So, apparently, I have a pride problem. I know this, not because I’m so enlightened that I’ve recognized it in myself and am diligently trying to improve, but because God keeps putting me in thoroughly humbling situations. It seems He’s trying to break my pride.
Now, let me just say upfront that I have absolutely NO pride in my running ability. Quite the opposite, actually. I’m the first to tell you that what I do makes real runners wince. But, somewhere, deep, deep inside there must have been a smidgen of something that resembled pride, because the last two week’s long “runs” were enough to slap any thought of arrogance right out of me. And, I happen to know that God uses these things to teach us, so I guess there was some unresolved pride in me somewhere. Let me just assure you, it is now gone.
Last weekend, Gary & I traveled to Camp Claiborne in Pineville, LA, for a motorcycle race. Yes, my husband races motorcycles. That’s a blog for another day. Anyway, one of the many reasons I love to go with him (other than the steak he grills on Saturday nights) is that I get to do one of my favorite things: a trail run. I ran this trail last year, and it is really beautiful. Peaceful, serene, really makes my creative juices flow. So, after some direction by Gary, I set out. The mile that would take me ten minutes on the road (on a good day) became a heart-pumping, sweat dripping, pulse pounding, ankle twisting fourteen minutes on the trail. And, that doesn’t include the times I stopped to catch my breath. But, all was well. I didn’t get lost and it was a mercifully short long run that week, so soon enough I was back at camp, sipping my coffee and reading my Bible.
This weekend, we traveled to north Alabama, just outside Gardendale (above Birmingham). I really looked forward to this week’s run. I ran it last year and it is breathtakingly beautiful at the ranch where we camp. My training schedule called for a seven miler this week, so I was prepped and ready to go. Saturday morning dawns bright and beautiful, I eat my banana, slap on my shoes and my Garmin, and head out. I typically run the trails they have laid out for the motorcycle race (which is the following day) so that I don’t get lost. Headed to the trail and right away, had a downhill course. Now, if you’ve ever been to the north Alabama foothills, you’ll know what I mean when I say they are truly kick-butt hills. I stumbled down the first hill to a relatively level and root free trail for about two minutes, then it was up and up and up. Oh, my. My run quickly became a walk, then it dissolved into a barely discernible stumble. By mile 3, my back, which has been bothering me off and on for a couple of weeks, was in full revolt and had told my right leg to give me as much trouble as possible. I stumbled on for another couple of miles and then found my way back to the camper, where coffee and rest were waiting. Completely humbling.
I’ve been a runner long enough to know that setbacks occur. But, I’ll be honest, when I have two long runs in a row that are that completely demoralizing, it does make me doubt. Can I really do this? Can I expect these old bones to train and complete a marathon? If you know me at all, you know that I’ll find a way. But, it’s weeks like these last two that remind me that it’s not me at all. I can do nothing without the grace and mercy of God. I can do everything through Him.
So, I’m working on my pride problem. I really, really think it’s resolved. At least where my running is concerned. Maybe He’s working on other areas, as well. Whew!! I wish there was an easier way. I truly wish He didn’t have to pound every lesson into my head with a north Alabama foothill.