“Ya Look Good!” she said in a sweet southern drawl as she smiled quaintly and gave me the princess hand wave. She was clad in a cute summer sundress with hair and make-up done to perfection and she was taking her very small dog out to go potty. She looked like one of those women who has it all together, has one of those super fast metabolisms giving her a great body to go with it, and just naturally gorgeous. I was into my 11th mile when she greeted me and I was looking anything but good. I was completely drenched in sweat, my pace had slowed considerably to an almost 10 minute pace, I was dog tired, and at this point in the game, I was beginning to wonder if I was really crazy to try training for another marathon. To top it off, those 5 pounds I gained in Colorado were really beginning to get to me.
I waved back to her and said thanks as I plodded by. I immediately pondered her remark and began to twist it in my mind. At this point, to me it sounded like she was cheering fat, old me on, with a bit of condescension and sympathy and I had now twisted her words in my mind to the point where it sounded like she was saying, “You can do it sweety!” pumping her fist in the air, “you can get in shape and lose that weight, you’re looking great, You’re going slow, but at least your out there.” Of course, she didn’t say that at all. In my mind, I was getting a bit defensive towards this nice lady whom I had never met. “Let’s see you run 11 miles sweety,” I said to myself. “Let’s see how great you look after running that far in hot Orlando.” Now, from mile 12 to mile 14, I was beginning to get pretty ticked at this lady, my pace slowed a bit more, I was beginning to think I was crazy for running like this, and let’s just face it, I was thinking mean thoughts. I was believing that this nice lady condescendingly cheered me on. Funny how if I let my mind focus on something untrue and negative, my mind can just stay in that “pity party me playground” for awhile.
At mile 14, something got to me, maybe it was God, maybe something else, I’m not sure, but I remember looking at my watch, seeing 14 miles and thinking to myself, maybe that lady was just being really nice!! Now, I’m laughing to myself. Maybe she just wanted to cheer me on. Maybe she runs and knows what it’s like to be out there. Maybe my grouchy, tired self twisted this one glimpse of her into untruth and here I am believing a lie, wallowing in stupidity. Then I thought to myself, maybe I should be more positive about her statement and start to think, hey, at least I am out here. 39 years old and I’m still running long distance. Maybe I am dog tired, maybe I do look like crap and need a sweet nice lady to cheer me on. Maybe if I focused on positive things, I wouldn’t feel so grouchy. And guess what, my pace picked up a bit.
Now, here comes the kicker. As I’m thinking these thoughts, God jumps into my mind and I start to think. Hmmmm, what if I start looking at myself the way God sees me. Then, some great truths start going through my mind. I am a child of God, no one can snatch me out of His hands, God thinks about me, God answers my prayers, nothing can separate me from the love of God, and the best one yet….God has forgiven me of all of my sin, past, present and future because Jesus humbly gave Himself up on the cross for us. Then, I started to think about what that meant….future sins. You see, I know someone who 10 years ago, probably wouldn’t have thought they would have an affair, but guess what, they did. That person, God forgives them of their sin and knew that 10 years or so ago, choices they would make now would lead to terrible consequences. But, God loves them and forgives them. Who knows what I will do in 10 years but God has forgiven me already. Now, I am really deep in thought, because I have sinned so much. I am still dog-tired, because let’s just face it 15 miles is a long way, but I’m lost in thought about what God has done for me and what it means to be His child.
At the end of my run, I think to myself, “Now, this is why I run long distances.” And as I sit here and type this tears come to my eyes because it is so silly. Ya see, today it took me 14 miles to turn my thoughts toward God in my run. Hilarious isn’t it. 14 miles, exhausted, sweaty, burning muscles in my legs, but I’m rejoicing and laughing because even in my stubbornness, God calls me His. It was worth it, every bit of that 15 miles. It did draw me closer to God and helped me to laugh at myself. That is why I run, and that is why I run long distances. So in the end…Thank you nice lady for cheering me on, I hope I see you again.