Making the Grade

I graded. All. Day. Long. I sat in the hunter green padded kitchen chair for at least six hours if not more, grading stacks of papers trying to close out the first quarter of the school year. Reports cards are due. I was happy doing my work, don’t get me wrong. I love my job more than words can express, but sitting in one spot for so long I knew I’d go nuts another minute longer.

Inspired by a friend, I decided to go for a run. Just what this sedentary body needed. I didn’t know how my body would respond. It was a trying week physically. This past Thursday I had memory loss and thought for a moment I was twenty again. I was on the asphalt playground with my 6th grade class playing football. With a jumping reach for a pass, I missed and the entire right side of my body planted into the asphalt. It was one of those moments you’re either going to laugh or cry. I laughed, got up and continued with the game. As the hours of the day passed and my students moved on to other classes, my body stiffened and by day’s end I limped to my car.

Now, Sunday, and walking much better with a bruised knee and sore hip and shoulder I wasn’t sure my body would be up for this run, but I went anyway. Parking at the Armagosa trail head, I decided I really am crazy. This is a rocky dirt trail that climbs up the hills on the side of Black Mountain. Another kind of grade awaits me. Yep, I’m nuts!

I walked fifty yards downhill, fast paced to warm up, and then off I went.  Changing quickly the path turns uphill. It is not a super steep grade at first, but then it climbs…up… with switchbacks, bends and turns.  My legs burned, as with each step I dodged rocks and holes. I pushed myself further up wanting to know what I was made of now after all the ailments, and injuries. Shockingly, I sailed up this hill. My lungs filled deep with air. I felt as though something were tethered to me ahead of me pulling me up further and further. I reached a peak, one of my favorite places to perch, and then went down the other side careful as not to eat the dirt while running down hill, (it’s happened before). Another hundred yards and then I head back the direction of the car but this time off the trail and onto some dirt that had been graded out of the mountain side for a housing development years ago. Only a slight down hill grade and much smoother footing, I picked up my pace. The car was getting closer and closer parked on the road but I wasn’t done. Now on the street one hundred yards from the car I did an about face and sprinted back up hill. I opened up sprinting fifty yards then jogging back. Sprint uphill, jog back, repeat. After three or four of these I decided it best not to press my luck though I felt I could do it all night long. With a swift walk downhill, I cooled down with a ten minute walk, still reeling with delight like a giddy school girl in love.

Some may think I’m crazy, but only runners will understand the “high” that comes from a running workout. I caught my breath enough to whisper out a “thank you Jesus.” I’m in awe of what my body is accomplishing right now. It was about a fifteen to twenty minute non-stop, rigorous mile and a half run. That is slow to some, very slow. But I am on cloud nine! I made the grade.  I pushed.  A month ago I didn’t even know if I would be able to run anymore, ever. I am thankful, so grateful for another chance to do what lifts my spirit and inspires my mind and soul and gives glory to my Creator if only with a whisper of thanks and praise.

Epilogue- It was the most intense of my runs yet this month, so much so I coughed all the way home in the car. I needed air and the inhaler was at home. After two quick puffs and an open airway, I celebrated my run with three slices of my favorite pizza and a long drink of water!



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