Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Dream

Everyone has a certain place that brings back the fondest of memories. Perhaps it was a lake, a playground, a bench. All of these places gave you a sense of warmth, a sense that everything was right in the world, or even that magic could happen.

As runners, I think we all have a special place (or even a few) to us that we cherish dearly. For me, that place was Norbuck Park in Dallas. A park filled with memories of trails, tears, and triumph. I can still hear the sound of the gun go off during my middle school years of cross-country. I still remember the old dusty 2-mile course like it was yesterday. The first big turn, the "massive hill" that used to haunt me, the wooded portion of the course, and the extraordinary finish through the tree tunnel.

Beautiful Norbuck Park… photo credited to bigredwill

Often when I am back in Dallas, I'll go run the course just for old-times sake. It was here that my love for running arguably began. Youngsters learned how to compete, how to fight off pain, and how to finish well.

My favourite part of the 2-mile dirt course was the last 300 meters. You would go up a massive hill, come flying down, then wind through a tree tunnel that would lead you to a 300 meter finish. This last section was always special to me. I remember dying in a race, coming down the tree tunnel, and then planting my foot on a root, which signified the final stretch. When I launched from the root, it was time to set ablaze and hammer towards the finish line.

During this moment, the final kick, life seemed to stop. The people around me cheering seemed to disappear, all I could hear was my beating heart ticking and runners next to me breathing deeply as we poured our souls into the finish line with nothing left. I'm thankful for these times that taught me truly how to compete and dig deep!

Lately, running has been quite rough. Injuries keep plaguing me in 2015, so I have spent a lot of time cross-training and Alter-G'ing. Being away from the team is the hardest part. You just want to get back…and soon. I would give anything to be crushing workouts with the guys!
Not everyday is a bad day… having a little fun on the Alter G!

Anyone with an injury understands that there is a sense of longing, sometimes, even sadness. I've gone through major bouts of depression being injured constantly throughout my career.

Deep water running alone often feels like I am stuck in a prison with nowhere to go. 60 minutes can feel like eternity. I can relate to how Paul felt while he was in prison, yet Paul calls us to run the race well (1st Cor 9:24). While I'm in the pool, I like to imagine the story of Paul and Silas singing in prison, how crazy would that of looked like!

But it hasn't been all doom and gloom while I've been injured. The Lord continues to teach me incredible things, and I am thankful for that every single day. God is good, even when I am injured and don't understand. Frankly, I may never understand. But I can glorify God with an injury, that's why I sing, just like Paul and Silas did!

Recently, I've been having a reoccurring dream, back at Norbuck Park. I am racing the old dusty 2-mile course, only this time, in a Baylor jersey by myself. Everything is just like before, each turn I take brings back nostalgia and it is magical. A mile and a half in, however, I begin to feel the pain of racing take its toll. As I feel the pain and my body screams for mercy, I then make the narrow turn approaching the tree tunnel. I launch off the root towards the finish line and begin crafting my final move.

As I shift into my final gear, something incredible happens. The sun comes shining in through the tree tunnel and Jesus is right next to me, encouraging me and saying, "You can do it, trust me, I am with you!"

When I cross the finish line, Jesus embraces me and tells me that He has been with me, every step of the race.

My life verse, Isaiah 41:10, is a testimony to that promise which says,

"So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." 

Even though I am injured, I trust in the Lord and know that He is with me, every single step of the way, just like my dream at Norbuck Park!

...Maybe we will get to race in heaven with healthy and new bodies!