Adventures in Urban Running 

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June 4, 2017 by Benjamin

Disclaimers: I am hardly urban. I grew up in rural Georgia and its hard to “take the Georgia out of the man” as its said. Also, I am hardly a runner… at least I have a lot to learn about running. I’ve run several 5k’s and 3 half marathons, but I’m interested in taking my game to the next level. Right now I’m also trying to take advantage of our unique location near downtown Minneapolis and blaze some running routes in the area this summer. If (and this is a big if) I can figure out how to juggle Seminary classes and running in the fall, I’m hoping to run the TC Marathon October 1st. 

 I think in many ways, running is a microcosm of what real life (and specifically for me, the Christian life) looks like. There’s a lot to be gleaned from pushing yourself and aiming for a goal despite whatever obstacles arise. Running really is a mental game rather than a physical one. Its fascinating for me to try to track where my mind goes during a run… because it goes all over! And I want to try to capture that in writing.

These posts will probably read like a journal in some ways. For many people, it will be TMI or just not interesting. But for those who like to run or who like to live vicariously or who are trying to push themselves somehow, these posts will hopefully be curious and possibly inspiring. And if you experienced runners have a tip for me, send it my way!

Where? Around the Minneapolis lakes. Probably the least “urban” route I’ve ran all summer, except for the fact that the trails and beaches were SWARMING with more people than the total population of the town I grew up in. Sunday afternoon is (obviously) a popular time!

How far? 6.15 miles, give or take. (Right now I’m tracking my distance with my ipod and it could probably use some calibration.)

How long did it take me? 46:40 for about 7:40 minute miles. I’m super happy with that. I’m aiming for 8 minute miles when I run longer distances. And since I haven’t ran 6 miles in probably over two years, I’m good.

Hardest part of the run? Probably miles 2-3. I had a stitch in my right side and didn’t feel like I was taking deep enough breaths. I tried to exhale deeper and ended up trying to work it a little with my hand, and that helped a bit. The stitch went away about mile 4. The heat was a little tricky to navigate too… I think it was about 90 degrees in the sunshine out there.

Playlist for the run? “Marathoner 2.0,” my specially blended playlist for running this year. (“Marathoner 1.0” from 2015 just didn’t do justice to the new songs I’ve acquired. And rather than adding to it I let it die with dignity. ) I have energetic and loud songs (of various genres) on there from Tobymac (yes, yes, embarrassing but true), Kelly Clarkson, Matt Maher, and others.

Deep thought from the run? A refrain from Matt Maher’s song “Rise Up” stuck in my head for a while:

All the lambs roar like lions/and all the prisoners breakin’ their chains/and all the poor findin’ their treasure/cause heaven is coming this way

It seemed to me (as I passed swarms of people and tried to exhale deeply) that that was a picture worth thinking about. Its obviously a biblical picture, from chapters like Isaiah 11, Isaiah 61, and Isaiah 65. And Jesus has starting bringing that world about: he came preaching this kind of kingdom and won the right to rule by dying as a sacrifice like a lamb. A lot of times we think of heaven as someplace “out there” that we gain entrance to after we die because of the good works we did in our lifetimes. But Jesus’s mission was to bring heaven to us. Jesus came to show that God’s kingdom is coming to the hearts of people everywhere if they would believe in him.

And yet we have to admit that that world is not fully here yet. Jesus still is bringing that world about, and he is doing that through his Church. I want to be committed to that mission. Its grand and wonderful, and I’m thankful for people who can capture it in words like Matt Maher.

What song did I end on? I thought as I rounded the lake that I would end on Tobymac’s “Feel It” (and oh, did I feel it… the burn, that is.), but I actually ended in the middle of Capital King’s “I Feel So Alive” (yes, I utilized word-play to organize my playlist. Brandon Heath’s “No Turning Back” is followed by Matt Maher’s “Turn Around,” etc, etc, etc. I was a Literature minor in undergrad, after all).

Considering all this, I’d like to dedicate this run to my youngest brother-in-law, whose favorite song at one time— and very well may still be— Tobymac’s “Feel It.” I was thinkin’ about you, bro. I was feelin’ for you “in my heart and in my soul.”

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