by Adam Keyes
Time to run.
It’s on. I’m gonna run. I mean, I’m gonna really run.
A little about me. I’m 39, married, father of three. I used to be in great shape. “Used to” is pretty important here.
I used to be able to run for miles.
I could run like Forrest Gump, or Usain Bolt, or that guy that recently ran a full marathon in like 12 minutes.
Big problem. I’m not Forrest Gump, or those other guys, and I’m certainly not what I used to be.
No matter. It’s time to get back in shape. It’s time to run.
I’ve come to realize that there are two key factors that determine the enjoyability of running. Two factors, in particular, make all the difference: location and music. Let me be clear–running is miserable. It’s awful. You could run in Heaven and listen to Mozart, and you’d still hate it. Well, you might enjoy it, but I would still hate it. There are some creatures (I’ve heard) who claim to enjoy running. Do not listen to such creatures. As the Apostle Paul says, “Have nothing to do with them.”
I set off on my run in a wonderful location: Clemson University. Now, you may be thinking that a college campus is surely not a great place to go on a run, and you’d be right, except that, it’s Sunday morning. Sunday morning on a college campus is a great time and place to go for a run. Nobody’s awake. The entire campus is empty. No one is going to see how slow you are, and as a huge plus, Clemson’s campus is amazingly beautiful. Grassy fields, towering trees, flat sections, hilly sections. It’s just great. I park in downtown Clemson and point myself toward Bowman Field. Perfect. Location is perfect.
I already know what distance I’m going for. I’m going for three miles. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why I’m going for three miles. I just am. I guess it’s because I know that a 5k is somewhere close to three miles. I don’t know what a ‘k’ is, but three miles sounds like an achievable goal, and it may be impressive enough to make my wife think I’m really tough. I have my distance plugged into my little Nike app thing, and now it’s time to select the music.
Oh buddy, I need some good music. I mean, I need it. Music is key. It’s paramount. If you don’t have the right music, then you just won’t make it. Simple as that. Okay, so what music? I could go hardcore rap. Get me all fired up. Get me angry. Get me cussin’ and swearin’ and ragin.’ Hmm. Maybe not. Honestly, I do love a nice classical piece. How ’bout some Mendelssohn or Chopin? Hmm. Not today.
I need something that will take my mind off of the torture before me. I need something fun and happy. I want that “pep in my step” type music. Something like “Conga” by Gloria Estefan or “YMCA” by those guys that dressed crazy. I select a playlist called Fun Run and set off at an unprecedented pace.
1st song: “ABC,” Jackson Five, 1970
The Lord is clearly with me. I’ve got the Jackson Five in my ear. I’m feeling great. The hills are no issue. I pass a group of three old men. They’re jogging, or walking. I’m not sure, but they can’t hear what I can hear…
“ABC, easy as one, two, three. Simple as do re mi…”
Thanks Jackson Five, it IS easy as one, two, three. But now we’re kicking into the 2nd half of mile one. Oh boy. This is no longer cute. I’m dying. Already. I used to be able to run for miles.
2nd song: “Danger Zone,” Kenny Loggins (from Top Gun), 1986
And again, the Lord is with me. I don’t know how to explain it, but I was on fire. I couldn’t be stopped. No one could stop me. Shredding electric guitars were blazing in my head. I’m back. It’s like when Moses had to lift his arms to win the battle. Kenny Loggins was holding up my arms. Thank you, Kenny.
3rd song: “Honestly, I have no idea.”
Miles two and three are a blur. I’m in and out. I may have blacked out at some point. Only the Lord knows. Here’s what I do know. I had a goal of three miles, and I was gonna make that three miles. I ran and ran. Songs came and went. I kept running. I may have walked a few times. I may have laid down a few times. Only the Lord knows.
Point is, I made it three miles. Praise the Holy One.
Problem is, I’m nowhere near my car. I’m way across campus, and I need to go all the way back into downtown Clemson. Time to make a decision. Men or mice. Who am I? Am I a man, or am I a mouse? I’ll tell you something right now, I ain’t no mouse. I’m a man. I have three sons, a riding lawn mower, and a mortgage. I’m a man.
I’m not walking back to my car. No chance. Those old men aren’t going to see me walking all the way back. I’m going for it. I’m extending this three mile run to whatever it needs to be to get me back to my car. I pick up the pace as my right hip gets typhoid fever. My hip is screaming. It hurts so bad. Help me, Lord Jesus.
Last song: “Baby, Baby,” Amy Grant, 1991
As our great great great grandfather Jacob said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
Let me be very, very clear. If you are under the age of 35, you need to listen to me. Amy Grant was it. She was like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Billie what’s her name, and everyone else combined. Amy brought the heat. The synthesizers. The electronic drums. Yes please.
But wait, Amy sings, “Stop, for a minute.” Oh no. Amy tempts me to stop. Away from me temptress.
I won’t stop for a minute. I won’t stop for a second. I will complete this run. I will make it back to my car a victorious warrior.
At this point, the word “running” may or may not apply to whatever I’m doing. At least some part of my body is either dragging or scraping the concrete. It’s not pretty.
Next last song: “Summer of 69,” Bryan Adams, 1985
As “Baby, Baby” fades into the past, the song of songs comes on. I don’t mean the Song of Songs from the Bible. I mean the song of songs from 1985, when I was four years old.
IT starts playing. IT.
Ohhhhhhh buddy. It’s happening. It’s happening.
Bryan Adams’ raspy voice soothes my soul. I’m back. I’m in the zone. My right hip has fallen off. It hasn’t literally fallen off. But it does feel just awful.
The melodies. The harmonies. The bridge of the song kicks in. The epic key change. Oh man. I can see my car. I give it everything I have. I pass out. Or do I? Only the Lords knows.
As the music fades, and all is slipped away, I make it back. 3.86 miles.
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.
So what did I learn? Apparently I don’t like music made in the last 25 years.
Also, you can accomplish more than you think. It probably won’t look pretty. It will probably hurt. Anything you want in life is probably on the other side of a battle. If Jesus is on the water, jump out of that boat and run to Him. If you sink, He’ll pull you back up. At the end of the day, it comes down to a simple choice. Am I gonna go for it or not? Whether it’s losing weight, knowing the Father more, organizing your closet, or loving your family–ask for strength, believe that the Holy Spirit is with you, and go for it.