Monday, December 13, 2010

You're Getting There...

Lyle Claussen and I run north on Kearney’s 2nd Avenue near 27th Street when he utters his frequent encouraging message, “You’re getting there!” There represents the physical conditioning to run the Boston Marathon on 17 April 1995, still months away.

Each time I hear “You’re getting there!” my mind wonders, “Will I ever arrive? Will I ever attain the necessary level of fitness?” I set the goal of running, and “placing high” in the Boston Marathon as an eight year old in 1975.

The training consisted of running 70 – 90 miles per week, including 20 to 25 miles every Sunday before or after church. Running everyday in Nebraska necessitates enduring temperature ranges from -35 F to +118 F, absent wind-chill or heat index adjustments.

This represents a 153 degree temperature variance, much larger if figuring wind-chill and heat index. Additionally, one endures the full gamut of weather conditions from blizzard to severe thunderstorms. The terrain toppings vary from deep snow, ice, mud and dust. One must negotiate each with traction, strength and balance.

Some claim wind-chill, heat index, footing, and storm conditions have little effect on those running or working outside. These comments remind of the guy  who says his cattle never get out—he doesn’t have cattle. Similarly, those denying weather’s effect on the body lack working outside for long periods in extreme conditions.

I firmly marked 17 April 1995 on the calendar. Yet, no guarantee existed of my attaining the desired level of physical fitness to optimally compete in the world’s premiere annual marathon, second in overall prestige only to the Olympics. I trained in faith, belief and trust of Christ, this included his chosen coach for me, Lyle Claussen.

With my internalized vision and Lyle’s reminding me that I am “getting there,” my training continued through miserable weather, sore muscles, missed social opportunities, tired mind and hungry body. Frequently, my stomach rebelled in queasy turmoil at the end of runs.

Mental and physical exhaustion saturated every neuron, vein, vessel, muscle, tendon and ligament between the top of my head and the tip of my toes. Seemingly, every nerve suffered as victims of lightning strikes. The end of these runs often correlated with my collapsing in the street.

One expects these agonies and inconveniences as a necessary part of the journey on the road to Victoryville. Good marathoners know this road bypasses Comfortville. In fact, meaningful achievements virtually always reside well beyond the boundaries of Comfortville and the surrounding communities.

The greater the achievement(s) sought, the further one must reside from Comfortville. Can you imagine the reaction of other runners if one only engaged in a light jog each day while expecting to run a fast marathon? The uproar of laughter from experienced runners would resemble fifty simultaneous freight train whistles.

Pursuing great achievements of Christ’s will for our life will require equal, perhaps exceed, the training and consequential challenges of training our body and mind for running. Does a greater achievement exist than attianing Christ’s will for your life? No!

Are we willing to endure severe testing of our body and mind? Are we willing to test our faith to the point of collapsing on our knees? Are we willing to endure our pursuits’ neccessary mental and physical exhaustion? Are we willing to suffer the queasy, sickening turmoil in our stomachs, asking if it is all “worth it?”

We expect to pay this price for athletic success. Do we expect the pain in pursuing Christ’s desires for our life? At times athletics and Christ’s desires for us are the same.

Does your desire for serving Christ in faith drive you to collapse from physical and mental exhaustion? Like marathon training, does your faith training, cause you to miss various social opportunities? Just like marathon training, achieving Christ’s will for your life requires avoiding Comfortville.

The Wednesday night before the Boston Marathon, Lyle and I ate at Kearney’s Spaghetti Shop. I began eating my second plate of spaghetti when Lyle leaned forward whispering, “You’re ready!” Shivers of excitement exploded up and down my spine.

I longed for these words while training in temperatures ranging from -35F to 118 F. I longed for this message while trudging through snow, mud, rain, sliding on ice and eating dust. I sought this message while sleet pelted my face, snow blow down my back, lightning danced amidst my path and the sun’s rays enhanced my throat’s desiccation.

Despite the one mistake of the early discontinuation of drinking water during the Boston Marathon that resulted in dehydration, I achieved my goal of placing among the top ten Americans. Yes, I was victorious in achieving a goal set as an eight year old in June 1975.

Avoiding Comfortville while training enabled me to visit Victoryville in racing.

Have you defined your goals? Avoid Comfortville, keep your eye on your Victoryville, “You’re getting there!”

See Christ, Believe Christ, Achieve with Christ!

Rick E. Meyer
See, Believe, Achieve Inc.

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