Guest Blogger: Clayton King


My First Run: Part 2

Here’s what I did didn’t do next…

No stretching.  No warming up.  No running shoes.  No time to digest my
carbohydrate grease feast from lunch.

I was wearing Nike hightop basketball shoes when they came to get me.
About 8 of them.  All skinny and fit.  Wearing Asics Gels and ankle
socks.  Juniors and Seniors, they were, and I, a mere Freshman, who
knew more about the history of Viking sword-smithing than running.

It was a chilly, overcast day with a thick mist in the air, and as soon
as we had made it out of the parking lot, I knew I was doomed.  My
lungs were filled with molten lava.  My throat was about to rupture.
Long strands of mucus hung from my nostrils and massive amounts of
phlegm kept crawling up my windpipe.  Death was near.

But the one thing I could not afford to do was admit my unpreparedness.
Death would be better than embarassment.  So I pressed on.  We had
covered about 200 yards.

At about 300 yards, my legs atrophied.  The muscles froze and my shins
and calves turned to stone.  My right side felt like a coal furnace and
my left side like a Habanero pepper farm.  I remember thinking that I
had fallen into the burning ring of fire that Johnny Cash had sang

I swore to myself and promised God that if I made it back to my dorm, I
would NEVER EVER run again unless I was being chased.  These guys were
nuts if they enjoyed this.  They must have all been trying to impress
each other, too, for that was the only possible motivation on earth to
make 8 other young men voluntarily undergo such unspeakable torture.

On the back side of the campus, about 3/4 of the way around the 2 mile
loop, is a hill that stretches 400 yards.  It was the very first thing
I thought about when my lungs and throat began to fill with battery
acid, but I knew I would have to face it eventually, and ascend it.
Walking back was not possible.

Up to “the hill” I had managed to stay with the pack, allbeit in last
place.  I did this by sheer will and toughness.  At such a young age, I
could absorb abuse for a season.  But when we started up “the hill”
they simply pulled away.  Like Tiger Woods at your local public gold
course tournament, they were a different breed than me.  I was running.
They were runners.

Sucking in air like a Hummer sucks fossil fuels, I limped to the top of
the hill, but they were out of sight when I got there.  They did not
wait.  In a weird mixture of shame for being so slow and weak, and
accomplisment for having made it without stopping (or throwing up), I
caught that famous “second wind” that every runner understands, and by
the time I got back to the dorm, my legs were hot as fire and my skin
was stinging and tingling.  My breathing had slowed down and my head
had quit throbbing.

I broke my promise.  The one I made to myself and to God.  The one
where I said I would never run again.  I have been running ever since
that day.  Not every day, but consistently.  And even when I go thorugh
seasons where I cannot keep a regiment, running always calls me back.
Every day I think about it.  Every other day I  try to do it.  From the
innaugural 2 mile loop of anguish, I was hooked.  Something so
miserable and painful became my escape.

There are so many paralells to running and my relationship with Jesus,
they are almost limitless.  A few come to mind…

I was totally unprepared and naieve going into my first run, just like
I was when Christ saved me at age 14.

I did not have any of the right gear or equipment for either task when
I first started.

I had no experience in either one and no idea what to expect.

I walked in to both blind, naieve, and cocky, but was quickly humbled
by the reality of the challenge.

I quickly learned, in running and in my faith,  to push through the
pain and keep moving forward.

I noticed that my brothers drove me on and their very presence would
not let me quit.

I took comfort in knowing that my friends had suffered, or were
suffering, the same thing that I was going through.

I knew the destination was fixed, so I just had think about reaching it
when I wanted to quit.

At first my desire was to impress others.  Now my desire is to savor
every moment as a treasure and a joy.

At first I feared the boys I ran with.  Now the only thing I fear is
the day when I will be too old to keep going.

At first I relied on my natural ability, which was useless.  Now I rely
on discipline, wisdom, and conditioning.

At first I needed to keep up with the others.  Now I don’t try to
impress anyone so I go at my own pace.

The longer I run, and the longer I follow Jesus, the more joy I find in
the experience.

Oh, and there’s one more big lesson.

But I’ll save that for tomorrow’s post.