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Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Yesterday, I experienced true grace.

To back it up: last week, I really slacked on my training schedule for the half-marathon – meaning, I ran one time. ONE time! If I am hoping to run 13.1 consecutive miles in a few short months, then I need to keep up with the program. After such a lousy week, I started to feel like this whole running “thing” was not for me: there’s no way that I can do it – I’m not a natural runner – I’m behind on the training – I can’t catch up – I’m unmotivated – there went my $85 registration fee.

But never fear: as is becoming a regular occurrence, PZC to the rescue.

Paul called me on Sunday morning after I missed the group run, and said, “This is unacceptable. You haven’t even done your time trial yet. What are you doing tomorrow night? You’re coming running – no excuses.”

So Paul and Josh and I met at Centennial Park to do my time trial – basically, run as fast as you can sustain for 3 miles, which becomes a benchmark pace for other training runs. I hate to run fast, because what if my thighs rub together so much that my underwear catches on fire? Running fast equals being severely uncomfortable, and I don’t have a high tolerance for uncomfortableness; this is why I hate the beach (sand in all the wrong places), the wind (totally blows), Nashville summers (sweaty misery), and hangnails (self-explanatory). But Paul and Josh gave me a pep talk as we jogged to warm up for a half a mile, and told me that they would run with me at whatever pace I set.

So we started. I ran fast – a lot faster than I am used to running. The first mile and a half were fine, but when we approached the 2 mile marker, it felt harder to breathe. All of my childhood memories of asthma and panic attacks came racing back, and in a terrifying instant, I found my windpipe closing off – a purely emotional reaction, since my legs were keeping up just fine. I felt the same alarm that I felt on Mt. SneffelsI can’t breathe.

But Paul talked me down, and I finished the run, and Josh and Paul told me that I’m doing a great job. And although they could have abandoned me as soon as I started slacking with the training, they came back to get me and said, “We’re not letting you quit.” They stooped to my lesser level of fitness, and gave up what might have been a better workout for my sake. I don’t deserve friends like them.

But I’m so glad that I found them.

Thank you, Paul and Josh, for demonstrating grace in such a tangible way.