Obsession with People I Don’t Actually Like

Have you ever noticed that it’s far easier to think about someone with whom you completely disagree? Sometimes, I absolutely despise a person because of what his life represents, the words that come out of his mouth, his complete lack of self-awareness… and yet, I really enjoy thinking about him.


According to Anne Perry, “Being likeable and being compelling are not necessarily the same thing.” (Foreword to WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL).

Thus, let us tip our glasses to the folks fictional and non- who are altogether too interesting to completely abandon, but also big enough jackasses that we’d never consider them friends.

Book Review: The Assassin’s Apprentice

I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway, and for that, I am eternally indebted. :-)

Dear Ashly,

I woke up this morning and finished a book.

As you well-know, I have quite the difficulty in trusting folks, but I didn’t realize until this morning how frustratingly daft I can be in that same capacity with authors.

I began reading The Assassin’s Apprentice mostly so that I could fulfill my book review duties after having won it, and also, I was eager to add another mediocre read to my classroom shelf for the kiddos. One of my greatest joys in reading books that aren’t quite brilliant is that they fill a material teacher need for the great classroom library and simultaneously make me feel selfless, although true selflessness would obviously be more along the lines of giving away books I’ve loved unequivocally, as I’ve loved The Assassin’s Apprentice, and yet I can’t bring myself to put such a pearl before a population that so rarely notes the elegance in carefully-imagined lies.

I don’t think we’ve ever talked about this, but I suspect you can relate: there is a great distinction for me between books that ought to be kept and books that ought to be discarded. The ones that ought to be kept are few and nearly always too long in the coming… for the keeping of a book to be re-read is a great distinction which loses its weight if anything other than the best are retained. It’s much like the keeping of people. Most are worth a conversation or two – an hour or two. A few are worth a short season of life, but rare is the one that merits a lifetime.

With that in mind, I intended to read Hobb’s book, then shelve it at work and let some undeserving student run off with it. I sometimes imagine students coming across books they ought to have returned to me a decade ago. They’re unpacking boxes as they move into their first cheap apartments, and they come across some mass market paperback bearing the harsh mark of “MS. JAMES” driven into permanence by black Sharpie. Of course, they eventually give up on that slim belief that they might eventually return what they borrowed, and they throw the thing away. Which is why they can’t be trusted with the best books.

As I started into The Assassin’s Apprentice, I liked some of the allegorical elements Hobb created – characters named Chivalry, Patience, Regal, etc… I also liked that the main character is the bastard son of a noble, for I know a little of what it is not to live up to the family’s standards. I liked that he could communicate telepathically with beasts, because whose heart doesn’t grow two sizes every time she sees a puppy trotting through town, eyes intent on his boy?

But, somehow, I wasn’t quite sold.

I admit that I’m often lazy as a reader. If I’m not working with Dickens or Dumas, my expectation is that the reading of a book will be “easy, light, smooth, and fast” as Caballo Blanco said running should be. The Assassin’s Apprentice wasn’t exactly difficult reading, but it did require more attention than I’m used to offering an obligation book. Undesired requirements on my brain are often the stumbling block that keeps me from epic fantasy – it’s a little too brain-intensive for me to understand the inner-workings of a brand-new world. Urban Fantasy strikes the consumer chord in my heart, because the players are the most complex element to which I must acclimate myself, rather than having to submit to new laws of physics, geography, systems of government, languages, etc…

So I was slow.

Really slow.

However, as the end of this year loomed over me, it started seeming pretty prudent to actually finish books rather than starting new ones, if only for the sake of this year’s Goodreads Reading Challenge.

So… I decided to have a real sitting with Robin Hobb, rather than just quickly checking in with a page or two.

And I enjoyed it. I still wasn’t sold, because I had a failure of trust, in which I wasn’t quite convinced Robin Hobb is both competent and worthy of my time. I wasn’t sure all of the work my brain was doing would lead to an adequate pay-off. I basically felt intrigued by Hobb’s world and even her person, but I wasn’t ready to entrust myself fully to her – I wasn’t ready to believe she was leading me on a quest worth undertaking, or to trust her with a love of characters she is empowered to kill, or to believe she’ll bring together all of the pieces and tie them off elegantly, as the author is charged with doing.

