In late summer a wild idea popped into my head. Our F3 group should do a trail run together in the rocky terrain of northwest Arkansas. I’m sure that is probably due to the event advertisement for the Bella Vista Back 40 Trail Run popping up on my Facebook timeline.
I had to talk myself into it before asking anyone else to join me. In the past I had told myself and others that I wouldn’t do a trail run due to the risk of injury.
After I decided I would do it, I sent a note to the F3 group and found out that Yazoo and Sniper were planning to go as well. So, we signed up for the 13 mile run.
Sniper and I trained together on the trails around Lake Atalanta in Rogers, Arkansas a couple of times. And I trained on those trails four different times.
I found out quickly during our first training run that I would need shoes specifically for trail running in this rocky terrain. I love my Brooks Ravenna running shoes. So the next week I went to Rush Running in Bentonville and asked them to give me the trail running version, it was the Brooks Cascadia 10.
My longest training run at Lake Atalanta was about 7 miles at a pace of 10:40/mile. This may sound like a slow pace to road runners, but I assure you I was moving quite well for a new trail runner in that terrain and elevation variance.
The Trails at Lake Atalanta in Rogers, Arkansas are well maintained and they are marked with various levels of difficulty. I highly recommend these trails for a new trail runner. It is near historical downtown Rogers and after your run you can quickly jog or drive up the hill and have a cup of coffee and breakfast.
There are also numerous paved trails around Lake Atalanta that I train on regularly including an option to train on the grueling hill between the lake and the Railyard Mountain/BMX bike park which adjoins the downtown area.
My first training run of two miles caused a good bit of soreness in the hips and calf muscles. So, I made sure to start using the lateral movement elliptical machine on my cross training days at the gym.
On the week of the Back 40 race I checked the weather forecast and everything looked clear but cold. So I geared up appropriately with my running gloves and UA Cold Gear top and leggings (I wore my branded gear from my online store). I also wore my Brooks Cascadia trail running shoes that I picked up at Rush Running in Bentonville and my Junk headbands to cover my ears and neck.
On race morning I ate my protein bar and drank a Zipfizz. I met Yazoo and Sniper at the parking area at Bella Vista Blowing Springs park and we started our pre-race prep. This actually just means that we went to the restroom a couple times until we had everything out before the race started. We also did a few active stretches and static stretches.
The starting line was packed and buzzing with excitement. The race organizers of this event, along with the volunteers, are amazing. The starting line area, as well as all the aid stations, are well supplied and supportive. And the runners are all kind on the trails.
This event had distances from 5K, 13 mile, 20 mile and 40 mile for the run. There was also a mountain biking event the next day with the same distances.
We started the race and had a fun time together running in the woods of Bella Vista. The trails were nice but challenging to a new trail runner. I definitely used a few different muscles and ligaments in my hips and legs that I normally don’t use as much in paved running. But my training helped mitigate that.
I really enjoyed the Back 40 trail run and the mumblechatter with the folks on the trail. And to top it all off, they had fried catfish for all the finishers at the finish line.
It starts to hurt. Push through. You can do this.
Run your race, push your pace. Don’t let the crowd distract you from the goal.
The middle mile will make or break you. It doesn’t matter if it’s 5k or a marathon, the middle part is where the goal is achieved.
At the start the adrenaline propels you, at the end the finish line drags you in. But in the trudging of the middle miles you prove yourself.
So is life and this race we run on the route to the glorious end set before us.
Lord, please give us strength to endure to the end with that finish line in site, and it’s you we see waiting on the other side.
In Walden, Thoreau wrote the thought that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”. The second half of this quote was added later, but it perfectly emphasizes the meaning that Thoreau expressed in his writing.
Today, this quote can be applied to any working individual who has not yet found their purpose. They are simply trudging to work and living for the paycheck, hoping for the weekend to arrive so that they can fill the void in their life with useless pleasures.
This is Sad Clown syndrome. It affects everyone, but men are especially afflicted by it because we take on a burden of self-reliance for family finances, success and happiness.
We struggle alone, locked up in our own minds trying to work out the issue of self-worth. Afraid to show weakness. Weakness, we believe, is not becoming of a man or a professional. So we struggle alone until the sadness and depression sets in.
Our song locked up in us, never sung and never heard. Hidden away because we are afraid it isn’t good enough or it won’t make us enough money. This should not be the case.
Men and women of God need to live knowing that we are not meant to do this life on our own. We must know that our purpose and fulfillment come from being about the Father’s business and He will help us through. Our song and joy come from the Lord. And so too our provisions come from the Lord.
When your secular career and your talents line up, and you work as unto the Lord, that’s when the feeling of fullfilment starts to come. Then use the experience you gain from your day job in service for the kingdom and complete the process.
When we step out of our everyday routine and use our talent for the purpose that has been placed in us it may seem unnatural at first. Yet the feeling of fulfillment will be so worth it.
Sing your song for the Lord and don’t hide it until you die. Maybe the money wasn’t the most important thing when a life is assessed at the end of the journey. Maybe just being what God made us to be is enough.
Have you found what you are good at? Do you know what you are not really good at?
Our gift or purpose may not be flashy. We just need to do it with excellence for the one who created us. We must stop draining energy on our self focused ambitions and activate the purpose God has for us.
Not everyone is equipped or purposed to be the pastor of the local church. But we are called to exercise our gifts for God’s glory.
I anticipate that some of my readers will think, “but I don’t know what ministry God wants me to be in”. Sigh! You use your gift wherever you see a need in your local church or community.
And while you are exercising and honing your gift, God will slowly start showing you were you need to be or go. Just be willing to move once you see the plan.
Like a master artist creating His work, God knows how each brush stroke will impact the final painting. As onlookers we may not even understand what He is painting until the last stroke is placed on the canvas of our life. And as our final breath passes from us let it be filled with gladness and not regret of a life without purpose.
For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Romans 12:4-13 NASB