I could regale you with dozens of stories from the last 9 months of training for my first ever marathon. There has been humor and pain, success and failure, rain, sleet, snow, heat, and humidity. I have studied about things like VO2 max, fartlek’s, intervals, LSD (that’s long, slow, distance), metabolic efficiency (yes, I’m a geek), heart rate training zones, diet, nutrition, and so much more. I’ve shared conversations with Boston marathoners, ultra-marathoners, beginning runners, friends, supporters, naysayers, coaches, and chiropractors. I’ve spent miles running and praying and thinking and more miles running and not thinking and just, well, running.
Last night, during marathon training mile 926, I had a brief conversation that really captured my heart. I was running along the Cherry Creek Trail and more focused on getting the training run finished and beating the rain than anything else. A man was running towards me. I had seen him on the trail before. Much like me, he doesn’t have a runner’s body. I like to call us sturdy! As he approached, I could see a serious look of determination on his face. His breathing was labored and sweat was dripping down his cheek. We shared only a quick wave as we passed each other. A few minutes later, I got to my turn around point and headed for home. The man that I had seen earlier had slowed his run to a walk. I came up beside him and matched his pace. He removed his headphones as I got his attention. As I have done many times before during short running conversations and encounters, I asked him what he was training for. His answer caught me off guard. Matter of factly he said, “I am training to not have a heart attack.” He was not training for a race, or a charity run, or for fun, or for bucket list bragging rights. This man was running for his life! I don’t know where the words came from and I hope he knows that I was sincere when I said, “that is the greatest reason and answer I have ever heard to that question. I wish you great success! Enjoy the rest of your run.” And with that, I gave him a high five and continued home.
This man captured my heart. He had a real reason for running. A runner’s heart so to speak. As I finished my run and for the rest of the evening, I reflected on my own real reasons for running the Colfax Marathon this week. Yes, I have dropped a few pounds. Yes, the endorphins help keep my attitude in check. Yes, I will check this activity off my bucket list. But mostly, I am running this event on May 17 to raise money and awareness for my favorite charity, QuietWaters.
As many of you know, I have the privilege of serving as the Executive Officer for QuietWaters Ministries. We are a non-denominational ministry that provides resources to pastors and missionaries. Our mission is to renew, restore, and strengthen Christian leaders and their families. We have dozens of pastors and missionaries who visit our retreat center in Parker, Colorado each year. Some come for sabbatical, and some for rest, relaxation, and leadership training. Many who visit are in crisis. They come to start the process of healing from trauma or difficult life circumstances. Janet Moya, a pastor’s wife, tells us that this ministry “played a vital role in our lives…it was a matter of life or death…this ministry became my safe haven.” You can watch an excerpt from Janet’s heart tugging presentation in this video-
Janet’s words tell a much better story than I could every write.