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Finish Well

I ran another 5k last weekend. It wasn’t very fun…at least not the running part. It was hot and already 100% humidity at 8 a.m. One of my good friends was running also. Alanna’s a different class of runner than I am. She loves the long stuff…8-10 mile training runs are nothing for her. She’s a beautiful and godly woman who I have known for over 10 years. When we first met, Alanna was very shy and quiet. She was hesitant to share her opinion, but very willing to help in any way. She’s a great wife and mother and in recent years, has grown into leadership abilities I would guess she never thought she had.

On Saturday I noticed her confidence. She has found her place and she walks in it with assurance. She has grown and matured and, though she’s still quiet, she isn’t afraid to speak up and share her advice and encouragement.

We had a nice time getting reacquainted prior to the start of the race but I knew once the race began, I would be eating her dust. And I was totally ok with that!

The race began and I took off at my normal pace…slow. The weather conditions were ugly. I’ll take running in rain or snow over heat and humidity any day. The route was well marked but I knew I was in trouble when I had to stop and walk at the first mile mark. Though I’m not fast, I can usually run the whole 3.2 mile distance. But by mile two, I was struggling to run more than a half mile at a time. I knew my time was shot but I was moving forward and making little goals along the way.

I always have my run app going through my phone so every half-mile I’d hear the app’s voice tell me how far I’ve gone, how long it’s taking me and my pace. It helps me realize how far I have left to go. At mile three I knew I only had two-tenths of a mile and I was determined to gut it out. There was a turn in the course ahead of me so I assumed the finish line was just around the corner. Then I saw my friend Alanna coming toward me. She met me saying, “I’m going to run you in.” It was then I realized I had further to go than I thought. As we turned the corner I saw more than a quarter mile left to go.

I can’t describe how discouraged I became at that moment. Physically I really didn’t think I could do it. I knew I could walk it in, but Alanna was running alongside me and, to be honest, I didn’t want to disappoint her. I wanted to finish well…or as well as I could. I felt sick, my legs were rubber, I was panting, almost gasping, and sweat was dripping in my eyes. I was literally “a hot mess.” But I prayed “God, just get me home,” and with Alanna’s verbal encouragement and physical presence, I dug a little deeper and ran across the finish line.

My time was awful – but that wasn’t the important lesson. Here are my takeaways:

  • Train hard. It’s the everyday journey through life that prepares you for those sudden races that occasionally pop up.
  • Run your own race. It doesn’t matter where you are in comparison to other runners. You are the best “you” there can ever be. Be good with it.
  • Don’t believe the voice in your head. Keep your eyes and ears on the truth. My app was “off” on the distance of the 5k and I had put my whole mindset on its veracity. When I realized I had more to go, I was so discouraged. Run using the sign posts along the way – the Word of God is your sign post. Let it be your training manual for your own race.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, when you are confident and secure in your race, go back and encourage someone else along the way. Alanna’s voice and presence brought me in. Without her, I probably would have dropped back to a walk which was a failure in my mind. Be the coach, cheerleader, mentor, leader – whatever term you prefer – to bring others along toward their finish line.

The times we live in are getting hotter, tougher, harder…We need each other so we can all finish well.

By the way, I got first place in my age division…I was the only one in it! One more life lesson: There are no other runners in your race. As long as you show up and finish, YOU WIN!

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Staying healthy and fit is a lot easier than it used to be. When I was younger the options for where to run for exercise were running on the road and…ok, that was it…running on the road. Nowadays there are all types of trails – paved, crushed rock, wood chips – in varying widths and lengths – plus treadmills with all sorts of bells and whistles. You can basically hook yourself up and get a full medical breakdown while you listen to tunes or watch an episode of Dr. Phil. They even have treadmills at our local public library so I can read and walk without getting hit by a car or tripping off the curb. Yes – I’ve done that. No – not read and walk…just trip off the curb.

But now I’m the clueless owner of a smartphone and I have the power of genius literally at my fingertips. Want to train for a 5K? There’s an app for that! Want to find out how many steps you’ve taken in a day or get a reminder to drink more water? There’s an app for that too!  I even have an app for daily workout routines with videos and countdowns so I can follow along. I love this techie stuff!

There are few great apps for getting spiritually fit too. I just downloaded a prayer app to help me remember to pray for specific requests or post my own request for others to pray.  I know my busy life needs reminders now and again.

Now I can watch church services on my phone, Kindle or computer any time, day or night. There’s an app for that! It’s called Sermon.net and it allows a listener, free of charge, to access an archive of sermons, teachings and live broadcasts.

There are even apps for motivation and encouragement.

But, my very favorite app allows me to read the Word, in just about any version, right from my phone. YouVersion is a free Bible app that I have downloaded to my phone and my Kindle. There are no ads (which is unusual for free apps) and has tons of features like Bible reading plans, devotionals, and even suggestions for sermon topics. You can highlight verses and then virtually share with your friends, via Twitter, Facebook or email. You can create notes or bookmark a passage for later study. You can read it or have it read to you. KJV, NIV, NASB plus hundreds of other versions…in English, French, Spanish or Abau, Batak Karo, Chorti, or Gofa. (In case you’re wondering, those are 4 of the hundreds of languages available).

Commercial over. BTW – all the apps I’ve mentioned are free and available through the iTunes app store. Okay – commercial is really over now.

Closing thought: we have no more excuses. No more reasons to say we can’t pray, can’t read the Bible, can’t get healthy. The tools are available – we just have to pick one up and use it.

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