Running in a Street Gang
Joseph was one of my best friends in high school. Joseph and I got into a lot of things when we were in high school. Once, we were even members of a Mexican street gang. I bet you didn’t know that one about me.
Actually it was homecoming week during our junior or senior year at Parkers Chapel and each day was a different costume day. Camo day, Blue and white day, Come as you are day. Since whitey tighties aren’t exactly compliant with school dress code, I don’t think we participated in that one. However one day was Twins day. We chose to go as Mexican essays. I’m pretty sure it was Joseph’s idea.
It was epic. I’m sure there are pictures somewhere and if I find any, I’ll update this post. We donned bandanas on our heads and wore blue plaid long sleeve shirts with only the very top buttons fastened. Underneath, we wore white t-shirts. Although, I can’t remember maybe they were wife beater shirts instead. You know what I’m talking about? Those white cotton tank tops. Every wife beater featured on Cops is guaranteed to be wearing a wife beater tank top.
“Bad boy bad boys. What you gonna do when they come for you”
The costume was completely out of norm for us as well as the school with very few hispanics in the area. Especially back in the late 90’s. Its a small rural school that is consistently ranked within the top 10 schools in Arkansas. Inner city gangs have never existed there and likely never will. It was also out of the character for us because we were both good students who were never really in trouble for much of anything. We weren’t thugs at all. We were instantly the talk of the school that day. A vote was held each day to decide who wore the best costume. As I recall, we won by a land slide. The only thing is, apparently since we were “gang related”, some of the teachers disqualified us. We got the shaft. You’d think that especially in a rural school with absolutely no history of gang anything that our sense of humor would have gained us extra points, but apparently that didn’t pan out for us. Regardless, we had fun and we always knew we were the true winners.
My esé Joseph got me into running as well. Joseph was a top athlete. We both played basketball all the time, but Joseph played a lot of basketball and ran like forest gump. But to me and my family, Joseph was more than a friend, he was essentially a ministry. I knew Joseph’s home life wasn’t the best and I knew that he struggled with some issues. I didn’t know every detail but I knew he ran as a way to vent stress. Regardless of what issues were going on, I wanted him to know that Jesus loves him and so do others. So, along with all of the other high school shenanigans we found ourselves in the middle of, we ran. Joseph may disagree, but I wasn’t in horrible shape. Still, Joseph was in a lot better shape and would run circles around me.
As people do, our high school days ended and our college years moved us to different places and we sort of drifted apart. We still talk occasionally, but we just don’t see each other that often. However, I think about the good ole days running with Joseph almost every time I run.
Running with Jesus
Like Joseph, running became my stress reliever. The more I ran, the more I actually grew to enjoy running and I’ve run in numerous 5Ks and a few 10Ks over the years. Although I like to run, I’ve never been a die hard fitness freak. I know there are obvious fitness and health benefits to running that should be my motivation, but for me, running is normally just a stress reliever more than part of a fitness goal. Sometimes I run with other people, but more often than not, I find myself running alone.
To me, running is a great time to just put some good music on, get alone, and talk to God about what ever seems to be going wrong in the world. When I have my “quiet time” with the lord, and just study his word, I often get distracted. My ADD works hard against me. But when I’m running, I’m doing something. I’m not trying to just sit still. Essentially, God has my undivided attention as I pound the pavement.
One song that keeps popping up on my play list as I run is Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) by Chris Tomlin. Now, to be honest, its a little slow for running music, but it keeps popping up and its such a good song that I just let it play. If you’ve never heard the song, Check out these lyrics:
My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures
With lyrics like that, its hard to keep worrying about the problems found in this life. “My chains are gone” Wow! You can’t run if you are bound with heavy chains. You can’t run life race if you are bound by worry and guilt. “My God, my Savior has ransomed me” I’ve been lucky to have very little personal financial debt. I’m not wealthy either but the sin debt that we all owe is like each individual person having to pay off our national debt. Currently thats over $18,251,122,000,000. Talk about a bail out. Even bill gates can’t swing that kinda cash and Jesus paid it all. “the Lord has promised good to me”. No matter what issues you are facing. God has promised that if we will remain focused on him, he will give us the desires of our heart. Now that doesn’t mean we are supposed to get stupid and give all of our money to Joel Osteen or some other greedy televangelist. But it does mean that if we keep running the good race, and God is our focus that our labors are not in vein.
