Personal Best

I ran the Turkey Trot 5-miler last Thursday. I headed down to South Congress and joined 23,000 other trotters along with my favorite running buddy, Elaine. The starting line was at the far end of the bridge and it took us 20 minutes to cross it once the gun was blown. For whatever reason, we signed up to run untimed, so I had zero jitters, confident that the whole thing was just for fun.

Or so I thought. Two other gals joined us at the last minute and we spent the first two miles trying not to lose each other. The four of us weaved through the streets of downtown Austin, dodging jogging strollers and bouncing turkey costumes.

But when I peeked back over my shoulder after the second mile, I didn’t see my friends. I gave a few honest efforts to find them and then I kicked it into gear. I was on my own and feeling great. I thought, “Let’s see what this body can do!”

I pushed it. I haven’t run that hard since I was in 10th grade. Miles 3 and 4 were encouraging because I constantly passed people up and not one soul passed me. The fifth mile was a like a dream. Music blared behind me as I dug deep for the best kick I can ever remember having and I busted through the finish line feeling like an Olympian in the zone.

I can’t tell you my time, because I don’t run with a watch and I didn’t have a time chip in my bib. And, even though I imagined my husband and son cheering me on from the sidelines, there was no one there to see me accomplish this great feat. But, I wonder, does someone have to see it happen for it to actually count? Whom do I really have to impress?

This was the best run of my life because I had nothing riding on it. No one cared that I was there, I’d only given it a few thoughts beforehand and I wasn’t worth any more as a person because I tore it up out there. For so many years, I thought running far and fast would make me loveable. It never did; running can’t hold that much power. For the first time in my life, I am running because I enjoy it. I’ve never felt so certain that I was born to run as when I leaned into that final turn. God made me fast and, Chariots of Fire-style, I feel God’s pleasure when I run –that day more than any other, which makes it my personal best.

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