October 5, 2015

And What Did We Learn?

Yesterday, I ran my first 5K race.  Ever.

No, please.  Hold your applause.  It wasn't pretty.

This wasn't some quest which I had long-dreamed to accomplish.  This was my husband's bright idea of "togetherness" for our family.  You know, an activity in which the whole family can participate!

Yay!  Right!?


My husband and eldest son regularly run 5K races, either for fun on Friday nights with a local running group or on the weekends in support of a good cause.  This weekend, he said cheerfully, let's all run the 5K -- you, me, the kids, everyone!  Yippeeeee!


You see, what my husband apparently didn't understand is that, while running our household, I normally run rings around anyone and easily qualify as Wonder Woman.  We're like the 1980 US Hockey Team on rocket boosters and I am the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) of the airspace.  (I struggle not to laugh in the face of people who actually wonder aloud how on earth homeschoolers get "socialization."  Have you seen our family's calendar!?)

As an individual, however, I'm rather a dull, average, ordinary person.  Really.

If you want an Executive Vice President of Domestic Management and Organization, then make an appointment with me.

If you want an expert on health and fitness and how to become Superman, then call my husband.  He is a Spartan warrior.  I am Gunga Din.

And I'm perfectly happy to be Gunga Din, water girl and "crew" for these 5K races, juggling H2O, race equipment, and temper tantrums for the physically hot and overwrought.

But, yesterday, it was not to be.

Yesterday, for the first (and hopefully last) time, I pinned on a bib (I know -- not that kind of bib; it was a number!), crouched into a starting position worthy FloJo, and when the starter yelled, "GO!" I took off, buoyed along on a joyous tide of runners, all smiling and anticipating the thrill and exhilaration they'd feel when they returned to cross the finish line.

The winner finished her race in a blistering 18 minutes, 45 seconds.

Wanna know what happened when I finished the race?

Dead last?

Well, let's just say that I was so far behind that my husband and eldest son actually went back out to find me.  When we approached the finish line, the crowd of race runners already were bunched in a group there.  With their backs to me.  As they posed for a post-race photo.


Now, I should mention at this point that I ran the race (...okay, walked most of it...) not entirely alone.  Remember how this was supposed to be for the whole family?  Well, of our six children, I had our four year old with me.  He had taken off like an arrow, but had pooped out early and now was riding somnolent in his stroller, which I (thank God!) had thought to bring along literally at the last minute.

And do you know what that lil' stinker did?

Just before we rounded the last turn approaching the finish line, realizing where he was, he sprang up and frantically clambered out of the stroller, so he could RUN up the last stretch of the race to receive the adulation and cheers of his adoring fans.

(Picture the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps and cue the "Rocky" music.)


You know.  Learning experiences usually are either painful or expensive.  At least this one was cheap.

What did I learn?

CARPE DIEM - For one thing, I learned that my four-year-old is a whole lot smarter than I am.  Fully aware we had been riding drag the entire race, he nevertheless squeezed what exhilaration he could from it by crossing the finish line running hard with a dazzling grin.  Seize the moment!  Seize the day!  Would that we all would so easily cast off our self-consciousness and rejoice in what we can do in such grand, happy, infectious style!

LOVE IS A CHOICE - My husband is a prince.  Hands down, he's finders keepers.  He turned his white horse around and rode back out to find and rescue me, giving me generous kudos and pointers as I grumbled along while we finished my race together.  Love is a choice.  Marriage is a partnership.  And my Leonidas staunchly was not leaving without me.  Awesome!
YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE TO WATER.... - But, running still is just not my thing.  Really.  Like, so not.  I knew it before.  I know it even more now.  I have great respect for those for whom running is invigorating and inspiring.  And if there had been a horse for me to lead to water and run in this race, then I'd be writing a different story.  But, we all have our roles.  Know thyself.  I am a groundling and I know I don't like running.  At all.  I took one for the Team.  Now, could I please just have my water bucket back?  Now?  Please?

HUMILITY - There is nothing more humbling than being last.  It somehow resurrected all the miserable feelings of playground team selections in my youth (Last.  Again. *sigh*).  Every other person out there yesterday ran harder, faster, stronger than I did -- even all my kids!  (Two of them took off like greased lightning and never looked back!  Woo-hoo!)  But, I finished so poorly it was assumed no one could possibly still be out there straggling along.  I'll never forget that mental image of a crowd of people at the finish line with their backs unwittingly turned toward me.  It's a useful image.  It's good for the soul to be vividly reminded once in a while that everyone else's life does not, in fact, revolve around yours.

God calls us to know, love, and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him forever in the next.

If nothing else this weekend, I learned that it's helpful to know thyself, to love (for better or for worse) those whom God has placed in our lives, and to serve others, especially past the point of personal sacrifice.

"Give until it hurts," Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said.

Boy, she wasn't kidding.  Now, somebody please hand me the ibuprofen.

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