April 14, 2012
It’s been just shy of a year since I last ran. This morning I logged one day in a row in what might be a last-ditch attempt to run again.
My litany of excuses is exhaustive … chronic injury … atrial fibrillation … painful life transition … and I could go on. I have nowhere near the right to complain that some do. And those whose obstacles dwarf my excuses still press on. I think that this is what I admire most and what has been the predominant learning over 31 years of running … no matter what, you keep on going toward the finish line.
My soul cries for the regularity of this experience even more than my body. There is a life-framing that takes place when the mind and heart rule the body. When the body is master, life becomes a sluggish bi-product to self-destructive behaviors, whims, addictions. The pursuit of pleasure is one that turns sour in the end and brings regret as the birthdays stack up.
I am by heart and passion a follower of Christ. I don’t do it well and I am at peace with my imperfection in all areas of life. Calling myself a runner does not imply that I am an elite athlete and calling myself a Christian does not imply that I am without blemish or inconsistency. You don’t have to be an elite anything to be passionate about life. The “least of runners” can enjoy the sport as much as the “chief of runners”. So, for me, the least of Christ-followers, I enjoy the process of putting one foot ahead of the other and trying to keep Him in sight.
Inside of my heart, today, there is the flicker of hope that showing up and doing whatever I can that brings me to my limits … pushing the wall farther and farther from the starting line … this ultimately benefits me in many ways. It makes me see life differently. It changes my perspective on relationships. I learn to breathe deeply rather than the shallow stressed breaths that a non-intentional life serves us.
So for any others who have one day in a row under your belts … way to go! Let’s try it again tomorrow.
June 19, 2010
Okay . . . most of us are in our 50’s. I know that in the last 3 years I have actually felt my age and perhaps a couple more. Tigger remains timeless, showing virtually no sign of accumulating birthdays. Skipper doesn’t have a joint on his body that is pain free. Gimli . . . well he has a Harley and a goatee to match . . . looks pretty good too. Does anyone know if Gringo has entered his fifth decade? I do know that the Argentinian training program is terminal for most of us especially seeing its effect on the one who developed it.
There are some younger ones . . . yes. The kids and the kids, aside from Ruperts commitment aversion, seem fairly good with the last reduction in the President’s Challenge. And maybe in reality, this is simply a dose of 50 + years of reality hitting hard. I don’t know.
SOOOOOOOOOO . . . . .
I am prepared to throw down one last effort at making the PC palatable to all of you old farts. The young bucks can do this with ease and perhaps inspire the rest of us to reach a bit farther as well.
- Whereas these and other circumstances constitute the current reality of an aging runner’s club;
- Whereas there seems to be a general lack of grass roots response to the 1st and 2nd readings of the President’s Challenge;
- Whereas the cost of the Gulf Coast clean up will likely impact our gas prices adversely . . . at some point;
- Whereas the early morning noise of socks being pulled up over hairy legs, is a sleep deterrent to at least one of the wives of the 6AM’ers;
- Whereas, coming to coffee dressed up like you ran, actually constitutes a run equal to half of what you would have run . . . if you had actually run;
- Whereas coming late and leaving early, although unverifiable, also constitutes a 1 count in the monthly totals;
- Whereas coming to St. Timothy’s, in and around the time that runners would converge on our early morning edifice, is important for the health and longevity of the group;
- Whereas the motto of the group has recently changed from, “6AM Runners . . . not to fast . . . not to slow . . . half fast.” . . . to . . . “6AM Runners . . . running is optional and coffee is mandatory.”;
- Whereas, the President, in life transition and exodus from pastoral ministry, has a little more time to waste on this kind of stupid stuff;
Be it therefore resolved once more that the President’s Challenge be further reduced to 12 times* a month.
Now if any of you continue to struggle with this, let’s just pretend that it is going to work for you. Pick up the oven mitt that I have thrown down and in the spirit of all that is feminine, rise to this “not-real-challenging” challenge.
I love you . . .
May God bless us every one . . .
*12 times a month is the reasonable suggestion of Johnnie O
June 17, 2010
Okay . . . so Johnnie O., Tigger and Dexter were out today. Dexter chased a terrified squirrel up the backstop in the ballpark . . . this squirrel narrowly escaped with his life.
When Dexter is not out in the morning, this is Tigger’s job. He didn’t get the squirrel today but he got a raven yesterday . . . nailed him. On the way to Woodstock I think . . . the raven was either sick, stupid or arrogant, all potentially fatal. There is a dent in the grill of Tigger’s new car, to commemorate this rare occurrence.
