Thursday, February 12, 2009

On Slaying Dragons

A few months ago, I was invited to join a group of gals who run around Madison. I welcomed the new routes, new conversations, and the new friendships this group provided. Upon joining this group, I was immediately introduced to “the dragon”. The dragon is a steep, winding hill that runs up Rainbow Mountain. I guess it is a little less than half a mile long, but I could be off.

There is also what has been newly dubbed the “little dragon”. This one is very short and very steep. We pass the little dragon on our way to and from the big dragon, and so of course we have to run it each time. I’m not sure if it began when Courtney decided to run back up the little dragon one morning, but rarely do we ever run it just once before and after. Now it has almost become a game to see how many times we can get our legs to carry us up and down the little dragon, after tackling the big dragon.

Yesterday morning, three of us met early with a plan. We decided to attempt the big dragon twice. When 2009 arrived, I made the goal to run up it 5 times and so decided I’d better get started on that. We ran up the little dragon once, the big dragon twice (with legs screaming and lungs threatening to explode) and then finished ourselves off with 3 times up the little dragon.

I felt great afterward, like I could conquer anything I decided to conquer. We’d decided not to attempt 3 times up the big dragon until after we’d run our marathons in March, but I was already thinking about it anyway.

This morning a friend from Athens joined us and she, of course, wanted to do the dragons. So off we went. We decided to do a 2, 2, 4, which meant we were adding a little dragon to the beginning and the end of the workout. My legs groaned as we began our accent up the little dragon and I wondered how they were going to handle a repeat of yesterday’s big dragon achievement.

As we were headed up our first climb, Madelyn yelled out “amazing” (I think). Kristi responded with another term beginning with a b. I was sure we were playing some sort of game, but I had no idea what. I just needed to breathe. Madelyn was in the lead and she yelled back to me, “Jane, you have the C.” I asked what we were doing and Madelyn responded that we were describing Jesus. I yelled, “caring!” and we continued up the hill.

Amidst trying to breathe, getting my legs to climb up the hill, and doing my ABCs in my head, I thought about Jesus. Faithful. Loving. Powerful. Wonderful. These were words I came up with as my arms pumped, my lungs pushed, and my legs pressed on up that hill.

And then we were there. We ran around a cul-de-sac, allowing our legs a brief reprieve from up or down and then headed back down the dragon to do it one more time. I was surprised that I didn’t feel as tired as I had the day before, and I really didn’t mind heading down in order to head back up.

This time we were mostly silent until Kristi yelled, “A fit woman is a powerful woman!” Madelyn responded with, “A spiritually fit woman is a phenomenal woman!” I laughed to myself as I guiltily thought, a woman who eats cookies needs to run this hill again. Madelyn said something else about being prayerful (I think) and then, once again, we were at the top.

We continued running until we reached the little dragon once again. My legs were really on fire by this point and I thought there was no way I had four repetitions of this dragon in me. Kristi told me otherwise, however, and with her encouragement, I made it up and down 5 times.

With dogs barking in the yards around us (and their owners probably cursing our existence) we made our way gratefully back to our meeting place doing the “Alice in Wonderland” on the way, which is a beautiful path through the woods, especially in the moonlight that guided us this morning.

We hugged, said our goodbyes, and headed home. I took Chance to the backyard to do his business and watched the glow of the horizon as the stars began to fade, and I thought about our run.

Breathing in the cold morning air I thought it would be a lot easier to slay dragons whether running or not, if I kept Jesus on my mind. I thought about these new running friends of mine, the new routes and dragons we conquer together. I thanked God for my desire to run, which has brought so much joy to my life with each step and each mile. Even the joy of slaying dragons.

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