I start with this video clip, not that it is really relevant, but I cannot encounter the word metaphor in any context without remembering this scene from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home:
After not running for a month between the flu and the surgery, I took off to the track during lunch yesterday marking the 2 week point from surgery. Ok, actually, it was 2 weeks + 1 day, but I guess I had enough forethought to know if I ran on Wednesday, I wouldn’t be able to run again until Friday which I don’t want to do because then I won’t run on Saturday. And I want to run Saturday. Anyway, the run completely sucked, and I discovered that I cuss a lot in my head when I run. Seriously, I tweeted that after I got back to work.
Turns out, I cuss a lot (in my head) when I run for the 1st time in a month.:-/
— DragonLady (@dragonlady38) March 29, 2012
So, it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t try to capture my thoughts as I ran like Whitney did and blogged: True Life: This is What I Think About When I Run. On the other hand, you all missed out on my internal dialogue alternately complaining/celebrating what is on my running playlist…which will be updated because Guns ‘N Roses has to go, and there isn’t near enough Paula Abdul. Oh, but you aren’t going to miss out on this at then end of 3rd lap/beginning of 4th lap.
Consistently walk fast if you can’t run.
Yes! More Paula!
“Baby he could promise me diamonds. Even if he promised me pearls. Honey, you know I ain’t lyin’. Listen as I tell it to the world!”
Great. I’m singing along with Paula as my nose runs. I’m bringing sexy back. Hmmm, I should probably make sure it’s not bleeding. Crap. It’s not. I can’t quit.
That’s not exact because I am sure that “Crap” was not the four letter word I used. And I know by now you are thinking “Where’s the metaphor?” It’s coming, but you know if I have an opportunity to link whore, I’m taking it.
So throughout the run, which was really mostly a fast walk, I was in a constant mental battle with myself over quitting. I went over there with a choice: I could run the sidewalk around the grounds – it’s a .75 mile loop – or I could run the track, which isn’t a standard quarter mile track. Rob said 5 laps is about 3.2 or 3.3 miles. He also said one round is .61 miles, and so that math doesn’t really equate. Still, I go with the 3.2 or 3.3. Just because. 4 laps of the sidewalk is 3 miles, so regardless, 5 laps of the track is over 3 miles, and so that’s what I chose. The track is also smoother, so that was another plus. But I digress.
The battle waged. I lamented the lack of shade which there is more of along the sidewalk. I lamented my lack of stamina and it’s not like I am a fast runner anyway. I lamented the wind. I determined that whether or not I use my inhaler has no bearing on my wheezing. I wanted to quit before I finished the 3rd lap. As I neared the end of the 4th lap, I got a little dizzy and thought I was either going to pass out or puke. Or maybe both. And I had long since given up on trying to do any more running at that point. But, no. I was more determined to do the full 5 laps even as a fast walk than I was to quit. Barely.
Life is like that a lot of times. You’re going along great at first, and then you get a little winded so you slow down. But sometimes it still sucks and you just want to give up and quit. Sometimes you trip, or even fall on your face. Sometimes you start hurting (not like a pull or a break) and you just want to sit and nurse that hurt instead of pushing through it. I didn’t fall on my face running, and really haven’t done that since high school (publically), but metaphorically, I fall on my face a lot doing life. Tripping over the same things over and over. Sometimes it gets really discouraging and I don’t want to get back up and go again. There is a short term payoff for wallowing in self-pity, just like there would have been a short-term payoff for quitting after 3 laps yesterday. But the short term never satisfies.
So as I lamented my lack of endurance to run as I kept telling myself “at least walk fast,” I thought of the words of Paul.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.
(1 Corinthians 9:24-26 ESV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)*
I don’t have really big goals for running. Not only do I have no desire to run a marathon, I don’t even have any desire to run a half-marathon. I want to be able to run a 5K, but no more than a 10K. But before I do either of those, I have to be able to run a mile. While I can’t even run a full mile yet without having to drop to a fast walk, I know it is possible. Once upon a time I was able to run 2 miles straight, and even do a fast sprint at the end. It was 1995, and I was in basic training, but it is possible. I wasn’t fast then, but I made my time with almost a minute to spare. haha Still, that’s why even if I only cumulatively run a mile, I still do at least 3. It is slow going, but I am gradually building endurance. After not running for a month, what little I managed yesterday hurt. My calves cramped all night. It hurts when I get up and walk today. In fact, it’s not just my legs that are sore today. My back and shoulders are sore, too. Today, I rest. Tomorrow, I try again.
And just as I keep walking when I can’t run anymore, I keep getting back up when I fall on my face in life and pressing forward. Because I have a goal. When I reach the end of my life, I want to be able to say, like Paul:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
(2 Timothy 4:7 ESV)
*Paul is traditionally considered the writer of Hebrews.