Oh yes . . . Skipper showed for coffee around 7:00a when we were all leaving. Sorry Steve.
So . . . on my run today, I was doing math in my head and talking to God. Perhaps I was a bit over zealous when I put yesterday’s challenge at 20 times a month. Today, . . . out of pure concern for the rest of you, I have decided to reduce the size of the gauntlet and suggest that our target should be . . . ummm . . . let me see . . . let’s say 16 times a month without prejudice to distance covered.
So that’s my final offer . . . unless my run/prayer time produces something additional tomorrow.
June 16, 2010
Starting July 1, I am throwing down the gauntlet as opposed to throwing in the towel. This year has held tremendous change, physical challenges and upheaval in my personal life. Running has been a lifeline for me over the years in many ways. The obvious benefits are physical. The not-so-obvious benefits . . . mental, social, spiritual, perspective, stress management . . . the list goes on.
Currently, I am unable to log any great amount of distance. I was doing the Math as I was waddling along yesterday. 5 times a week at an average of 3 miles per run would give me 780 miles in a year. That would be a great year for me at this stage of my life.
Here’s my challenge to the 6AM buddies. I’d like to challenge you to 20 times out in a month. I don’t care how far you run . . . just that you come out 20 times. If you fall behind in a given week, you can make it up here or there. Or that would be 240 times a year. You can miss 125 times a year and still be “bang on”.
So, . . . respond to this post brothers . . . let me know if you are in?? I’ll keep the stats and chase you for them if you become a bit delinquent in your reporting.
March 10, 2010
There’s a contradiction in terms . . . a paradox . . . ? One of the 30 yr. old freedoms that I enjoy as a 6AM runner is the freedom from behavioral expectations.
Many times I have reflected that my early morning, “not-so-polished” companions have been absolute angels of God, sent to keep me sane in the otherwise periodically maddening world of pastoral ministry. Every once in a while I realize that I haven’t shifted out of “Rev.” and then one of my buddies brings me back to early morning reality.
They don’t look so good in the morning. They don’t smell so good. They rarely say, “Excuse me . . . “. There is absolutely no sympathy to be had and quickly a fledgling 6AM’er surrenders this expectation to the therapeutic value of learning to laugh at oneself as opposed to feeling sorry for the same.
The refreshing thing is that they are REAL!
In the early morning pre-dawn hours before the world puts its masks in place, no one expects or wants anything else.
One thing that I am struggling with these days is the “No man runs alone.” thing. As I have tried to regain my slow status, I want to run alone.
Now this is one of those few “polite” gestures that we offer to people who want to start running. I think the intent is good and the sentiment . . . so lusciously thoughtful.
But . . .
leave me alone . . . please. I’ll meet you at coffee. The new motto of the aging group. “The 6AM Runners . . . where running is optional and coffee is mandatory.” This of course replaces the old one for those of us over 50. The old one was: “The 6AM Runners . . . not too slow . . . not to fast. Half fast!” Say it fast and let me know when you get it. So these days I am a half fast runner dedicated to coffee or tea in my case.
I really do love you guys. but I know what happens to people who get lured into a good “Tigger Tale”. I have seen too many people verbally dragged over the dark streets, trying to keep up with one of his addictive narratives that has little to no sense to it at all. The only one of the group who can tell a better story with no point at all is Gimli and he is on the “half fast” list right now as well.
Could someone else help me to develop our list of protocols?
PS . . . there is a non polite origin to this nickname that has earned me my uncontested place at the back of the pack.
August 16, 2008
Sleepy season was a good one. You get over tired . . . don’t hear the alarm . . . early morning appointment. It’s a bio-rhtyhmic thing. As most of you know, I even tried sleeping with an Iron Man watch hanging out of my mouth so that I wouldn’t miss the alarm. (Absolutely true! Ask the Tin Man or Tigger) They questioned me on it, over coffee, one morning. My response was stupid by any standard. “Oh, don’t try to tell me that you guys have never done that!” Needless to say, this was a mistake and I have never heard the end of it. But that’s the nature of the group. So now I have the best excuse yet. I had laser surgery and a “cryo” procedure on two retinal tears in my right eye. The doctor tells me that I can’t run for at least a month. So I have been sleeping in . . . coffee only twice this past week. Now I know that my friends are incredibly concerned for my well-being but I also know that sooner or later a runner has to face the music and I have to confess that I am not all that excited about the possibility. I did compile a list . . . top ten good things about not being able to see that well. Let me share it with you:
- No more bad-hair days.