Then, it happened! Mid-book, Hobb put me in tears.

And it blew my mind because they weren’t PMS tears, or ones that I could restrain, or even wanted to restrain. They were the tears of Dobby taking a knife for Harry Potter – which is saying something. It was a mind-boggling experience because I hadn’t even fully entrusted my heart to Hobb. Thus, I stood a bit baffled that she’d captivated me enough to earn those tears.

That should have been enough, but I honestly fought Hobb right up until the last twenty pages or so, when the elements of a world, its inhabitants, and a murderous quest merged in a way that might only be achieved by a top-rate writer who is also a brilliant and kind human being.

I doubt anyone but you can understand how much I mean by that, because you are the only kindred spirit to whom I can so enthusiastically recommend events, people, and places that are not real. I’ve never met another to whom I might repeatedly marvel about the crafting of that one story without also feeling I’ve worn you down with my tedious awe and revelry in elaborate lies. I’ve never had another friend to whom I might shamelessly confess my tears and the many times I’ve blown-off real-life friends to sit quietly, eating a Trader Joe’s frozen dinner, feeling more fulfilled by an evening spent in the presence of fake people than I ever would have felt with real ones.

I believe you are the perfect reader for this book, even more so than I am, and it is to you that I recommend Hobb and The Assassin’s Apprentice without reservation. Others might accept my recommendation, then falter at the effort and empathy Hobb’s fictional world requires. They would tell me Fitz’s tale is okay, but that they’ve realized they aren’t “readers” and couldn’t quite finish. You, however, are without doubt, the best reader I know, and that is why I believe you will understand.

I hope you will see in Hobb’s writing, a kindred spirit, a Blue Sword, an Ordinary Princess, and a house elf whose love and loyalty don’t blink to intervene when true evil pursues those we love. The Assassin’s Apprentice is the best book I’ve read in years.

Your friend in fiction and reality,

The Need to Write

If anyone asks me, ‘Should I be a writer?’ I always have the same answer: ‘If anything I can say will make any difference to you, then, no, you shouldn’t, because to stay through the disappointments and the failures, the financial hardships and the dents to the self-esteem, you have to not just want to write but to need to. Then, you will ignore all the warnings and the negative advice in the world, and proceed to prove them all wrong.'”

Anne Perry in her forward of WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL.

The Truest Letter of Recommendation

In Surge, we’ve been reading a book called You Can Change, by Tim Chester.

And, in all honesty, I’ve been hating it.

I don’t hate it because there’s anything wrong with the book. I think I hate it because I know I can change, and I also know that, while my commitment level, choices of strategy, and will power all factor into my ability to change, God is the only true agent of change.

We’ve read 3 chapters, and what they’ve basically said is that Jesus has made atonement for our sins, so we shouldn’t try to change ourselves in order to somehow win His favor. It also says that we shouldn’t try to change to impress ourselves or others, and that we actually aren’t very good at changing ourselves, and thus, God is really the one Who has to change us. It also says that legalism is a problem in most people’s hearts, and we shouldn’t rely on the law for much other than to reveal our inability and inadequacy to keep the law.

Of course, there are more details in the book, but those are pretty much the basics, which is good, because those are also basics of the faith.

I think I got the idea, way back when that whole mess with the big church was happening, that Surge was this important advanced training thing. It was oh-so-very-exclusive… only certain people were deemed “mature enough” to participate. And everyone acted like it was solid-food Christianity. It was as if anyone who hadn’t been included was missing out on something major. We were lacking, and our lack wasn’t even address-able by Surge because we weren’t mature enough in our faith to be ready for Surge.

But what I’m realizing is that Surge is the basics.

It’s that the Son of God died for the benefit of sinners; therefore, how does that apply to everything…

which is really what I’ve been studying since my adoption into the family of God.

