Thursday, September 3, 2009
When I think about the half-marathon, this is what I see. The weather will be perfect, one of those cool fall days. Temperatures will be in the 60's. There will be a light refreshing breeze, low humidity and just a few clouds--so the sun will be warm, but not oppressively so. The day will be filled with laughter, anticipation and joy.
I'm trying to hang on to that vision. I've been reminded that last year this event took place during a rainstorm of biblical proportions, an after effect of a Gulf Coast hurricane. I'm also recalling my glimpse of this spring's St. Louis Marathon. Again it was raining. And it was cold. At a stoplight I watched weary and in many cases clearly unhappy people pass by and wondered where they found the motivation to continue. My race won't be like that, will it? Surely the sun will come out on September 13. Birds will be singing. Small animals will stop to cheer us on. (Okay, my vision looks a lot like a Disney movie.)
Last Saturday my work at church meant that I didn't take part in the regular long group run. I was surprised and blessed when my pace coach offered to run with me in the afternoon, her second long run of the day. (She ran a total of 18 miles. Amazing!) The course was hilly and the sun much warmer than we expected. I struggled at the beginning of the run and we talked about the ways we can be affected by changes in schedules and when conditions aren't what we anticipate.
My morning had been spent talking about deep change within a congregation. The events of the entire day merged to remind me how difficult change can be. Our patterns, rituals, expectations and hopes can be upset by the slightest difference in our conditions. Even when we are the ones who set a change in motion, the result can be disconcerting.
My prayer for my congregation and for all of us is that we will be able to claim a vision of what the next leg of our "race" will look like. There will be times when conditions arise to make the task seem larger than at all possible. It is then that I pray we will remember our vision and stay on course.
The last half of my run Saturday was easier. At the end I was surprised to learn that my overall pace was faster than normal. My coach was encouraging and the prospect of the half-marathon seemed less daunting when we were finished. Change was hard, but the results were worthwhile.
I'm clinging to that vision of an idyllic autumn race day. But if the storms come, I know the race can still be run.