So this morning, I was trying to figure out if I was going to tell the world my running time for the 35th Annual Cooper River Bridge Run. Its one of the biggest events that we have in South Carolina and it means a great deal to those faithful in coming out and attempting to “get over it”. It’s a 6.2 mile course that includes a 3 mile trek (1.5 mile UPHILL) across the Arthur Ravenell Bridge—one of the biggest bridges in the south eastern region of the United States. Anyway, I awoke this morning thinking about how poorly I did in the run. The first time I ran the bridge run, I had been running for over a year trying to lose weight and get in shape. Back in 2010, I was well prepared to physically challenge myself to complete this race, but this year, I wasn’t conditioned at all. A big part of training is teaching your body what it means to do more. That’s what conditioning is all about. Knowing what it is that your body can handle, understanding what levels and speeds are going to produce certain results, knowing where your breaking point is. Training involves attempting your tasks a couple times over before the main event, so that you can do better on that big day. Well, in my case unfortunately, the second attempt at the bridge run, was far worse than the first.
Two years ago when I ran the CRBR, I completed it in 1:09:00, but yesterday (with a lot more walking, than running being done) I completed the bridge run in 1:25:00. I could say that I was saddened by this time, but really I wasn’t. I went out there do finish in 1 hour, 30 mins. That was my expectation. And I knew this because the 4 times I did get on a treadmill and attempt to run over 1 mile, I was running at a 14 min/mi pace.. and usually since it takes a lot less effort to run on a treadmill than outside in the natural elements, I knew I was going to averagea at least an additional 2 mins/mile on a course outside. (and yes, I’ve had legions of people come to me and say: if you’re training for a race/marathon, event.. the worst place to do it on the treadmill because running on a belt is not the same thing as forcing your body forward on a cemented sidewalk, or along asphalt. It takes more girth to push your body forward when your ouside, so if you’re conditioning, why not start with the proper conditions. Well, that sounds all fine in theory, but I already knew that running outside was def not my best option. I hate any weather lower than 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and I hate any weather higher than 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So since I can’t regulate the temperature to the times that I am comfortable running outside, I’d rather just run indoors.
Its Sunday morning and I’m thinking about church today, work tomorrow, and how busy I am going to be this month. I’m trying to figure if I’m going to get my hair braided; if I’m going to be able to work out each morning or at some point during the afternoons; I’m thinking about writing a book; scheduling some horseback rides in Darlington; and making sure that I’ve done my studying that I said I was going to do. I know that when I get to work my boss, who is all about running, will ask me what my time was. I know that when I say and hour and forty minutes she’ll look at me and laugh insultingly saying “what did you do, walk?”and I’ll have to confess that walking is exactly what took place for most of the race. I laid in bed earlier thinking about what this scenario was going to look like for me and something inside said “Well, if you did it to please her, then you should be disappointed in yourself, but we both know it’s never been or never will be about what man thinks”. And so I sit up and consider my intentions.
I think about my 2012 bucket list and what’s on it. I can say that the half marathon run was initially taken on just because my boss’s husband signed up to do an IRONMAN Triathlon, but does James really matter? At end of the day, he’s a figment. I’ve never met him, I don’t know his stature, his demeanor, nor the curves of his face. If had to characterize my relationship with him, it would be like me knowing a superstar by what the media has displayed. You now, like,I don’t actually know him, I only know what’s been reported. In this case, James would be my Micheal Jordan/ my Beyonce/ my Naomi Campbell, my Lebron/ my Michael Jackson/ my Serena or Venus Williams… James is a tool of motivation. He is an example of passion, fearlessness, courage, triumph to me. And Monica, my boss & James’s wife would be the media. She is the source of all my information regarding my superstar. She acts as my ESPN/my ABCnews/ my CNN/ my Sports Center. Without her coverage of him I wouldn’t know that James existed. I wouldn’t know there was a man that walked the earth that was doing the things he’s done. And it’s not that any of what JAMES is doing really matters, but its important to note that if she didn’t cover JAMES’s highlights, who would she cover? Who/what would I use to inspire me? Why am I watching the “Monica Channel” for inspiration? Why is her station most-important? Again, the spirit is reminding me..Does it matter what Monica reports? Is she going to cover you and your triumphs or failures? What is this really about? What am I going to be about?
So I’m lying here trying to sort out my feelings about all of this and I’m thinking “ Krystal, you’ve been so inspired by what James has done, but you know a man far greater and more glorious than James could ever be”. “You’re considering how Monica would feel about your bridge run time, but haven’t taken into consideration with whether God is please with where you are and what you’re doing?” “You’ve concerned yourself with conditioning your body to run a half marathon, but have been negligent in conditioning your heart and mind to handle the things of God.”
I’m reminded that for the past two weeks, the marquee at this church down the road from where I live has read:
Do you exercise your faith as much as you do your body?
At first when I read it, I was thinking : how cute; they come up with the most wonderful slogans to put on their announcement board outside. But when you really think about it? This should be a resounding alarm! How much more consideration have I taken in making sure my physical body can endure a test or trial, but I could care less about my spiritual fitness. I’ve heard about people doing mental exercise to help stave off Alzheimer’s and memory loss by using mental challenges and puzzles. But again, what about my spirit? How far short do I come when God is doing the testing? What will happen when he meets me at the finish line and tells me what my life’s stop clock will read. When I ran, well walked, the bridge run yesterday I was consistently monitoring myself with my stopwatch, I was noting how far I had gone, How far I had left. I knew the course. I paid attention to who was surrounding me, whether I was on the right side of the bridge for what I was doing. Runners to the left, walkers to the right. I was there, in the moment—gauging my progress. But this morning, when I asked myself if God would be pleased with me and where I was—I immediately said: Yeah, he’d be satisfied. I go to church. I study my Bible (sometimes). I am active in ministries. I am a tither. I minister to others. But even in saying that, my subconscious says to me a split second later: Krystal, you don’t pray as often as you should, you don’t exercise your faith like you could, you haven’t learned to be patient and wait on God, you aren’t leaning not on your own understanding.
So the high that I built about all that I currently do, is being undercut and diminished by the work I know still needs to be done. To stick to the CRBR analogy it’s as if I’ve only slowly crept out of Mount Pleasant, but haven’t yet gotten to the foot of the Cooper River Bridge. Which means my race isn’t even 1/5th of the way finished. I’m still at the beginning of this thing. Yeah, I’m running, but I have yet begun to climb the ‘biggest challenge of lifes’s journey’. I’m still coasting along the highway. This is the easy part. And I know I’m okay where I am, in what I’m doing, because I’ve gotten to the point where I can handle it. I’m comfortable and confident here. But what will I do, when God places another Cooper River Bridge in-front of me? A bridge he’s expecting me to “get over” and endure with flying colors. How will I fare? In what condition will I be able to say my heart is in? Will I have trained to handle the task? Will I know what to expect and how to handle the challenge? How will I look to God compared of all those other spiritual runners out there? He’s always been watching and waiting on me to finish this race. He’s sent spiritual trainers to get me prepared for every obstacle, every bridge, every stretch of flat , curvy, hilly surface that I’ll have to endure, but unless I take this race seriously and get focused on my training. I’ll end up just like I did yesterday. I’ll have completed the race, but will have nothing glorious to report when I’ve crossed that finish line.