Surge is just one more Bible study/discipleship program/thing that has the noble goal of teaching people what this whole “being a Christian” thing even is.

In all honesty, Surge isn’t particularly special or advanced.

I’ve had a ton of opportunities to learn all of the things Surge is teaching, because God gave me the blessing of a good church at the right time, and because I was born into literacy.

I’ve been in Bible studies that addressed everything Surge is addressing. I’ve read books that addressed everything Surge is addressing. In fact, I’ve read my Bible, which addresses everything Surge is addressing.

There’s this passage in 2Corinthians 3 that’s been on my heart for several years now, because of the confidence I have in my spiritual upbringing. It goes like this:

2You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on oura hearts, to be known and read by all. 3And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.b

God has taught me what I need to know. He provided me with a foundation worthy of His calling – a foundation that not everyone has been blessed to receive. He granted me favor by, not only adopting me into a Heavenly family, but also by lending me an earthly family that revealed Heavenly mysteries.

That adoption is why I’m able to read Tim Chester’s book with a sense of, well… of course it’s about Jesus. That adoption is the reason I cognitively know the role of the law in my life (though my spirit oft needs reminding). It is the reason Surge is a refresher to me rather than something new and revolutionary (no pun intended… for those of you who know) and the reason I’ve read good books that reinforced the gospel foundation in which I was raised.

Often, when I’m making life decisions, or when I’m about to say something stupid, or chase the wrong man, I’m reminded that I am a “letter from Christ, delivered by” folks who toiled to give me a worthy foundation. It’s a lovely thing to know that who and what I become is important for more than just myself. I serve as a letter of recommendation, whether I want to or not, so when Christ seems distant or abstract and my faith is too small, I still have a reason to attain to be worthy of the calling of Christ. I still know that who I am and who I am becoming is something I owe. I was bought with a price on two levels. I was purchased with the blood of Christ, and I was purchased with the sweat of those who offered me unavoidable opportunities to stand upon the worthy foundation.

Because I think Dave and Lisa would want it included, the passage continues…

4Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Perhaps, somewhere down the road, I might be allowed to deliver a letter from Christ as well. Perhaps I’ll find myself a sufficient minister, who is allowed to participate in laying the worthy foundation for another. Perhaps…

No Obligation to Participate

It bothers me a lot when people try to persuade me to be photographed when I’ve expressed a desire not to be.

Don’t, “Come on, Katie!” me. Don’t put an arm around my shoulder and try to physically force me into your group photo. I’m coming to a point in life when I honestly might shove you off of me because I don’t think you have any right to try to physically force me to do anything. How did forced photography become a socially-acceptable thing? If you tried to physically make me do anything else, I’d probably scream, “Rape!” and be totally justified. So don’t touch me.

Also, have you noticed that the people who are most likely to try to get you into a photo are the ones you’ve just met? Really? I hardly know you and you’re putting your hands on me. “Not cool, Robert Frost!”

Now, okay, I get that folks think I don’t want to be photographed because I’m insecure about my appearance, which is the simplest and shallowest version of the truth.

The truth is that I am only insecure about the way I look when I’m inundated with photos of myself and others who are more photogenic/attractive than I am. Most of the time, I don’t have any clue what I look like, which seems healthy to me. I don’t know what so-and-so posted on Facebook, I can’t be tagged or even view photos on Facebook, and I don’t care. Nor do I want to care. I want to live in a time when mirrors don’t even exist. Because we are way too preoccupied with our reflections.

Also, people feel like I’m somehow missing out when I don’t take photos. Funny thing – I think they’re missing out while they are taking photos.

I honestly have the snarky thought pretty much every time someone takes a picture of anything, and it goes,

“Heaven forbid you experience this without documentation of it.”

“Heaven forbid your friends have to infer the extent to which you participate in life.”

“Heaven forbid you have to tell stories when your vacation ends.”

