“Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be…….” I changed the words to “getting your big butt up the side of the mountain” as I tried catching my breath in the midst of a run where I gained over 3000’ of altitude gain in just three miles. It was one of those too steep for words grades straight up the side of a mountain where every time you came to a crest you hoped it was the last one only to be disappointed as you lifted your head to see yet another pitch in front of you. The overwhelming feeling when I finally crested the last pitch and saw nothing but flattish ground and trees and even a couple downhills lifted my spirits and made my feet feel like they were floating on air. “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18 Hope is a funny thing you know because it’s such an incredible feeling of expectation and wish for a certain thing to happen. As I continue to push myself past what I believe I am I find that hope is a very sensible thing to possess in abundance because it keeps me able to endure what I am going through.
Hope is what keeps me moving relentlessly forward as I continue to pursue this ultra life.
I’m not sure if anybody else is aware of this but moose are really LARGE! I was up running in the mountains and in the distance noticed one of our fine, furry friends just munching on some grass. I paused my run, took a long distance picture and happily continued to amble on. Suddenly I looked over to my left and there he was, right at the fence line only about 50 yards away from me. That made me nervous, when he leaped the fence and came out on the road I was running that made me even more nervous. Eventually after about a half mile of this he grew bored with me. And all I could say was “Thank God!” Which of course got me thinking about just what it means to be thankful and how to put it in the perspective of pushing yourself past what you think you are able to do. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 When we push ourselves mentally, physically and yes even spiritually there is no other place to go than thankfulness because no matter what gets thrown our way we can give thanks continually, rejoice always and pray continually. These were the exact things I was thinking with my friendly moose only in a different order. I was praying continually “please go the other way”, rejoicing always “awesome he went the other way” and thankful in all circumstances “Thank you God that I got to see that moose so closely I could make out the raised up fur on his back”.
Relentless forward movement is all about being thankful continually in all circumstances as you live an ultra life and watch how your perspective on life changes.
I really wanted to get out on a trail running, the weather wasn’t cooperating so the trails were full of snow and there didn’t seem any way to get there. So I did what any runner desperate for some trail miles would do……I went out on the trail any way. And of course as I “ran” along the trail the snow kept getting deeper and deeper and wetter and wetter and as I came above this rise and the mountains peeked above the clouds shimmering in the beautiful whiteness of new snow I realized just how blessed I am able to move my body and run through the incredible scenery that God has painted just for me to enjoy. Psalm 76:4 “You are glorious and more majestic than the everlasting mountains.” Being blessed enables me to run in such majesty means that as I enjoy the beauty God has placed me in I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. That requires that sometimes I need to get uncomfortable enough to put yourself into circumstances where you can see His majesty in ways you never knew you could put yourself in.
Relentless forward movement also requires being willing to put yourself into uncomfortable situations so you can truly live an ultra life.
Spring snow storms are really………..interesting. I chose that word because it was better than the cuss word I wanted to use. We recently had a storm that started on a Wednesday afternoon and finally melted off the following Monday. During this wonderful spring snow storm our basement flooded which normally wouldn’t be a big deal but we ended up having to pump the water out of the basement so it wouldn’t get to the level and put out our water heater pilot light. The exhaustion of continually pumping out water, carrying buckets out to the alley and then constructing a canal to drain water away from the house was in many ways worse than running an ultra marathon. Somewhere in this strange water marathon I realized that strength could only be exhibited by moving forward. As I was pumping out the basement wishing I was out running a mountain trail this strange verse came into my head out of nowhere. “The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.” Well with all the water my hands were pretty well clean but as I dwelt on this verse it dawned on me that clean hands come from surrendering pride and self-sufficiency to my God.
As we move relentless forward in this ultra life it is important to look at obstacles as ways to continue to put off the things that hold us back and see the ways that God is moving in our lives.
On every long run there is a point where you realize that physically you are done, your body just can’t possibly move forward and every ache and pain comes to the forefront. This is where mental toughness comes into play and quite frankly this is where you better have faith in something more than what you can do. For me this is exemplified in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “….My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” There are many times where people tend to look at admitting weakness as something negative but I believe it is the complete opposite, this is a positive in my life. Running loosens something in my life where I am able to not only see my weaknesses but allow the Holy Spirit to give me strength I know I don’t have.
Living an ultra life and moving forward relentlessly means realizing where you are weak and have need of a Savior is actually one of the strongest things you can do.