Will I Ever Learn?

About that Baltimore Running Festival…some folks would like to know how Bob and I did.  Well, he beat me again this year!  We ran together for the first 8 miles, but when my legs tightened up I told him to go on ahead.  He finished ahead of me by about ten minutes, but I did finish. 

I don’t like to get beat – especially by my boss (and good friend)!  So this year’s race pounded home an important truth to me.  Back in the ’80-90’s, I was the track coach at Walkersville High School. Coaching every season for 12 years, I actually logged close to 10,000 miles with my cross country, indoor and outdoor track team runners. 

But my life, schedule and health has changed since those days.  Because I try to stay in generally good shape and do some exercising regularly – with all my experience and knowledge – I figured I could run the whole 13.1 miles this year, without training for the race.   

I didn’t train last year, either. I made it past the 11-mile mark and then my hamstrings got so tight that I alternately walked and jogged in the rest of the way.  I was going to do better this year.  I knew where I had to stop running last year – running is actually a misnomer, at best I did a slow jog – so, this year, I was ready to work through the discomfort, get past that spot and finish the whole race without having to walk at all. I did, and never actually broke into a walk.  Although at one point, on an incline, a guy who WAS walking actually passed me!  I finished with both legs very tight and could not even kick-in the last mile and a half as I had planned. My time was a little better than last year, the difference being the amount I had walked.  

The whole thing was pretty sobering for me. With all my background in the sport, this was all I could muster.  I realized I sounded just like a number of men I have met in recovery.  They have been in lots of programs (including here before) and know all about the effects of drugs and alcohol on the human body.  Many have also experienced some extended clean time in the past. So now, when they decide to get clean again, they can just turn it on and it will just happen. 

But all our past experience and knowledge doesn’t do us that much good today (just ask Washington Redskins fans!). But, when we do the next right thing, day after day, we develop more than just clean time (like my weak jog to the finish). Instead, we do real recovery (finish strong, even put on a kick at the end).  It doesn’t take long around our place to see who is just working on clean time and who is operating on a real recovery track. 

So, next year I need to either train for the race or just not participate.  I think I might stay home and watch it on television! 


Pastor Gary Byers

Spiritual Life Director