Rocky Raccoon 50k

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." -Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson identifies herself as a "spiritual teacher," whose books are "must-reads" of the New Spirituality. She and her work appeal to those "seeking a relationship with God that is not strictly tethered to Christianity," according to the Time Magazine. I can't recall from where I first read this quote, but it came to mind while running the Rocky Raccoon 50k this past Saturday. I want to mention the background of the quote because while it resonates, I read and understand it in light of my own spirituality and beliefs, which is Christianity. Lately, I've been examining my own fears. Running has helped me become a better person in ways that I never expect. Many of my fears, like fear of failure and commitment, manifest itself through running. This time, it's the fear of "what if I could?"

Truth be told, the Rocky Raccoon 50K was another of my long training runs. I wasn't prepared to give a race effort. The course consists of two 25k loop at Huntsville State Park, TX. I was in Austin for work earlier the week and I just couldn't pass up the chance to running a race on new trails and a new state! The race started at 7 a.m. Weather was crisp on this November morning. I ran the first loop fairly easy in 2:30 and felt good - other than a pit stop in the woods. At the start of the second loop, I felt good enough to put in a little more effort while still keeping it very comfortable. When I came into the first aid station, one of the volunteers looked at his watch and told me the first female was about four minutes ahead. I knew that since that section was an out-and-back and I saw her on her way out. Not only had I no intention to chase her down, I probably couldn't if I tried. Oddly enough, as I left the aid station and turned a corner, she was right in front of me, stepping out from a porta-john. As for me, my stomach still wasn't well - so it's porta-john now or the woods again later. I chose porta-john. After finishing my "business" and started running, I was right behind her again! This time, I found her walking. I slowed to see whether she was doing okay. She looked puzzle for a second, and then showed me the scratches on her legs. She had a spill and was walking it out. Seeing she's alright, I started running again, left her with "I"ll see you soon," and fully expected her to catch up.

One thing I like about races is having aid stations that mentally break up the distance for me. Instead of "I still have 20 miles to go," my mind thinks "5 miles to the next aid." That helps a ton. After that first aid station, the next one would be in four miles, then another in five miles, then the finish! The sandy/gravel double-tracks freed me from devoting all my attention at my feet, let my mind wander, be quiet, and pray. As 15-miles-left became 12, then eight, then five, my head came back to what's at hand. She still had not caught up with me yet. Part of me almost hoped she had by now, so I could stop wondering. Then it hit me. I was afraid that I could...win? It seemed to be within reach. Should I pick it up and actually try to hold onto the lead? That seemed to be the logical thing to do. But...it wouldn't be comfortable. It was then I realized my fear wasn't inadequacy. My fear was being uncomfortable and being vulnerable in the process of becoming more.

"...for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7

Apostle Paul wasn't talking about winning a race, nor was implying that we should not fear anything. Rather, he was instructing believers to be bold in sharing the Good News, even if that meant suffering like he was, in prison. God called each of us to be light, to be better people, and to be more Christ-like, even if that means being uncomfortable and vulnerable in doing so. What if we are so much more than what we limit ourselves? What if we are "powerful beyond measure" because of how God has made us and is continuously molding us? With that thought, I couldn't shy away from at least trying, even if that meant a little out of breath and risking failure.

p.s.I did hold onto my lead and finished the second loop in 2:23.

Image belongs to Your Sporting Image by Karen Thibodeaux

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