Yes, I am suggesting that the value of an experience doesn’t lie in another person’s impression of it, nor can the value be measured by the number of pixels in which it was captured.

I’ve not missed out on life. I’m confident of that fact.

I honestly have very little evidence that this life has bee well-lived other than the invisible happenings in my brain, but I suspect that most of the people who take photos of everything do so because they are not at all sure they’ve lived. Photos are this weird way of proving to self and others that things have happened and I was there to see it. Therefore, this life is worthy of… well, who knows what? – admiration?

That’s why I don’t want to be in your photo… because I don’t think you’re less likely to remember my part of the experience without the photo. If you don’t remember that I was there, then we probably didn’t share much of the experience, so why does it matter if you remember my part of it? I know I was there. I remember it. I lived it. Isn’t that enough?

Finally, your photography is obnoxious. It is. I want to look at the landscape. I want to feel the air. I want to enjoy the people.

And your photography gets in the way.

Staging some sort of pose is bullshit to me. What you’re doing is asking me to try to pause the un-pause-able, put my hand on my hip so everyone can see my physique at its best, and hope God is aware that we’re on pause and therefore, stops everything for this inauthentic moment in time to be recorded.

Leave me alone.

Let me look around and see.

Let me stand off to the side while you ensure your legacy. I’m already confident in my own.

The Glacier, the Lake, and Our Camp


Lori sent me this one, and I figured that even though it’s about time for me to look through all my photos from Peru, I’m far too lazy. Therefore, here’s one that I didn’t take, and I don’t think Steve or Lori even took it. In the upper-left quadrant, you can make out the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in real life, which is a lake formed by glacier water. The middle-ish is where we camped the first night of our trek. :-)

The Anthem of a Christian Life

During Ragnar Trail this weekend, I thought a lot about intentionality.

During every Ragnar, I intentionally drink more water than seems humanly possible. I eat and eat and eat… I might even feel pretty disgusted by food – like I’m going to throw up if I eat anything… and still, I shovel food into my mouth. I sleep when sleep is available to me even if I have to put back two or three Benadryls to make it happen. My clothes are packed in gallon ziplock bags that I label “Night Run” or “Camp Clothes” or “Backup Clothes,” into which, I carefully place everything I’m going to need for each part of the race… down to which underwears and socks (or no socks) are for which run. I get out of the sun when shade is available to me. I sit on the ground, because, regardless of what others are doing, it’s always wise to get off my feet in a race like this. I stretch. I wear compression socks between runs.

Needless to say, I attribute Ragnar success to intentionality.

Our teammates this weekend are not like that. They ran their first runs, then went back to the tent and drank a beer, which sounds like just about the worst idea in the whole history of the world to me, because I’ve seen more than a few people get rocked by dehydration during Ragnar. Just about the only things our teammates worried about was how many carbs they took in (wouldn’t want to get fat…), their makeup, and what their breasts looked like. They did things like finish an 8-mile run in the 90 ish degree heat, with no shade cover at. all. – a run they refused to carry water for… and they proceeded to sit down in the sun and not even sip water.

Now, let’s be fair to the intentionality before I tell you why intentionality can’t be the foundation of the race…

I have run 6 Ragnar Relays, mostly in the desert, without major incident, because intentionality definitely contributes to a well-run race. Other team members, who are far better runners than I will ever be, have needed someone else to pick up the last few miles of their runs. This is crazy because even having to walk the end of a run is shameful to runners. We even have a term for it; it’s called “balking.” Better runners than I have needed visits to the first aid tent during Ragnar. It’s not at all uncommon for people to throw up, walk 20-min-miles on completely flat surfaces, cry, etc… Because Ragnar is ridiculous. The fact that I’ve not severely inconvenienced my team is something with which I’m actually pretty impressed and surprised. The worst I can say is that I pretty much never help with the driving and might not even do a good job of supporting other runners. However, that’s nothing considering how constantly I expect this Ragnar to be the one where the shit hits the fan.

