Sunday, September 4, 2011

"Let it go"

Let's be honest here, I've been feeling a bit down lately... It has been a great year of training and racing. Really, I can't complain much about what I've been able to do in my racing this year. When I look back, its hard not too be thankful for the many good races run and miles logged. For the sake of discussion here's a look back:

  • Les Bois Trail 10k, 40:54, 10th place

  • Dry Creek Trail 1/2 marathon, 1:38, 10th male

  • High Dessert Trail 1/2 Marathon, 1:47, 5th overall

  • City of Trees Trail Series, 2nd place, overall male

  • A Legacy of Service 1/2 Marathon, 1:26:38, 2nd overall

  • Sawtooth Relay, Men's Open Team Division, 1st place

  • Mohican Xterra 19k Trail Race, 6th Overall, 2nd in age group

  • (non race) Wilson Creek Mini-Moab Loop, 15.6 miles and 3000' of elevation gain/loss
So with that look back, one can't help but wonder, "why am I so down lately?" School has started and my training has taken a backseat to doing my job (bummer huh) and hanging with my two little ones and my wife (not a bummer). But even realizing that, there is clearly a deeper issue. I got up this morning and went through my morning run routine of drinking a cup of coffee and puttering around. Debating whether to actually go out and run or just grab another cup of coffee and peruse the craigslist ads again or read the latest race reports, I decided to just go out for an easy 3 miles. At the last second, I grabbed my mp3 player and headlamp (its dark now at 6am, bummer) just in case...

After lacing up my shoes and adjusting the strap on my headlamp (realizing that it's much more comfortable with a hat on) I settled my music choice on Tenth Avenue North and took off. At the end of my road, I had a choice, go up the hill and do my "Lake Loop" backwards for a nice 6 miler, or turn left and go around the block for a boring 3 miles on flat ground dodging cars and subdivision sprinklers. The choice at that point really wasn't a choice at all and I found myself churning up the hill in a gear I hadn't felt in a few weeks. It wasn't long before I realized what was happening; as Tenth Avenue North rang through the darkness and my headlamp flashed, I was bookin' it up the hill.

The thing about the Lake Loop is that in one direction, my normal one, you almost don't notice the hills because they are much more gradual and drawn out with steep downhills coming back. If you run it backwards, it is a much more noticeable hill run and the punchy uphills are met with gradual, almost inconsequential downhills. As I crested the last of the uphills on the loop, I heard a song that told me what was going on:
"You said let it go,
you said let it go,
you said life is waiting for,
the one's who lose control,
you say you would be,
everything we need,
you say if I lose my life it's then I'll find my soul,
you said let it go."

This summer I've been holding on tightly to dreams that are real and valid, but at the expense of other, more important things. For example: you may remember me declaring my goal to finish the Bible this year, well, I can tell you that I've read part of Genesis, and several New Testament books, but most of the Bible remains unread with 4 months to go. If I missed a workout this summer I was a bear to be around and quite often rude. For some people, that may be considered to be "ok," I mean exercise does have a calming effect; however, I cannot let that be my standard because God has made known His standard and that is not it. So I guess the point is that no matter how hard I train, and no matter what races I compete in and place, or even win, I will never be satisfied with life if my only standard is racing.

I think Ryan Hall said it best in his testamony that "Running [or racing in general] had become my god." I know I struggle with this all the time. I simply cannot go anything less that full speed ahead with something, its part of what makes me a good teacher I think, and of course it is part of who I am; but that simply cannot be justification for ignoring my God and putting my family in 2nd place behind myself. As I ran down the last hill on my run this morning, I thought of all the people I hadn't bothered to say "hi" to this summer when I had a chance, all the mornings I came in from a run and wondered what would happen if I ran a couple extra miles, or 10 extra miles, or "if I only had this new bike" or "that new lighting system," "I could really rack up the miles and beef up my training."

One more time I've realized that it's not about what I want or can do, it's through God and my relationship with Him that all things are possible. I cannot rely on my own body, mind, and accomplishment to find fullness in life. Ouch, the truth hurts!

Oh, and my run this morning, the fastest 6 mile tempo run ever on that loop. "Let it go..."

(Check out the following links for a better understanding of what was ringing in my head today...)

Youtube link to song and lyrics for "let it go"

Ryan Hall's testimony

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