As you can see, running is a great way to relive stress and refocus on whats really important. You just need to get out there and run. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
Peaks and Valleys
I lived in North West Arkansas for 6-7 years and Fayetteville, AR has some great places to run. There are trails all over the place and lots of them have great scenery. Both natural and man made features throughout the area just make the trails and parks a pleasure to run and that doesn’t even include all of the pretty college girls out running. They say God blessed Texas, but I swear all of those angels go to college in Arkansas. (WooPigSooie)
The climate is phenomenal in NWA. It gets hot there during the summer, but there is usually a breeze blowing and the humidity is much lower than that found here in south Arkansas. After I moved back to south Arkansas, I just got out of the habit of running. I’ve been pretty hit or miss at running for the last couple of years. Even though I began running in Parkers Chapel, I just found running a lot more boring after moving back down here. I also wasn’t under the stress that i found my self in while working in NWA either so I didn’t need the stress relief. Regardless of the reasons, I just lost my enthusiasm for running.
Get Fit to Hunt
Last fall, I got back to running a little. I turned 35 in November and I was determined to run 3.5 miles on my birthday. I made it happen. Now, I can’t say it was graceful and I had to walk part of it, but I got through it. After that, I got busy with hunting season and didn’t run anymore all winter. A friend of mine asked me to go running with him before turkey season started. So, I did. I could barely make 1 mile. Its amazing how fast my cardio level had dropped. I was pretty disgusted, but not defeated. I didn’t really make time for running for a few weeks during turkey season. I spent a couple of weeks in texas and It seems like we walked a thousand miles out there, but no time for running then.
Sometimes it does’t seem like it, but fittness and hunting are closely related. Now, in the south where the opening day of deer season is a national holiday, fitness and hunting don’t really seem to go together. But in mountainous country and especially out west, fitness and hunting go hand in hand. As I’ve gotten more and more involved in the world of Outdoor videography, I can definitely see the need to maintain a higher level of physical fitness than the average redneck. Its one thing to sit in a deer stand snacking on honey buns all day, but its another to try to keep up with a pack of squirrel dogs in the hills of the Ouachita mountains while toting a camera, get good video that isn’t shaky from deep heaving breaths and without hearing those breaths over the audio. Yes, that happened this spring. The video looked like it was filmed during a tornado and I was sucking wind like a tornado too.
I don’t know what hunts and events I’ll get to film this fall. I’ve applied for my Arkansas elk permit. I apply for it every year and haven’t been drawn yet. The odds are tough to get drawn, but hopefully I’ll get the chance to do some elk hunting this fall. Weather its in Arkansas or colorado, if I do get to take part in an elk hunt this fall, all of this running will come in handy. To prepare for it though I’ve got to get back on the top of my fitness game.
Over the last month or so, I’ve been using one of my favorite iPhone Apps called MapMyRun. Its great because it uses the GPS in your phone to keep up with your run stats. At the beginning of the year, I was barely able to run a mile. Jump forward to today and I ran 4.1 miles at a 9:45 pace last week. Its a long way from my peak 5k time of 19:56, but I’m not 20 years old anymore either. I also like the app because it gives you voice updates through your headphones while your listening to music. It tells you your current distance and pace to keep you on track.
Right now, I’m looking for a couple of fun 5Ks and maybe a 10K to run in the coming months. There is a fun run this weekend in El Dorado, AR called the Glow For Children’s 5K. Proceeds benefit Arkansas children hospital. It should be a fun one to do and its definitely a good cause. As I understand it, this is a FUN run. Its heavy on the fun. You can run, walk, jog, or dance if you want to. You can be as serious as you want to be but don’t take yourself too serious. Essentially, the race takes place at night and at different points during the race, instead of handing out water, you get splashed with colored glow in the dark water. If you are in the area, come join me.