"The Damn Marathon" or "Why I will look like a Twin in 40 days."

I recently made a really terrible decision. It's a good terrible decision, but I still face the consequences with trepidation and dread.

That's right, I decided to run the NYC half marathon on April 3.  It happened a few weeks ago when I walked into a staff meeting late, frustrated, of course, after having spent the past hour looking for parking.  I sat down and about two seconds later was told the entire staff (with one hold out) had decided to run/run-walk/walk the half marathon for Haiti Relief on April 3rd.  It took me a few days to agree to do it, but I did eventually agree, "Yes, I will run a half marathon for this good cause."  "Yes, I will do the sport I hate more than almost any other, because it is for a good cause."  "Yes, I will train nearly every day between now and then, meaning I will have to spend time at the gym, a place I hate more than almost any other, because this is all for a good cause."

Of course, by now, only three of the staff are still planning on doing it.  One down-graded to walking the whole thing because of shin splints (Which by the way are undiagnosed by a professional and I still don't necessarily believe yet).  The other probably shouldn't quite "run".  Which means that I am the only one on staff capable of actually doing this as a more than a symbolic gesture (which is what it is for me anyway).  Well, crap.

If you have heard me talk about all of this over that past few weeks, you may have heard me refer to it as "The Dumb Marathon Thing", "The Damn Race", or "Bad Choice Twenty-Ten".  My attitude has been quite unsportsman like, which is probably because I have never been much of a sportsman.  Physical activity for the sake of physical activity is unenjoyable for me.   Throw some nerdy nature or geocaching in there for hiking, or the transpiration benefits of biking and I am a tad more willing to get off my butt, but I just get bored so fast.  Enter the most boring sport there is, running, which I have been known to proclaim does not make any sense unless there is someone or something bigger than you following closely behind with malicious intent.

Ok, so despite the negative tone of all this.  I still stand in agreement, "Yes, I will run a half marathon for this good cause."

And you know why?  Because it's good for me.  I am running to raise money for Haiti, but I also running for a very very selfish reason.  My body needs it.  And this whole I-Hate-Running thing is a mental battle with some serious spiritual implications.  Not even starting into body image issues, I (along with most believing Americans) have been pushing the truth of certain scriptures aside for decades.  I know God knows the treadmill is a very mental battle for me, and through His knowledge of that, it becomes intensely spiritual as well.  I should seek God's grace and mercy in this battle just as all others, sacrificing my will, and asking the Lord to take over.

Here's a few verses I have been muddling on.
(If you don't like reading the bible stuff scroll down to "Here's your part.")

Romans 12:1-2
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

In college (and all the other hormone-charged faith communities I have been in) pastors love to preach on Romans 12:1-2 as a passage about abstinence and celibacy.  That's fine and dandy, but I don't think they go far enough.  Paul doesn't say.  "Don't screw everything that walks, okay?"  He says our bodies are to be living sacrifices.  We are to give up our bodies to God for his use, holy and pleasing, and that is our "spiritual worship".  Paul says, "do not be conformed to this world", which is what I have been allowing to happen in this department for a long time.  Certainly many people fall on the other side of the line; body becomes the God, not the Temple of the God (Holy Spirit), but by and large (no pun intended) fat, pudgy, lazy Americans, i.e. "this world", are not presenting their body's as living sacrifices.
Maybe lazy is the wrong word.  Some westerns are genuinely lazy, living up to the steak dinner, golf, video game, McDonald's stereotypes, but most are just busy.  Even those with the most noble intentions are too busy dealing with important things like social justice, environmental lobbying, and educating underprivileged school children, to deal with basic body maintenance.  It is easy to push aside crunches when otherwise you could be spending the time writing a grant that might feed 100 starving children for a year.  In cases of not-so-obviously-philanthropic jobs, the mental battle is not much easier.  But the Lord genuinely cares about the state of our flesh and what we do with it.  He redeems the whole body, not just our brains.  I know people are going to be pissed to hear it but I firmly believe we are ignoring a huge command of scripture to say "to-hell-with-it",and grabbing McDonald's just because we are running late to church.  Maybe He likes twinkles, I don't know, but I am going to go out on a limb and posit that He might like an apple more.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

This flesh and bone is a gift!  Bought!  And then given back to us to maintain as a dwelling place of the Holy Lord.  Try not to treat it like a ugly sweater from Aunt Maude, stuffed in the back of a closet, brought out once a year when you absolutely have to wear it (read: when you have to run a marathon).  It's a good gift!  A super extravagant, expensive one too.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.

