Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pray Once, Then Give Thanks: Colorado Bend 60K

Occasionally I hear a homily that not only sticks with me, but changes my behavior.  That was the case with last Sunday's, where the priest's message was "pray once, then give thanks."  His point was that we sometimes keep asking God over and over for things, like Abraham in Genesis 18:16-33.  Is there anyone who's not annoyed by that scripture, when Abraham asks God if he'd spare 50 innocent people -- and how about 45? Would You spare 45? What about 40? etc.  Although Abraham does show persistence in his prayer, he doesn't display trust in God, that God has heard his prayer and will answer it if it's in accordance with His will.

The priest's message was that, instead of being irritating like Abraham, we should be more like Mary; at the wedding at Cana, when she asked her son Jesus to turn the water into wine, his reponse was no.  But she didn't keep asking him; rather, she moved ahead in faith and hope, instructing the servers to do whatever Jesus told them.  And, of course, Jesus did perform the miracle. 

I've been trying to apply this idea to my own prayer life.  So as the Colorado Bend 60K approached, I only asked God once to help me have the best race I could.  Then I just did my best, giving thanks for all the little and big blessings of the race. 

Here are some of the things I was thankful for:
  • Great friends.  I got to hang out with the Rockhoppers in their posh set-up by the starting line before the race, and then chatted with them again briefly after the race.  It's hard to come by nicer, kinder, more generous people.
  • Only falling 4 times.  Because I almost fell about a bazillion times.  Seriously, it was an incredibly rocky course.  There were some stretches that I thought of as minefields of rocks.  I was also thankful that I was able to bounce right back on my feet, not losing time after each fall.  I have some nice battle wounds to show for it, which is always fun.
  • Not running face-first into a giant spider that was weaving its web across the trail.  I saw it at the last minute and ducked to the left. To say that it was the size of my palm would be exaggerating . . . but not by much. 
  • More battle wounds -- from kicking a sharp, pointy rock (possibly the sharpest, pointiest rock in the park) into my left ankle.  And for the pain going away after only .25 mile or so.
  • Not meeting Bigfoot.  When I heard branches snapping -- loud enough that I could hear it over my loud music -- at 1:26am, alone in the dark woods, I thought to myself, Maybe Dad's right about Bigfoot . . . :)
  • For the best-feeling stomach yet during an ultra. Thanks to my coach, who recommended I try EFS slurry.  (I think the term slurry makes it sound too disgusting to drink, so I renamed mine; see below.)

At/after the race, I also gave thanks for:
  • The beautiful sunset. 
  • Seeing so many bright stars in the absolute blackness of the country sky.  And a shooting star!
  • Finishing the race.  I guess I lost the ability to count to four at some point during the race, because I was really uncertain whether I had just left the last aid station, or whether there was one more.  So when I saw the finish line, all I could think was "Praise God!"  That was a really tough course -- the hardest yet in this race series, I'd say.
  • Brother wind, to occasionally cool me down.
  • Safely driving back to San Antonio -- a three hour drive -- from 4:00am to 7:00am, without hitting any of the many deer lurking in the ditches.  (Although I did run over a skunk, which I feel sad about.  Poor Pepe.  He had a really cool-looking spiky white hair-do.  At least we didn't make eye contact -- then I'd feel even worse.)
Three of these night-time 60Ks down; one more to go.  I guess my nickname will have to be "second place," because that's been my fate each time.  And I'm thankful.