Ecclesiastes and I usually head out for a run at 5:45 am, before the sun has a chance to team up with the already existing humidity. It took a while to get used to it, but I've learned to love running before dawn because there are so few travelers out at that time. We jaywalk/run whenever the urge hits, I don't have to put on sunscreen, which makes it harder for sweat to evaporate and cool off the body, and Ecclesi gets to see all the rabbits busily running about, giving him lots of free entertainment along the way. Most of all the quiet pre-dawn hours seem to magnify the presence of God, making it a great time for prayer.
Training in the heat and humidity is terribly challenging, especially for this new and rather mature runner. The days of running a compete course without stopping to walk, rest, and take a sip of water are a distant memory as the dog-days of summer faithfully oppress each day. I remember when the first heat wave of the summer arrived I thought something was wrong with me as my stamina suddenly evaporated away, making a once easy route painful and daunting. I began monitoring my heart rate and discovered the heat and humidity was more taxing on the body than I had imagined.
I continue to run outside in order to adapt to the climate, so Ecclesi and I set out this morning for a long 4.5 mile run. Thinking it would be a luxury to sleep late for just one day, we left an hour later at 6:45am. The sun was coming up and the humidity was as thick and oppressive as usual. It was 80 degrees and we did fine 2 miles out, then the heat began to takes its toll. Ecclesi began to slow and before I knew it all I could do was walk at a snail's pace with a hand on my hip. I wasn't short of breath and my heart rate was decent, but I was so dog-on tired. I'd drink ice water and pour it down my neck, but neither would refresh. Then, I began to get goosebumps, something I instinctively knew wasn't a good sign.
Walking longer than usual, Ecclesi was working hard at prompting me to run. He was just as tired but must have figured running would get him home to the pool sooner. The same logic was in my head but my body would not cooperate. I was glad I had my cell phone with me and wondered more than once if I'd have to call Jimmy. "Dear can you come get us? I'm laying on a grassy strip behind the hospital just off the highway near McDonalds. You can't miss us we're by the doggy poop trash can. It's awfully hot can you hurry?" Part of me cautiously hoped Ecclesi would begin limping temporarily so I could call for an escape, but he seemed to be getting a second wind. Mustering up the will to carry on, I walked, ran, trotted, and gimped the way home in fairly good time, but it was no fun. No fun at all.
The more I run the more I see how it mirrors life. Sometimes we feel as though we can run a marathon, while other times there are so many factors against us we can barely limp along. The key to surviving and even thriving in both is perseverance, that tenacious will that refused to give up. We may fall or fail but quitting is never be an option. It isn't a sin to walk, rest, or take a sip of water along the way and it doesn't ruin the race, it merely gives you what you need to carry on. Some races will be better than others but each serves as a building block for the next, which is where we find our hope for the future. A bad day is bad but soon will pass. In its place will be a new one, better than the last.
If you are tired on your journey, take a rest. Call for help if you need it and lay down in the grass along side the road if you must. Look up into the sky and remember God is with you. He loves you and you are never out of His reach. Pray to Him like never before and keep your eyes on Him for He will see you through. Most of all dear friend, never ever, ever, ever give up. To give up is to give in to the enemy. But to persevere is to bring joy to the heart of God!
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
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