Because, here’s the deal, everything I mentioned about water, food, rest, etc.. is interconnected. When a person visits the first aid tent, it isn’t because he doesn’t drink enough water. It’s because he doesn’t drink enough water, so he gets overheated on his first run, and his body solves that problem with a quick heat purge.. he throws up. Then, he doesn’t think he should eat anything in case he throws up again, so he walks 20-minute-miles in his second leg of the race, because he doesn’t have enough calories in him to fuel a stroll around the neighborhood, much less a run in the middle of the night. Also his 20-minute-miles suck up his sleep time because his van spends an extra hour on the course; 20-minute-miles on a 6-mile-run generally adds an hour to our time, and more if the person expected to run faster than 10-minute-miles. Therefore, the other van gets extra sleep and may even try to make up that hour because all six runners are relatively well-rested and intentionally running slightly faster than their projected pace because they’re afraid the other van is going to also lose time on the 3rd leg of the race and they don’t want to have to finish the race super late. Consequently, our dehydrated team member ends up back on the course with less sleep than he would have had if he’d run his pace on the second run. Also, he’s felt really cold all night, because it actually is cold, and his body is jacked up, so he’s shivering even when the sun comes up… so he’s like, “Hey, the sun feels pretty amazing!” so he stands around soaking in the rays. Next, he starts his third run in the desert heat and obviously can’t finish. A teammate steps in and the other van picks him up and gets him to the first aid tent…

Had he intentionally pushed water from the beginning, pushing food wouldn’t have been as impossible, rehydrating wouldn’t have been as impossible, running the second leg wouldn’t have been as impossible, sleeping would have happened, standing in the sun would have seemed stupid, and he would have finished his third run.

So intentionality has its benefits.

That being said, intentionality is losing its standing just a bit in my book… it just seems like the Christian culture puts it on a pedestal that’s a bit too high.


I did my first Ragnar Trail race this weekend, and whilst running in the desert wilderness I learned a life lesson. Something from a sermon I heard a long time ago popped into my head; I don’t remember whose sermon it was, but it was about that passage that says, “Your word will be a lamp for my feet and a light to my path,” (Psalm 119 ish). In my brain, “word” is always a reference to John 1, and therefore reads more like, “Word,” (“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God; He was in the beginning with God…”).

I was doing my first run of the race, which was shockingly bad for a 5k. Running desert trails at night sucks kind of a lot. I pictured this race as the most magical thing ever, so maybe my expectations were too high. You see, I’ve recently become a pretty minimalist runner, which changes how wilderness running hits the brain. I never have a gps with me and I’ve given up mapping my runs. I just run until I don’t want to run anymore, then I walk home. I rarely know if I’m at mile 1 or mile 5 or whatever. Of course, I’ve developed a pretty decent intuition, but I’m definitely still surprised during a race almost every time I do(n’t) see a “1 mile to go” marker. Additionally, I don’t run with music and I’ve even made the switch to running in sandals rather than tennis shoes. I also refuse to take my phone with me anymore. Yes, that’s not safe… I know, but people have been running since before there were phones, so I’m not too worried about it. Last, but not least, I’m trying to replace synthesized nutrition during and after runs with whole foods.

That’s why trail running sounded about as amazing as drinking wine while reading a book sounds. Definitely not the same, but possibly the same level of pleasure.

I promise I’m not a granola snob and I promise running is still really hard for me. I still shave my pits and eat animal products. I sometimes won’t get off the couch to go pee because it sounds like too much work.

The running thing just fits with the personality quirk I have that I like to pretend I’m an Inca or possibly Greek messenger on my way to Marathon with tidings of war. Sometimes I imagine that I’m a tribesman on an endurance hunt, waiting for that gazelle to fall down and die. Other times, I like to be Frodo and/or Sam (depending on my self-image at the time), on my way to Mt. Doom to destroy the One Ring – yeah, I might not be a vegan yet, but I admit I’m a weirdo.

