Lessons learned, one step at a time

Published 1:50 am Saturday, September 28, 2013

I keep texting my friend Cindy, who happens also to be my priest, “It’s your fault.”

I usually send this message because I am very hot and have just pushed myself to run a little bit farther than the previous day or previous week, for the questionable pleasure of marking that task off the training list.

In turn, when she finds herself in similar straights, she says it is the fault of her dauther, Elizabeth.

You might think it unkind to say such things to a minister. It is not. It was Cindy who convinced me that I should sign up for a half marathon. For the non-runners, that’s 13.1 miles. For the marathoners among us, that’s easy.

John Twitty does full marathons often. Stephanie and Perry Dillard are headed to the Chicago marathon next weekend. Cindy has previously done two fulls. Tom Albritton is a veteran.

Me? I love 5Ks.

But for some reason – like not having counted backward to determine that a 12-week program for a November race starts when it is extremely H.O.T. – I agreed. It is, after all, difficult to say “no” to a minister.

I practiced saying out loud, “I’m thinking about it.” I waited until I was well into the training before I actually registered. I purposefully did not write about it, just in case I chickened out.

But by early afternoon today, we’ll be half-way there: Half-way through an official 12-week training program; and a little more than half-way to the eventual distance goal.

Just like in most things in life, the biggest obstacles are in my head. If I spent much time thinking about running seven miles today, I could easily succumb to “That’s impossible.” But if I just get up and get started, if I just turn off the “I can’t do this,” it’s really not that hard.

It helps, I realized in a nighttime Glow Run at Straughn back in August, if you can see where you’re going. Again, just like life, right? And in life, just because where I think we’re going is in my head, doesn’t mean anyone can read my mind. Lesson learned: Chart the course for those with whom you run the race.

Another one affirmed: If you stumble, pull yourself back up. I took a most-unladylike tumble on a slick sidewalk half-way through a four-plus mile trek earlier this week. Once I determined I was OK, I was still two miles from my vehicle, so the only thing to do was, like Forrest Gump said, “Just keep on running.”

Finally, when all else fails, there’s a prayer my training partner the priest likes to quote.

“If you keep picking them up Lord, I’ll keep putting them down.”

One foot in front of the other, one step at a time, picking them up and putting them down.

It works. Just like life.