I do not come from a lineage of runners. Norris men don’t run. It’s pretty simple. All that changed this past weekend. I ran in a half marathon.
In case you have never run in a half or full marathon before, I need to fill you in on a couple of significant details.
1. The marathon world has its own sub-culture.
2. Everyone who races is skinnier than a vegan on a diet.
When we pulled up to the race, I immediately started sizing up my competitors. I told my brother, “I’m the fattest guy here. There are 2,000 runners here and I can’t find anyone in my weight class.”
My brother pulled a quick one on me. He said there would be Gatorade at the starting line and at each mile. The mile 6 water station was the first glimpse of Gatorade I saw. I could not feel my left leg, my lungs were on fire, and I was dehydrated. I asked the “Red Cross” guy, “Do you have any of those jelly beans that’ll give you energy?” He looked at me with zero empathy and said, “No.”
Some health nut looking guy offered, “We have some of these chocolate pudding packs but they are not good for you.”
I ate two of them and chugged 5 little cups of Gatorade.
It was in this moment that everything changed.
To my left, a guy came flying past me like he stole something. Big problem. He was fatter than I was. Something snapped inside of me. I told God right then and there I would do whatever it took to catch that fat rabbit.
Have you ever watched those racing greyhound dogs trying to catch their rabbit? For the next 7 miles, it was a battle between two guys that had tremendous passion but who looked more like Jr. High offensive line coaches than marathon runners.
At mile 9 I told Jesus, “This is the single fastest fat runner in America.” I could not catch him. Just then, he decided to walk. So I decided to walk. What happened over the next 4 miles would go down in the history books as the greatest thing that anyone with the last name “Norris” has ever done.
Over the last 10 weeks, I have been training to run this race in 3 hours and 30 minutes. For those trying to do the math, that is an extremely casual pace. More like trotting than jogging.
I knew on mile 10 I was in trouble because I was winded way more than I should have been. At mile 12 I finally conceded that I could not catch my rabbit. Then it happened. Fat rabbit got tired.
I’ve always wondered what one of those greyhounds would do if that fake rabbit accidentally fell off the rail it slides on. Would the greyhounds completely wig out and attack that rabbit like a hungry lion? For me, I seized my moment.
I passed fat rabbit and headed to my glorious victory. Then fat rabbit flew past me AGAIN. I hate admitting defeat. I can’t stand it when I’m playing golf and I realize I have no chance to win my match. It happens from time to time and the agony of defeat is great.
I could see the finish area coming up quickly and out of nowhere, a Pearl Jam song comes on my iPod. I came alive like a crazed lunatic. “Even Flow” sent my blood boiling with the passion of Usain Bolt. 200 yards from the finish line I caught my rabbit. With 30 yards to go, I passed him and crossed the finish line and was in shock when I saw my time. I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours: 43 minutes. I ran 47 minutes faster than I trained for. It was bigger than winning a Nobel Peace prize.
I was capable of more than I thought. I was tougher than I thought. I accomplished more than I thought I could. All because of being challenged by someone I’ll never even meet.
The rabbit pushed me beyond my expectations.
11 years ago, I snapped with my experience of Christianity. After reading the gospels and Acts; I refused to accept my mediocre lifestyle compared to what I had read. I wanted more of Jesus. He challenged me harder than I had ever been challenged spiritually. He said, “If you want to experience the Kingdom, come and get it.”
John 14:12 is no longer a sideline verse for me anymore. I want it. I want more. For His glory and fame. Desperation does not seem to move God but it sure moved me.
When we want Him and His kingdom more than we want our next breath, we will find it.