So, I intentionally run without much figurative or literal cushioning, because the antithesis of Incans, Greeks, tribesmen, and Frodo is someone with too much time and money, strapping on an Iphone, a heart-rate monitor, and a $300 pair of shoes designed by scientists in a lab, then trying to run faster than all of those other middle-to-upper class white folks who are bored of the board room. I feel like it should be a more organic part of life, where I’m running for a purpose that’s more than that… and I’m running with myself rather than hoping I won’t feel alone out there if I take The Fray or Eminem with me.


On this particular Ragnar run, I was reminded that I am a middle class folk rather than an Incan. You see, on my first leg of the race, there were way too many treacherous rocks, loose dirt, and up-down-up-down-down-up-down-up-up-ups. That kind of stuff doesn’t suck in the way a non-runner would think it sucks… ok, it sucks just exactly how you’d think it sucks, but it also sucks in a way you can’t imagine if you’ve never run trails at night.

As a first run of the race, 3.1 miles is nothing. It’s a warm-up. I remember when 3.1 miles on flat ground was inconceivable, so don’t take me as an elitest ass here, but when I’ve got 16 ish miles to run overall, 3.1 hardly registers in my brain as part of the race. I’m thinking about the 8.4 miles I have to run in the middle of the night with a wicked elevation gain. In fact, I’m thinking of that 8.4 miles before we even get in the car to drive for 2 hours to get to the start line. I’m thinking about the 8.4 miles the entire time I’m training (months in advance) because if I’m prepared for 8.4, I’m also prepared for 3.1.

So I hit the course that night, expecting to own the 3.1, and to suffer the 8.4.

That is not what happened.

That 3.1 felt an awful lot like a 5.5. Which is a terrible sign at the beginning of a race like this. Throughout the first mile or so, I worried about the 8.4, because a 3.1 that felt that shitty meant I probably wouldn’t physically be able to finish the race.

Additionally, the run that was supposed to be easiest was actually draining my mental fortitude because I couldn’t see far enough ahead to make out the bottoms or tops of hills. Had I wanted to see the top or bottom of a hill, I’d have had to stop running so I could safely move my headlamp away from the next few treacherous rocks to the top or bottom of the hill. Basically, I couldn’t ever figure out whether I could really let loose or should take it easy. This is a problem on a trail, because running too fast downhill is a good way to face-plant into a pile of rocks or a cactus, break a wrist trying to catch yourself, etc…  I’ve also learned that uphills are crucial, because it’s easy to lose a minute-a-mile on trails by walking the wrong hills, but it’s also easy to lose three or four minutes-a-mile by running up the wrong hill and having to walk flats for the rest of the race because you’ve depleted energy stores.

Just so you know, running 16 miles is pretty much the most excruciating exercise in the world if you can’t settle in with a steady pace. When you can’t figure out a strategy for attacking hills, or you can’t figure out how big your steps should be, it’s more of a problem than it seems like it should be because you can’t settle in… you feel every step of a race that requires a lot of steps. You can’t stop thinking even a little. It sucks.

When I wasn’t busy going up or downhill during the 3.1 miles, I was running in a wash. What I’m telling you is that on the flats I was running in fairly deep sand. It felt a lot like someone had strapped anvils to my feet.

That was when I was struck by the verse.

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Not only could I not see far enough ahead on the hills – I couldn’t see far enough ahead to know when that wash was going to end.

Therefore, it seemed appropriate that Psalm 119:whatever become the anthem of my run. At the start of most runs nowadays, my anthem is either, “Stay the pace and run your race,” or “Easy, light, smooth, and fast.” What that means is, when my brain doesn’t just naturally have something to think, I think that anthem over and over again until my brain takes over with something else. Having an anthem gives me something positive to focus on so I don’t have to think about the sand, the hills, the dark, my burning muscles or lungs, the jackass who just passed me doing 7-minute-miles in the sand, etc…

“Christ is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Even when I can’t see the top of a hill, He lights the next step or, if I’m lucky, the next two steps.

“You are a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

I finished the 3.1, and when folks asked me how it was, I was surprised that it honestly wasn’t that bad.