This one is the most difficult for me to read as an average, slightly soft, American woman.  I am God's temple and His Spirit dwells in me (ok, I am with you here.)  If anyone destroys the temple, (my body, from the passage above), God will destroy him.
Shoot.  I am the one destroying my body.  So what follows is that God is probably not too happy with that.  There are a lot of ways a building can go about getting itself condemned.  One could be an earthquake, suddenly unfit for habitation.  Another could be total abandonment, left to the elements.  But most often it is "failure of maintenance" stories we hear that are the most heart breaking.  People being evicted, because someone has let a leak go on in the basement for 15 years.  No one removed the lead paint.  The elevator broke with the door to the shaft open and no one bothered to fix it.  Neglect.  I have been neglecting my body for so many years now, that it is hard to even know where to begin.

So here's where I will begin.  For Lent this year, conveniently lined up with the Half Marathon being the day before Easter on Holy Saturday, I am going to give up complaining about all this exercise stuff.  That means no saying "I don't wanna!" (at least not in a whiney voice).  That means no more referring to it as "The Damn Marathon".  It also probably means that I can't put a picture of Bethany Klein, Ankle-Sprainee and/or a quadriplegic in my gym bag to remind me that there are people who would like to run "The Damn Marathon" but cannot.  Oh, and I am giving up alcohol too, because I tried running after a pint and lunch at the bar, and it just doesn't work.

Here's your part.  Give to Haiti, and give to me being healthier.  Whichever you feel more passionate about, you can give in the same place.

Please consider giving to Haiti through my World Vision fund set up here: http://twv.convio.net/site/TR/TeamWorldVision/General?px=1069501&pg=personal&fr_id=1090
I have set a very modest goal.  Admin costs for the race were $55. The World Vision Team jersey is another $30.  I also had to buy shoes for about $100.  I want to raise at least enough to make up for the money I have spent on this.  Other wise, I probably should have just given $185 to World Vision and been done with it (hence the its-also-for-me mentality).  Please consider donating with one of these amounts in mind.

Whoever gives the most gets to dictate what type and take a jar from the next batch of jam I make.  Or I will crochet you a squirrel or chipmunk pelt.  Your choice.


Also, if you want to give more, and to a more worthy team running the same race, give to these guys.

They are m' boyz, I love them all.

This race was originally set up for funds for Africa, so if you see information saying that all your money is going to Africa, not Haiti, the webmaster just hasn't caught up yet.  I assure you there has been an earthquake in Haiti.

Thanks, I love you all.

I will close with this thank you gift.  A list of the funny things that have gone through my head to keep me from running that I will not be allowed to repeat after Wednesday.

@ 11:53 pm: Kate, I can't run tomorrow at 6:00am.  All I have at home are clogs and pajama pants.

I shouldn't run because right now my silhouette has a nice ripple effect.  It's a graduated change in width from my waist to hips.  If I loose that padding then I will go straight from waist to hips and it will be more obvious how huge my hips really are.

Why would I do something that makes my calves even bigger?  They are the one part of my body that is naturally muscular.  If I do this race then my calves are going to look like Arnold Schwartznegger's in those shorts in Twins.

I will have to snack more.  (Okay, this on can also fall into the "Pro-Marathon" category.)

I must look so disgruntled and unhappy when I am at the gym.  Everyone always asks me questions thinking I am an employee.  No, I don't know where the sauna is.  There's a sauna?

Follow my Twitter for almost daily "Lessons from the Gym".

If you lucky, there also might be one posted right now on the top right of this blog page!


JR said...

Good for you! I applaud you...and if you want someone to run with to help pass the miles, I'll volunteer! :)

jlr said...

Excellant! Thanks for the encouragement!

Anonymous said...

good for you :)

Anonymous said...

one step at a time.

Geoff said...

I know only two things:

1) That there is no way in hell I would agree to run a half-marathon.

2) That when I was a kid we would do a jog-a-thon for a local crisis pregnancy center and every year I managed to walk/jog/run all 7 miles.

But hey, back when you first announced it I gave you a 'hell yeah' (you couldn't hear it from there). You can at least pretend you are wandering. Who doesn't like wandering around a city? :)

Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship said...

Awesome commentary on the dignity of the body! You are so right on, but what a hard teaching to master.
Sounds like you've chosen a perfect devotion for you.

How's it going? Only a few weeks left in Lent - time for me, at least, to recommit and push to the goal! Even more literally for you!
Thanks so much for linking up in the Lenten carnival at KS. Happy Lent!
:) Katie

davidshem said...

sponsor a child