Run Your Race

By Kersley Fitzgerald

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It's been about a year and a half since I wrote "Running the Race." JT has finished his second cross country season. Because of his flat feet, he's been dealing with pain and not-so-great times, but the team is so small he ran varsity the last few races anyway. He still loves it. He'll even voluntarily take the dog on a short run if he misses practice.

A few weeks ago, a local high school hosted a fun run after the official cross country meet. Turns out it was for an organization that supports adopting families — I'm in! I found myself a couple of yards from the starting line, surrounded by serious adults running for time and nervous teenagers — students from the hosting high school who compete in different sports. Next to me was JT's coach's wife. She asked if I wanted to run with her, and I agreed, but I knew it was unlikely in this crowd.

The shot went off and the crowd took off. Too fast, as the serious runners tried to get ahead and the teenagers' enthusiasm got the better of them. My friend was somewhere ahead of me. The crowd condensed and slowed as we reached a small bridge. And I heard a voice in my head: "Run your race."

My race? Oh, my race. My race was to not go out too fast. Because I am no longer 17 and I no longer warm up for two miles before a three-mile race. My race was to not go so fast my heartbeat got out of hand. My race was to pass all these youngins up the hills (we have a lot of hills in our neighborhood) and sprint down. And keep just fast enough that I didn't throw up.

The other racers had different ideas. The girls liked to run/jog/walk in a line, completely blocking the trail. The football players jogged and walked and continually looked behind them for the rest of their teammates — as if they didn't know how to move out of sync. I especially felt bad for the locals who had come for a workout without realizing their park had been invaded.

I'd heard the term "run your race" before, but this was the first time it drove what I did. The first time I really understood it. I didn't know the course well, but I knew I could take hills, that I shouldn't run too fast, and that the water was only to pour over my head, not drink.

I first joined cross country thirty years ago. I've been running off and on ever since then, and I know my body and what it's capable of.

I've been a Christian for about forty years, and I'm still figuring that out.

Hebrews 12:1 says:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
I know what to do with the "weight" on the trail. I know how to dress for weather, that if it's too cold for shorts, it's too cold for me to want to run. I know to only wear my trail shoes on really soft ground like sand or mud. I even have a good idea of where on my route I'm going to meet up with the creepy guy with the LED light strapped to his baseball cap.

Continue to Page Two

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Published 10-19-16