What are you waiting for?


What are you waiting for?

by Patrick Reed

I’ll bet you are – like me – keeping an eye on the cars whisping by outside your front door — awaiting the good ole FedEx truck. Its patriotic white and red and blue – and green? – logo blurring past once again. And you are, clearly, hoping with me to hear its squeaking brakes and idling engine halt by your sidewalk. No worries that your cars are now hemmed in or that the rice and beans are gurgling over the now boiling pot. Your new race jersey is here — and in moments you can compare its real fabric in your hands with its cyber-sister, all pixelated and primped on the computer’s monitor, which snagged you and begged you tap in your credit card # and any other personal information requested of you. Anything to acquire that item. This time. Next week, it is true, all engines will be focused on yet another all-important package — coursing to your door by the magic of 21st century internet purchasing… But for now, only one package consumes you. Today’s.

My eyes and ears are fixed upon the opaque, bevelled-glass rectangles adorning our front door. And my item, this time, is not a blue-tooth heart rate monitor; nor is it a diaphanous, flowery patterned blouse to go with jeans for my wife (though that is no doubt a better option…) Instead, I await my racing jersey for this weekend’s 50k. Having met with members of FCA Endurance at last weekend’s Wildflower Triathlon, I immediately knew that I had to join up with their effort to answer the all-important but seldom enunciated question by all ilks of endurance athletes: Why do you race?

I was plenty familiar with FCA – the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, for I had been a “huddle” leader a decade ago when I was a high school Math teacher and cross-country and track coach at The Severn School in Annapolis, Maryland. FCA is a Christian organization which aims to share the Gospel (Jesus, perfect man and perfect God, died on the cross for your sins and mine and rose again, conquering death, to provide the way to eternal life for all who accept his forgiving work) with student athletes. So, I was excited to meet Chris Anderson and his colleagues last weekend and learn about their efforts to extend FCA’s reach to endurance atletes like me (and you!)

Immediately, I saw a deeper reason for my running. I could easily connect the dots and discern my answer to the question: Why do I race?

Sadly, for most of my life, I have raced with a singular, selfish purpose: to win for myself; to gain personal glory; to gain esteem and honor in the eyes of men; to shine for myself and to prove right the nay-sayers who said it couldn’t be done -not by me. When I truly broke it down, I raced with resentment and selfish ambition as my fuel. And every success I attributed to my own will-power, discipline, effort and desire. I was self-reliant, though I may have pretended convincingly – even to myself – that I had some other drive.

But there’s no getting around getting older — and slower. My 2:25 marathon pr and 1:05 half-marathon best will almost certainly stand as my lifetime bests. And now competition focuses less on overall place and more on age-group rankings. And so the question of “Why do I race?” echoes even more pronouncedly. FCA Endurance reminds me that the only reason for my racing is to glorify God — who has given me all: His Son, life, relationships, love, and the ability to run!


But back to the waiting game. Having allied myself to FCA Endurance, I ordered the jersey which I plan to wear this weekend. I want to clothe myself in my newly realized calling. And now I wait…

I wish I could say, as I bang out these last sentences of this post, that the doorbell has only just now rung — and that I must excuse myself and finish up this post another day — as what I have been awaiting has arrived.

Instead, the door ornament clanks again mundanely against the front panels of the door – brushed by the wind … and I am left holding only my imagination of my new gear.

No doubt, my jersey – and the socks I couldn’t help but throw in – will arrive before the sun is down tonight. But I am compelled to ask you a question in the meantime: What are you waiting on? What package is working its way to you? And why are you so excited about it? Is it simply the outlet of buying and newness? Or do you really long for something of much more lasting value?

It is said that we have eternity in our hearts. I believe this to be true — and I think such a realization, whether expressed consciously or not – is a bonding principle of distance runners and particularly of ultra runners. We strive to escape the mundane. We want discomfort. We aim for the pain of reality.

Though I am awaiting a thing of threads and logos and newness for a day, what I really would like to buy is freedom. Lucky for me that FCA Endurance points souls like me to both of these items at the same time.

Up — gotta go. There’s someone at the door ——

image credits: FCA Endurance