I went into the 8.4 expecting to walk nearly all of it. I thought I was probably going to take more than 2 hours on it, which is really slow, but the not being able to see where I’m headed at least a quarter mile in front of me slows me down a bit and is terrifying.

So I made the anthem of my previous run into the anthem of my race.

I don’t have any idea how long I took to finish the 8.4, but when people asked how it was, I was surprised again, because it was long, but gorgeous. There was some really pretty desert around me, and I even inexplicably settled in for the middle 4 miles or so, which is all I ever ask of any 8-mile run, and I certainly didn’t expect even that after my first experience with nighttime trail running.

About 10 hours later, I had a 4.something to run. This was the run our best runner had described as “the most technical,” which in trail-runner means up-down-up-down-down-up-down-up-up-ups with a crap-ton of rocks you’re going to have to jump over and a fair amount of loose sand.

My body at this point was doing well for a Ragnar, but prior to every third run in every Ragnar Relay, I’m preparing to feel more terrible than I’ve ever felt before. The third run of a Ragnar is when everyone walks except the skinny people who don’t even sweat when they run. It’s the great equalizer because the folks who do well on the third run aren’t necessarily great runners, but they are great sufferers.

So I went in expecting to run this one in an hour if I really pushed myself and more like an hour and ten minutes if I was suffering a little… way more if I suffered a lot. It was my only run of the race in sunlight, and it was getting toward the hottest part of the day. Runners who looked way more fit than I am were stumbling into the exchange and immediately lying down. Race volunteers asked everyone if they were okay as they finished their runs and the race announcer was adding in public service announcements about the dangers of running in the desert without water… even if there is a water station on your run. Also, one of my teammates had come in about 40 minutes after I expected him to be there, which was even after I mentally adjusted his projected pace for the heat and exhaustion I knew he was experiencing.

So I finally got out on the course, and passed a few dudes early on. It always cracks me up when that happens because a man has to really hurt to let a woman who weighs over 110 lbs pass him in a race. I figured those dudes would keep me in eyeshot for awhile and “zombie kill”me when the heat really got to me. I stuck to my anthem even though I could see the tops and bottoms of hills, and I actually didn’t even take advantage of the visibility; I hardly looked more than a step or two into the future, because each step has enough worries of its own.

And I didn’t see any of those dudes again.

Also, I started passing thin people, which is never something I do on a Ragnar. Actually, it’s not that I don’t do it so much as I really can’t.

That last run, which always absolutely rocks me… I usually text Lori mid-run to tell her how much slower than pace I’m going to be… this time, on a run that should have blown my knee, put me down for the count, etc… that last run ended up being my favorite run of the race and I finished it in just over 50 minutes.

Prior to the run, that time was actually a physical impossibility in my brain. That time meant I would have to beat my pace on the shortest leg of the race, which was also the only run for which my body and mind were fresh.

The only variable that changed between this Ragnar Relay and all the others when I felt terrible on the third run?

My anthem.

It’s all well-and-good to run the race trying to ignore all of the people who are faster than I am so that I don’t overexert. And it’s a nice idea to try to make running into something that’s easy/smooth/positive.

However, it’s something else entirely to take a race as it comes, and forget trying to make it into anything… to trust even the steps I can’t predict or control, and to entrust those steps to Christ when I could easily pick up the reins again because I can finally see where I’m going.

Becoming a minimalist runner is teaching me that God formed me with intentionality that I can trust.

I don’t need gps. Of course, one might come in handy at certain times, but the fact that others run with a gps doesn’t necessitate that I run with one, and God probably would have built one into my flesh were it a requirement.

I don’t need gu shots, and may even feel better if I put food into my stomach rather than gel.

I don’t need shoes with cushioning, and it’s insulting that folks think my feet are lacking in their design, and thus require corrective insoles. My feet don’t need to be corrected. God made them as they ought to be.

I don’t need an iPod.

I don’t even need a plan for every hill or valley… I only need the right lamp to me feet and light to my path. :-)