Wednesday, April 14, 2010

running with a joyful heart

Last Saturday, Brad and I enjoyed lunch with Mark, one of Brad's friends from college who visited for the weekend to run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on Sunday. After we bemoaned our lack of training and confessed our temptation to ditch the race and sleep past the necessary 5 a.m. wake-up call, our conversation turned to a more serious topic: Mark's 37-year-old brother who was diagnosed with colon cancer last spring and is still alive today though the doctors gave him only two months to live.

Mark's brother, and several others who either have been or are currently in his situation, dominated my heart on Sunday as I ran the race. I thought about how I've known more people in their 30s and 40s suffer and die from cancer than I ever imagined I would. I thought about what it would feel like to run a beloved race one year and not be able to participate the following year because of physical limitations. I thought about a woman at church who overcame cancer a few years ago, ran our favorite local race last May, and just last Sunday pumped up Brad and me to run it again this year. She's taking this year off from the race--her cancer came back--but she's looking forward to running it in 2011. I pray she is able to.

I take these races and a gazillion other things in life for granted.

Despite my temptation, I know I never could bail on any race I register for. Being blacklisted from future lotteries is only a minor consequence. Today, the Lord has blessed me with the physical health to run ten miles or more with relatively little preparation, effort, or discomfort. My heart pumps my blood, my lungs bring me an abundance of air, my legs faithfully carry me mile after mile, and my drive pushes me forward to the finish line. I can do all of these things today, but who knows about tomorrow?

My preparation, or lack of it, no longer matters. Completion times--whether they are my best or worst--are just numbers. For now, I'll run each race because I physically and mentally can. And most importantly, I'll run for those who wish they could.

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