by Rev. Jim Person

“But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children—”  Deuteronomy 4:9

I recently completed a 5K run.  Well, I can’t really call it a run, it was actually a run/walk.  To be honest it was a run/walk/gasp for air/contemplate quitting/try to survive.  In short, I had no business being out there with real runners, but there I was.  So, what triggered this physical fiasco?

My daughter, Sarah, has been bitten by the running bug, as I was when I was a little younger than she is now.  She recently ran The Great Race 10K (6.2 miles) in Pittsburgh.  In her Facebook post following the race she said, “After watching my Dad run it when I was little, the Great Race did not disappoint.”  Reading that post made me feel proud as a dad, but also made me reminisce about the days when I, too, was a runner.  I wondered how far removed I might be from those days.

About that time, I saw an online post for a “Couch to 5K in 10 weeks” training program.  Since my birthday was about 11 weeks away, I thought it might be a good time to see just how much fitness I had lost in three and a half decades.  I downloaded the program and immediately signed up for a nearby race to be held two days after my birthday so I would be committed to go through with the test.  As it turns, I should have been committed in a different way for thinking this was a good idea.  Ten weeks was not nearly enough time to make up for 35 years of little or no running and a weight gain roughly equal to carrying my two grandsons on my back!

To show her support, Sarah entered the race as well, which was nice but also meant there was no backing out.  On race day she, my grandsons Brooks and Teddy, and my wife, Marian were all there.  The run was six laps around a half-mile track.  Within the first quarter-mile my chest was tight, and I was struggling to breathe, which I hadn’t experienced during my training and so hadn’t expected on race day.  Not wanting to quit in front of my family, especially the boys, I alternated walking and running till I finally finished.  Sarah, by the way, finished in time to watch me run my last three laps!

Following the race, I posted in a Facebook group I belong to, “Be careful what kind of example you set for your children, it might come back to haunt you!”  In reality, though, I am glad that Sarah remembered watching me run and unknowingly called me out and prompted me to realize just how far out of shape I have gotten.  Next birthday I’ll be back on that track and, hopefully, doing much better.

We never know what our example might mean to the family and friends on whom we have an influence.  Our example of self-care as well as our care for others, might show up years later and remind us to renew our commitment to God, neighbor, and self.  Hopefully my humbling experience will be a lesson to us all that others are watching.  Be the example of what you want others to be.