Monday, February 4, 2008

Sermon in running shoes

Yesterday, Rachelle ran the Surf City Half Marathon, her first real distance race. She pounded out 13.1 miles in horizontal rain that bowed the palm trees lining the course and provoked the Pacific Ocean just beyond.

I took Brielle along to send Mommy off, cheer her on and pick her up. The race taught Rachelle a lot, I’m sure (not least, the blessedness of ibuprofen). But as leader of her father-daughter support team, I was thinking all day about what Brielle might learn from the day. Here are some of my top hopes:

Exercise is great fun. Enough people exercising in one place makes for parties—first the one where fitness companies give you free bites of their chocolate bars and shots of their vitamin juice, then the one where everyone pours past whooping and smiling.

Sometimes the best, healthiest thing to do is to go outside and play in the freezing rain. Getting soaked is not the end of the world; heater and dry clothes await you back in the minivan. Love constrains you out from under the eaves seeking a shot at cheering for someone who gives your world meaning—even if you cheer for a wet 45 minutes and never see Mommy.

Trying something difficult is scary but worth it. Rachelle spent the night stressing about the next day’s challenge, didn’t fancy getting out of her warm vehicle in the inclement weather, and arrived at the finish line three hours later ecstatic about it all. “Now I know why you do this,” she told me.

You’re more likely to do crazy, great things when a friend is with you—but it’s still up to you to finish. Rachelle would never have signed up for this gig if her buddy, Dori, had not been doing it. She might not have run the first 8 miles so fast if Dori were not rocking and running beside her, sharing the Beatles tunes, one ear bud each from the same MP3 player. But her last five lonely miles, after Dori pulled away, were just about personal grit.

Growing hurts. But it beats the alternative. Rachelle’s ankle pain nearly crippled her at work today, partly because mommyhood and life severely compromised her training schedule, and partly because her new control shoes were asking her feet to roll in a way to which they were unaccustomed. She was in tears by mile 10, and will be hopping around home on her left foot tomorrow. But so far, she wouldn’t trade the pain for the rush.

Fit is fun. Get wet and cold for love’s sake. Risk. Partner up, but pull your own weight. Grow through the pain.

Any luck and these lessons will be as dear to Brielle someday as Motrin is to Rachelle right now.


Anonymous said...

Congrats to Rachelle! I'm very impressed - and maybe I'll even get motivated! I was running 5 miles regularly a couple of years ago, but I really need to find some activity now - not only to lose the last 2 baby pounds, but also to set an example for Esme.

I've been thinking that, as the mother of a girl, it's really important to role model enjoyment of exercise. Esme's daddy is very active and gets her doing all kinds of crazy things, but is that enough, or will she someday think only boys play sports?

Jon said...

Hey Mike,

Very true life lessons. :-)
I always appreciate your thoughts! Congrats to Rachelle!! She is more man than I will ever be. ;-) It was great hanging with you guys the night before with others from Sacred Hearts. Looking forward to our next retreat in April!

At His Feet,

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