(With my fifth Mini-Marathon coming soon, I’m reposting this piece from September 30, 2010.)
The alarm goes off too soon most days and I kill it with a blind swipe of my arm. 4:45am. 4:30am. Sometimes earlier. My feet hit the floor in the pitch black.
Time to go.
In the pre-dawn silence of my still-sleeping home, I’m a wraith with a routine. Two pairs of socks. Shorts. Shirt. Road-stained shoes. A few swigs of juice. Stretch. iPod. Then into the dark.
The first mile is usually smooth. Hopeful. My heart wakes up. Lungs soon follow. My moonlit shadow keeps me honest. Shoulders back. Run tall.
The iPod shuffles through decades-old songs that only I seem to know.
They help me remember.
Breathe. Move. One more mile. On most days, at least 6. On Saturdays, a dozen or more.
Up to almost 30 miles a week now. More than some, less than others.
I run because it’s hard for me. Knees, ankles, and feet file regular protests. Running hurts sometimes. But what I’d run to instead would hurt much more.
I run because it humbles me. The Mini-Marathon in the spring, and my first full marathon this fall, all have finish lines that fight back. To cross them, I have to want them bad enough and long enough to chase them down.
They dare me to quit. I dare to think otherwise.
It’s not about speed anymore. I’ve too much of it in my world already. I don’t need to crave more of it here.
There are no followers here. No tweets, friend counts, likes, comments, or any other virtual details that conspire to define my life.
My pride and insecurity die for a few miles and the only thing left is the next step forward.
And each of them lead me back home. In which sleeps a wife that I don’t deserve. Two little girls that Britney and boys and Gaga will steal if I’m not careful. Strong. Disciplined. Focused.
My ministry, my mission field, my responsibility, my world is under that roof.
I run because it gives them footsteps to follow and a safe place they can always run to.
I run because life will come too soon for them – and for me – and a blind swipe at it just won’t do.
And that, some days, success starts with the simple act of moving slowly and silently through the dark to find the light.
Time to go.