One of the first posters I designed in college (before computers) was a spoof on Jim Short’s Book of Running. The poster was similar to the cover of the running book with the same legs in motion drawn in pen and ink with a rainbow of colors behind them simulating running in heaven. The headline read, “You CAN take ’em with you!” As if the shoes were so great that you would keep running forever. They reached new heights in comfort and took you over life’s roughest roads.
After running a 10K for the first time, I reflected about the whole idea of running life’s roughest roads. Our trainer had us build our endurance weeks before by running hills. As in life– we have hills; getting through school, getting your first job, finding a spouse, giving birth. Once we get “over-the-hill,” life kind of coasts. I think you get a second wind once you’re over 50 and life feels like coasting. No more “getting” but giving it away and leaving stuff behind.
During the race, I laughed as I read the signs along the road. “Teresa will you marry me? If YES, keep running! Another said “Run Forest. Run!” In life we see signs that graphically tell us which direction to go like arrows that point us in the way we need to run. They are images like a wedding announcement or pregnancy test with a plus or minus sign or a For Sale sign in front your house. Words and letters communicate thoughts, evoke feelings and emotions, and behavior. Many of the signs encouraged me to keep running just to see what lay ahead, just as when I saw “SOLD” in front of our house, it made me want to see where my life would go.
Most of the road was bumpy with cobblestones and some holes. That’s when I had to look down and make sure I didn’t trip. In training, we were told to look straight ahead and anticipate what was ahead. Sometimes in life you can anticipate a bumpy road like when you hear about cut backs at work and know you better start looking for another job. Other times, you can’t see the hole when you get diagnosed with cancer. That’s when you get lifted up out of the hole with God’s strength. About mile 5, I was weary and wanting to walk then I heard a church group singing “Our God is an awesome God” I jumped up and gave them high fives while they cheered me on. I kept going with enthusiasm looking ahead and singing with them. This gave me a boost to keep running to mile 6.
As I looked ahead, there was a sea of people of all colors of the rainbow running for miles. Metaphorically, we’re all in this race together. We can share the road and lift each other up as we head to the finish. I heard about a teenage girl running the Shamrock Marathon last year with her friend who was quoted “Let’s finish this,” before she ran the last mile then collapsed and died at the finish line. We all finish this race but it’s how you run the journey that matters, with selfless determination, joy and faith.