When I first started running cross country, I used to do something that caused coaches and more experienced runners to shake their heads, perhaps even chuckle. I used to start my races out very fast. Once, at the Woodbridge High invitational, I even kept pace with Jordan Hassay for about 600m! My coach tried and tried to convince me to run a more evenly paced race. " Slow it down! Don't kill yourself in the first half mile, you'll run a much faster race if you slow down that first mile." she repeated again and again as I went from being a freshman to a senior. I never did quite get the message.
Last year, in my third year of racing at the collegiate level I finally started to get it. If I was confidant, and didn't allow myself to be pressured into a pace that was much too fast for me to handle, I would give a beautiful performance, and run a stronger better, sustained race. I think too, that understanding pacing contributed to my love for the sport. When I paced myself, I wasn't suffering throughout the whole race. Certainly I felt fatigue, but there were these incredible moments where I felt like I was flying, like I was meant to be where I was, like I had an awareness of and control over my body that I simply didn't have ordinarily.
This season, though I have not yet raced, I have already made the mistake of starting out too fast. After a blissful summer and long transition phase in which I took on part-time work ( I like to think of this time as my pre-race warm up), I decided it was about time I started making the big bucks. In addition to my job as Chandler High's head coach I took on a 15 hour/ week job as a media specialist for the City of Casa Grande. After a long first day working both jobs I came home to the joyous ( sarcasm) news that my substitute clearance card had finally arrived. Now I tried furiously to work out a schedule in which I could sub several days a week on top of the other two jobs. I hit a lowpoint on Friday, when both jobs required me to work outside of normal hours. As we drove to Chandler ( my sweet husband tries to make as many of my cc practices as he can) I whined despairingly to Justin that this was ridiculous, that I felt terrible, that I was an inadequate excuse for a human being. "It's not really a big deal", said my ever-calm husband. " so what if he's mad?" I heaved in a angry, rattling breath " So what if he's mad?!? Justin this man could fire me if he wanted to!"
Justin looked at me with those eyes of his and said quietly and seriously "So."
I'm pretty sure Justin is an old soul, a 25 year old just shouldn't be that wise.
The fact is that Justin is right of course. So what if I make a mistake or get fired. Really, in the long run, how much will that matter? The situation reminded me about a talk by Hugh Nibley , entitled "Work we must, but the lunch is free" Nibley talks about our tendency to spend the majority of our time and energy working for our lunch. How many hours a week do we spend to put "bread on the table?" For Americans, that number has been steadily increasing , despite our predecessors making the projection that American's would be able to cut back on hours and enjoy more leisure time by now.
The problem is that our lunch box is ever expanding, and we are spending more and more time trying to fill it.
*The average American these days is not happy with the comfortable one story her/his parents owned. Media portraits tend to lead us to believe that the "average" American should have much more than is financially feasible. Take the show Friends , for example, a group of young inconsistently employed single adults living in Manhattan in that size apartment , expressing little concern for impending bills? Seeing this, perhaps we feel that we cannot rest until we have our perfect place , our giant apartment with Pottery Barn furnishings. Perhaps we feel that squeezing in a 60, 70, or 80 hour week is perfectly normal, so long as we are putting "bread" on the table.
Nibley suggests, however, that this attitude is contrary to gospel principals. "[The idea that there is]"No free lunch" easily directs our concern to "nothing but lunch." The
Adversary keeps us to that principle, making lunch our full–time concern
either by paying workers so little that they must toil day and night
just to afford lunch (his favorite trick), or by expanding the
lunch–need to include all the luxury and splendor that goes with the
super–executive ... lunch,"
These thoughts lead me to one of the most important skills to master as a runner. Running the right course. I have been sprinting around in circles without progressing toward the finish line. I have been working hard and long for money, and neglecting the things that really matter; my God, my husband, and my eternal progression. I want to start living my life the way it was meant to be lived, according to my Heavenly Father's will and progressing toward being like Him.
I don't think I need to quit my jobs in order to make this happen, but I do need to shift my focus, worry more about how I am treating my husband rather than what my boss will think of my best effort. I trust that as the "lilies of the field" I will be fed and sheltered gloriously, so long as I am striving to achieve my eternal purpose.
* I am working on citing this.
I was inspired to write this post by this talk by President Monson, who I believe to be a living Prophet.