...he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Matt. 3:12
When I run alone all night, it is a far cry from apocalyptic; although it may seem like it at 0300 in the morning. The loneliness only intensifies any suffering the body is doing and it is during these times that my mind is purified. In the words of the apostle Matthew, the chaff is burned up. My thoughts are turned to what is important and they come to realized that juice stains on the carpet brought forth by my three year old is not something to get upset about. The tiny fingerprints left by three kids on the computer screen, are not only temporal but trivial...that the soul is more important than the body and at this point the body is hurting. Running alone at night tends to cause me to reflect on these things.
So when I got an email from a fellow North Texas Trail Runner, Lynn Ballard, about an all night on Friday, running on some new trails...I responded, "I am in." It appeared that there would be a good group of us, but the previous days of a rain deluge left the trails unrunnable and the plans for the night run with the group to be rescheduled at a later time. Knowing Lynn was going to be running at some point on the weekend, I inquired of his plans. Partially because I needed to get a long run in and partially because I wanted to be held accountable. He responds, "Lets still run on Friday night. I got a 7.5 mile loop on the golf course. Meet at my house. Call me when you get in from the Bill Cosby concert...I will wait for you."
The week had taking it's toll both physically and mentally and frankly I was dreading this run....but I cannot leave Lynn hanging out to dry. At a 10:45 PM I call Lynn and tell him I am on my way.
The humidity had turned the warm Texas air into a sauna. Lynn and I look at each other and mutually say to one another, "let's get this thing done." Despite the humidity the chaff began to be swept from the threshing floor into the fire. But this time it was different. It was not from the pain or the loneliness, but from camaraderie between two guys running into the night. We begin talking about what is important...what is not....lessons learned from the four 100 milers Lynn has finished. (Lynn is training for the Hardrock 100 miler with no garantee he will get in...he is on the waiting list.) Lynn's 3 kids are grown and he is about 12 to 15 years further down the road than I am in that respect. We talked about what is important to impart to your kids, what running does for the soul. We talked about patriotic things, about spiritually things, about things that actually mattered. We talked about courage and heros. The kind of heros that give up their gunners' seat in a helicopter so that Lynn's uncle could get medivaced out of a hot zone in Vietnam. The chaff was burned.
From a long run standpoint, it was not my best run by far. I didn't go quite as long as I wanted and the humidity beat me up pretty good... the legs just didn't seem to have it. It still was on of the best nights of running.
Hopefully, Lynn gets into the Hardrock. If not, he will pace someone...probably through the night...it is best that way. The chaff will be burned. What is important will be left unquenched. Running does that...and so I run on!