On Monday, the cross country team at the school where I teach had 8 miles on its schedule. Starting at 7 am in 100% humidity, I only managed to get through 6.
For Tuesday's run I finally managed to get back out with my regular Tuesday-Thursday group. This was the first time I ran with them since before last month's vacation. It was good to get back out with them, but the hilly route took its toll. After the first 4 miles I fell well behind the group. I managed to make it through the 6 miles, but finished dead last by a long way.
Wednesday was speed work day with the cross country team. I can't recall exactly what the workout routine was, but it should have been a total of about 6 miles. We did a two mile warm up, then I did a one mile tempo run and was finished. I don't remember what the others did after that, but it was all I had. So only 3 miles on Wednesday.
Thursday's run was back with the group for our golf course run. We did 6 miles (only about 2.5 of it on the golf course, but that's still what I call it) and, once again, it was tough. Heat and humidity are still wearing me down.
On Friday the cross country team rode the bus to the Greystone neighborhood in Cabot, the town where we live. It's about a 15 mile bus ride from the school where I teach, but Greystone is a nice, large neighborhood with two golf courses and lots of hills. I didn't know the route the coach planned to run so I waited until they arrived to put out water for the kids (and me!). We did an out and back route, so I drove the 2.5 miles and left water at the turnaround. By the time I got back, the fastest kids were probably a mile into the run and it was already nearing 8 o'clock. I parked the Blazer and stepped off. I finished the 5 mile run, once again well behind all the others.
We started at 5 am on Saturday and I did two 5 mile loops. We had a pretty large group for such an early run. The 10 miles took longer than usual, but turned out quite enjoyable. On the second loop, a friend was struggling and I dropped back to stay with her. We ended up finishing the final 5 miles with a walk/run routine that gave us the opportunity for quite a conversation. I think God knew I needed to slow down and gave me the opportunity to assist a running friend and get to know her a little better at the same time. It was a great way to finish off the week.
The Good Lord also blessed me with opportunities to get in 34 miles of riding this week. I'm not a big biker and I don't have any fancy equipment to get serious about it, but my $100 Wal Mart mountain bike does offer the opportunity to get out late in the afternoon for some pretty good workouts. I have no plans of taking up serious biking, so I'm only logging the running miles in the table below.
Training Week: July 16 - July 22
Like I've said many times through the summer, the heat and humidity make running tough. There are lots of days when I step out the door to be greeted by the wall of sultry air and just want to step back inside, crawl back in the bed, and go back to sleep. But I can't.
"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." -- James 1:12God has tasked me with a mission and I must push on, regardless how difficult or unpleasant it seems at times. This oppressive heat and humidity will come every year. It's part of living in the South. Every year the running will get tough, and the same desire to just quit will return. But these annual trials serve to keep me focused, to remind me why it is I'm here and what I'm supposed to be doing.
"...Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." -- 2 Corinthians 12:7Even the apostle Paul, the greatest evangelist of all time, was stricken with an affliction to remind him that all accomplished by his hand was not accomplished by him. We're not told what Paul's thorn actually was, but it's easy to see that it served its purpose.
That's the way I look at the wretched summer running conditions, they're here to remind me that I'm not strong, I'm not fast, and whatever accomplishments I make with my running are gifts from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The heat and humidity remind me that if left to my own strength, my own devices, and my own power, I can't run marathons or even halves.
My good friend said it best before his first ultra, a 100K race that took him 16 hours to complete. Hours before the race he posted on Facebook, "For the record, I can't run 62 miles, and if God doesn't show up, it's going to be a short night."
Even though I'm not running ultras, it's the same. I can't run like this without the blessing and grace from God. I can't cover the miles and I can't endure the heat. It's only the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ that keeps me going. And these tough runs make that much easier to recognize.
"But he [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." -- 2 Corinthians 12:9If it weren't for these tough runs, it would be easy to fall in the trap of patting myself on the back, telling myself what a great job "I'm" doing. It's these times when it's not easy, when the runs hurt, that remind me I can't do it on my own. These runs make me cry out to Jesus for help. Help to get to that next intersection, to that next light pole, to the end of each run.
That's when others see Jesus' light shine through us. In our weakness, they see us cry out to Him, call on Him, and they see Him carry us through the storm.
And that's why I'm glad for the heat and humidity, for the challenges of running in the summer.
"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;" -- Romans 5:3When things are tough out there on the road, the summer's heat and humidity beating down and suffocating you during your run, know that God has your back. Jesus will use our training and racing struggles for His glory and we will be stronger when conditions improve.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.