asked Him many times to get me through the next mile. Often I will say, “Okay, God, it’s just you and me out here, help me finish this out.” And then I start praying for everyone who comes to mind. I let my mind float freely in a way I never do when sitting with a devotional book or Bible or in church. When I am running, there are fewer distractions and I actually listen to what God is saying, as opposed to telling Him things. My mind is bored – imagine that! And that is when I am forced to listen.
God and I finished the 9.3 miles in a rush of endorphins and praise on Sunday! Adam and Jess met me at the finish with smiles and hugs. As we moved through the crowd for me to claim my prize of chocolate, Adam fished a wad of toilet paper from his pocket. “Here, Mom,” he said. “I knew you would need this.” How well my sweet boy knows me!