February 26, 2017
It’s a rookie mistake to go out too fast in a race. Part of the maturity of racing involves learning to regulate the competitor in you to run your race and not the guy next to you’s race. Some people dominate the hills, others have a killer sprint and pick up time on the flat parts of the course; yet, everyone knows if you go out at a pace you can’t maintain, you risk burnout. Having both the self-knowledge of what’s “too fast” for you and the self-regulation to pace yourself allows an experienced runner to avoid this naive, though common, mistake. Intellectually, it makes complete sense. Yet, when your body is flooded with adrenaline, competitive is practically your middle name, and the guy next to you starts to push the pace, it requires an incredible amount of discipline not to run with the rabbits for the hell of it - because, well that’s fun!
My legs were feeling good when he hopped on the treadmill next to me and cranked up his speed. Now, we all know I love having someone/something to chase so naturally I thought about following his lead. Reluctantly, I turned down the temptation to bolt like a lightening bolt because I felt like I could and instead maintained my pace. I had settled into my run but it wasn’t time to crank it up; rather, I had this growing sense I was running the middle miles.
These miles don’t come with the enthusiasm of something fresh like the beginning of the race nor do they contain the courageous burst of grit found in a strong finish. In fact, it’s easy to think they are seemingly meaningless when compared to the emotionally captivating highs found on the start and finish line. However, I was convinced they were important. I knew by restraining myself momentarily I was setting up a stronger finish. He ran faster than I did and he finished four miles short of where I ended up.
It’s hard enough on a treadmill or race course to run your own race. How often do we compare our middle with someone else’s beginning or end in other arenas of life? How often do we “should” ourselves into thinking we ought to be somewhere else is or doing something different just like so and so is doing? How often do we compare our waiting with another’s fulfillment? Your race is an incredibly personal journey. It is an invitation to know and love the Lord in a way that will never be replicated again.
Trust the author of life will grant you the perseverance to run the race He has invited you to join Him on. He is the Way in the wilderness, writing straight amongst our crooked paths, and accompanying us through it all. Let us run this season of Lent with the wisdom of the middle miles. Trusting it is only on the journey to the grave where we will find the power of the open tomb. Let us dare to find JOY in the Journey
In Notre Dame, Our Mother