‘A sound healthy body and a cheerful attitude are more valuable than gold and jewels’ – Sirach 30:15 (NRSV)
There are many reasons to run. Perhaps the most popular reason is to lose weight. I admit that running makes fitting into a pair of skinny jeans easier, but it’s not my top reason for running. It actually falls rather low on my long list of reasons to run. So why do I run? My number one reason to run is to find inner peace. The motions of running soothe my soul, like the rocking of a cradle soothes a baby to sleep. Suddenly all the stress of being a wife and a mother melts away and I’m able to concentrate on my physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
When I step outside for my run, God’s presence surrounds me. I see him in the golden rays of sunlight through a canopy of red, yellow, orange and brown foliage. I feel him in the bite of cool, morning air. I smell him in the rich aroma of falling leaves. Running is God’s way of opening my eyes to his beautiful creation, revealing the joy to be found in the simple things.
As I run, I hear God speak to me through the movements of my body. With the pumping of my arms and legs, the pounding of my feet on the pavement, the beating of my heart, the expanding and contracting of my lungs, I hear him say, “I made every intricate part of your body that allows you to experience this world in so many different and wonderful ways. This is my gift to you.”
I answer him with every snap, crackle and crunch of leaves under my running shoes. With every deep breath I take, I respond, “Thank you.” To show my gratitude I straighten my shoulders, hold my head high and lift my legs higher, pushing myself to go faster, to go longer. I breathe in the pure spring air and breathe out the toxins in my body and in my soul. Endorphins burst like bubbles of happiness and flow straight to my heart, lifting it with joy.
It occurs to me that God’s most valuable gifts are often taken for granted. What other gifts do I take for granted? Then like a coach, I hear God encouraging me, “Your faith is my gift to you, too. Exercise it. Do not let it become weak or frail and let it atrophy. ”
With God as my coach, I realize that true strength in life comes from my faith. Through the training and conditioning of my body, I increase my flexibility, build strength and endurance. If I apply this discipline to the spiritual side of my life, I can develop the necessary skills to effectively pray, worship, and serve the Lord.
Run the Race
Pittsburgh Marathon as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training (2002) – 4:46:41
Marine Corps Marathon (2002) – 5:48:06
Pittsburgh Marathon (2014) -5:07:43
Pittsburgh Marathon (2015) – 4:58:52
Chambersburg Half Marathon (2002) – 2:09:30
Chambersburg Half Marathon (2014) – 2:07:03
Chambersburg Half Marathon (2015) – 2:08:03
5K Run for Alzheimer’s (PR)- 25:58
Greencastle Turkey Trot (2014) – 25:14 (New PR)
5K Run for Alzheimer’s (2014) – 26:05
Race Against Poverty 5K 2015 – 27:50
Shad Bloom 10K (Block Island, RI) – 1:15:31 (NOT a PR)
I’m a long distance runner, but not a fast one! I have run two marathons. The first was the Pittsburgh marathon and I ran it as part of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. (Herald Mail article here)
I was really excited about running to help someone, but the Marine Corps marathon wasn’t nearly as exciting since I was running it on my own. Over the years I’ve realized that I don’t have the passion to race unless it’s for a good cause.
Several years ago Menno Haven, a local retirement community, held a 5K to benefit the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. The first event was held the year my grandmother’s condition had started to rapidly deteriorate and I was so angry, but I saw the flyer for the race and immediately felt better because I could actually do something to fight the disease that had taken my grandmother from me. At the start of the race, the pastor said a prayer with just the words I needed to hear; it felt like God himself was speaking to me. I cried the entire 3.1 miles, and at the end of the race, every bit of anger had drained away.