Cruising Through Challenges

For the last nine years the endless blacktop has been both my friend and my enemy.

The road has welcomed me on good days and accepted me on bad days. It has challenged me to conquer distance, hills and speed. It has challenged me to channel my energies, both good and bad, into one funnel of focus. The road pushed against me when I needed it to and accepted my pounding when I needed it to. I have celebrated personal victories that I never dreamed I could achieve (or for that matter would ever dream I would want to achieve) and it never fails to summon me back. The road has wiped tears that needed to fall from the depths of my soul. The road has never judged me; there is no right or wrong as long as I offer myself. It accepts heartache and happiness. For heartache, it heals and for happiness, it celebrates. It has always returned far more than I could offer. Today was my longest run since the Philadelphia Half Marathon last November. This year there have been times I wasn’t sure I wanted the road nor was I sure the road wanted me. I wondered if it would call me back, to both love on me and to challenge me. Like all genuine friends, it was there waiting for me when I was ready.

Today I felt like I was on cruise control. Not every run feels that way, but WOW, when you are in the midst of your element and recognize it…it leaves you speechless. The weather was a runner’s dream. Apparently taco salad is pretty good fuel and the blacktop was my friend today. It was a solo run but with about ten other runners on the same course I crossed paths with friends along the way. My goal was 10 miles, but somewhere along the way I felt like Forrest Gump and I just wanted to run and run. When I got back to my car I had run 11.5 miles and I felt freedom I hadn’t felt in months. The distance and the hills are always enemies. When we conquer them, it’s okay to look back and smile at your enemy that became your friend and challenged you to do more than you thought you could. We are all objects in fast motion. Too often we are forced to focus on the busy motions of daily life that sometimes blind us to our success.

Today I am so thankful for my dear friend Sharon, who asked me nine years ago to run a half marathon. She believed in me when I thought the challenge was too big. She introduced me to a world I did not know existed and did not know I would need. For friends who push us to conquer more, for roads that call us to conquer more and for life’s tests that challenge us to trust more, I’m thankful.

There are no regrets in trying, whatever the challenge. There is always victory in trying, no matter the challenge. The challenge will never define us; how we choose to tackle the challenge is what molds and shapes us into the person God wants us to be. At the end of the day, what matters most is that we stood up and faced the challenge. That, my friends, is when the enemy becomes our friend and the victory is ours to claim.

© Gatewood Campbell, September 2013