Running Transforms, Literally

Running transforms you, literally.

What else could I have expected in Texas in late April (of 2017)? After spending 39:25:44 covering 102 miles in the heat of up to nearly 90 degrees with no shades, I became a different race, pun intended. I had never experienced and knew nothing about a sunburn prior to this, so when the skin in my face, followed by my neck, arms, and legs, began peeling off, I freaked out until my father laughed and told me over the phone that my skin would probably look cleaner than pre-race. Next time, I will certainly remember to apply sunscreen in this type of condition. I also must have lost, temporarily, around 20 pounds and do remember my feet and one calf had bizarrely swollen up like hamburgers.

When I signed up for a 10K in Omaha, Nebraska, in February 2019, I did not expect to be running in 0 degrees, although I had run a few miles slowly in this temperature one recent evening. I could feel and see my eyelashes had frozen, but little did I know my entire face (and beanie) was covered in frost. I can only imagine how much funnier I would have become with a legitimate beard and mustache. As I awaited my official result, a lady in front of me asked to take a photo of me to send to her husband to prove the brutality of the race conditions, which prompted me to take a selfie and realize how hilarious I looked. I still managed my second-fastest 10K of 50:02.1. My body for sure prefers extreme cold to extreme heat.

I know I cannot use #TransformationTuesday today, but I did not feel like waiting until Tuesday just for the sake of this hashtag. Feel free to share your transformation running photo(s) in the comment section below!

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Sleep-Run

PC: Bodies Race Company – Omaha

Returning to running earlier than recommended, I began to feel the straining of my right foot worsen with each casual run and worry I may indeed be verging on a stress fracture. Before taking some needed time off running to err on the side of caution, I decided on one more 10K at the Hero Hustle, taking place on June 8, 2019, at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park in Ashland, Nebraska.

PC: Bodies Race Company – Omaha

PC: Bodies Race Company – Omaha

Not falling asleep the night before a race has become the norm, but I struggled this time with sleepiness significantly more than usual due to picking up two friends and driving two-and-a-half hours to Ashland at 4:30 AM. I had trouble waking myself up from the drowsiness prior to the event, and I felt as if I almost ran instinctively while half asleep. I struggled the vast majority of the race with unanticipated vicious stomach cramps that refused to leave. Completing the same hilly 5K loop twice felt repetitive, and the heat that must have reached 80 degrees made this one of the toughest 10K’s I have ever run, although thankfully my right foot held up.

After recklessly starting at a six-minute-mile pace, I had a very average performance of a 53:48.53 finish, but I acknowledged, if these conditions affected me, they must have affected other participants also. Although I was initially declared the winner of Age Group 30-39, which pleasantly surprised me, I saw there could have been multiple system errors and asked the racing company via Facebook to recheck the results. The team, after looking over the timing computers and results, confirmed I actually placed second and thanked me for my honesty and mailed me my silver medal. I do not want a gold medal I did not actually win, so this correction relieved me.

Living for Him

I hate conflict, and if “it is possible, as far as it depends on [me], [I try to] live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). In this age of social media, where so many people become so easily triggered and upset by any post that may even remotely disagree with their viewpoints, I have gone from being quite outspoken in my belief, even in sensitive topics, to hardly mentioning anything political that would inevitably create a heated dispute among unbelievers. I feel generally “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [me] to give the reason for the hope that [I] have” and do so “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). I strive to be “completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love,” but, a mere man, I, like everyone else, daily sin and “fall short of the glory of God,” and I am eternally grateful I have a patient, merciful, and forgiving Father who renews me every day (Ephesians 4:2, Romans 3:23).

This raises the question: Where do I draw a line between sharing the truth of the gospel in and out of love and hurting the feelings of so many, which does not take much in this generation that seems to almost search for reasons to be angry. The Bible could not be clearer about the nature of sin and certain detestable acts, in the sight of God, that have become so prevalent to the point many believe they fight for justice by despising and opposing the teachings of our Creator; they do not understand, when they challenge the Bible, they challenge not fellow humans but the Author. Those who do not know Jesus acting like they do not know Jesus do not bother me, but those who invoke the Name of Jesus and His Word and lead others astray, whatever the reason, infuriate me; “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside” (1 Corinthians 5:12). If you proclaim with your lips to follow Jesus and then only believe what you want to believe and act as the judge, are you really a follower of Christ? As Christians, we should love our neighbors as ourselves and treat them with gentleness and respect, but this does not equal encouraging behaviors that dishonor God.

Painting of Jesus by Akiane Kramarik

If by loving and obeying Jesus people hate you, remember that the world “hated [Jesus] without reason,” and, as a “servant is not greater than his master,” those who follow Jesus too will certainly face trials and be hated and persecuted in this world temporarily ruled by Satan (John 15:25, John 15:20). Those who want “to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own,” but you who belong to Jesus have been chosen “out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:19). Therefore, I do not put much weight into what people think of me; I only care about what my Father in Heaven thinks of my heart. As Jesus warns, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Hell” (Matthew 10:28). Sure, as a mere human, I may be hurt by fellow humans every now and then, but I stand firm in the faith that my Father has always been and will forever be faithful and never forsake those who love and seek Him with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strengths. As my pastor would say, I live from, not for, God’s approval, and it would be unloving of me not to share this loving truth with outsiders.

I would rather do the will of God and be condemned by humans than do the will of humans and be condemned by God. I would rather please God and be judged by humans than please humans and be judged by God.