- Justification for a bigger, big-screen TV.
- You get to ignore people that you don’t like. You can walk right past them and never speak.
- You get to ignore the offering plate in church.
- No more ugly people.
- No more beautiful people.
- You get to see things that other people can’t see.
- You get to “not see” things that other people see.
- Easier to resist sexual temptation.
- The Word is a “light” unto my path and a “lamp” unto my feet.
Now I want you to know that I will be back, slower than ever, sometime in September if the good Lord is willing. I miss you guys like crazy.
July 7, 2008
Every now and then I forget that the exercise of running is not the only reason that I get out of bed at 5:00am. Normally an injury will provide an excuse for me to sleep in. “Sleeping in” is not what it once was. Now sleeping in means skipping the run and meeting the troupe at 6:30 am at St. Timothy’s for coffee. And after 28 years of early morning running, I am no longer able to sleep past 7:00 am unless I want a headache to remind me that I should have run.
So what are the “other” benefits?
- Avoiding the typical morning stupor. Adrenaline is a most effective and natural chemical to provide the best perspective on a new day. Regardless of how thick the mental fog may be, it dissipates after about 30 seconds of running. The last vestiges of yesterday’s issues are shaken off and replaced with fresh perspective on the new day and an emerging belief that there are no insurmountable obstacles, . . . no unsolvable problems. This is so far beyond crawling out of bed on a bare-budget time schedule that has you scrambling mindlessly, the highest aspiration to simply get to your workplace on time.
- Laughter, therapy for the soul. We have a capable psychologist in the group who is convinced that there are psychotics among us. I defer to his expertise. However his expertise may not be his greatest gift to us. Mostly it is the suggestion that we are not with normal people. Even the possibility that I may be the least normal. I am reminded, as the fun is poked, that I will enjoy the day so much more if I begin by resisting the temptation to take “me” quite so seriously. Maybe, I can afford to take my job, regardless of what it is, a little less to heart. And maybe I can do all of this and actually be a more productive human being. Perhaps, if I see the humor in me that my closest friends see, I can engage in less conflict with others. Maybe I can admit my mistakes rather than defensively denying them. And possibly, if I can become a more authentic person, there may be others who will do the same. All this without a single sermon? I remember asking myself how many people in our harried society begin each day with numbers of “belly-laughs”. I believe that I am among the very few.
- Good company. Few of us would admit it readily to the others. I suspect however, that I am among some of the greatest men in the world. They are faithfully at their stations, changing their worlds incrementally. Most days they are unaware of this. My personal belief is that God is most able to use us when we are less self-conscious. “The more I think of God – the less I think of me and the more I think of me – the less I think of God.” When I begin to think of life-changing moments and lessons that have shaped me, I remember that they have come in unexpected times and places, from unexpected sources. I begin my day with good men and they are Divinely and unconsciously empowered to help me frame my world. The importance of good company cannot be overestimated.
- The “metastasis” of discipline. One of the positive shades of meaning of an otherwise nasty word is “a spiritual change, such as in baptism”. When I began to run my body was the master of my mind. My body told me when to get up. My body told me to quit when it hurt. The discipline of running has been the coup of mind over body. As I learned to push myself to my limits and beyond, I learned that I could do this in all areas of my life. This was discipline metastasizing through my life. Running now requires no more discipline from me than taking a walk. But the life lesson that has come through it, has seen me through times and circumstances that have spelled the end for others of my peers.
- Just one more. Alignment. I believe that the value of all these things comes from natural principles that are as much a part of creation as gravity or photosynthesis. And they are not by “chance” but clearly by “design”. They spring from the heart and nature of the Creator, the giver of all good gifts. They are innately resident, but often dormant, until the “spiritual” being within us is regenerated or made alive. Running for me has become a spiritual experience, a connecting point . . . really. I have formulated sermons, prayed prayers, sought forgiveness, discovered humility, comforted friends or been comforted myself. I have seen sunrises that many miss. I have seen tiny mice turn to fight cats. I have seen deer and moose in the city core. I have stopped to talk to people who have been starved to find someone who cares. I have had the definite sense that God had reasons greater than my own for being out early in the morning. So yes, it is a spiritual experience.
Now if you ask most any of my friends about what I have just said, they will disavow any knowledge of me as a 6AM Runner.