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Another year, another successful Run for the Kids!

For the sixth year running (no pun intended), Grace-In-Motion has hosted its annual 5k/10k race at the Palisades Interstate Park. With the help of 223 runners and walkers, 24 tireless volunteers, and several generous local sponsors, GIM raised over $21,700 for projects in Morogoro, Tanzania; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and right here at home in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Ready, Set, Grace!

Personally, I approached the race a little differently this year. I had spent the whole summer training for my first marathon on October 8 in Chicago. So from June through August, through the thick of summer, I was logging about 100 miles a month. But as it often does, life got in the way, and my training fell way behind schedule in September. I saw running the 10k at the GIM race as my chance to get back on track.

Race day itself couldn’t have been nicer. Blue skies, low humidity, and a clear view of the George Washington Bridge reaching over the Hudson—conditions were perfect. Most of my friends knew I was training for a marathon, so before the race I heard the same question over and over: “you’re running a marathon, 10k must be nothing for you, right?” I shook my head and tried to smile politely: “no, every race is difficult.”

And it’s true! Every race is difficult. Which is why running is so fun and challenging. If you’re racing one mile, then you better bust your ass for that one mile and cross the finish line sprinting, with the taste of blood in your mouth. If you’re running a marathon, you’re going slower, but you still want to reach the finish with absolutely nothing left in the tank, knowing you gave everything to each one of the 26.2 miles. The 10k is no different. It would be foolish to run the 10k at a one-mile pace, but it would be lazy to just jog through it. As Steve Prefontaine once said (apocryphally): “The best pace is a suicide pace, and today is a good day to die.” There is no easy race.

And sure enough, the GIM race felt like hell. I opened the race at 6:43 pace: way, way faster than I’m used to running. My lungs burned and my quads mashed into jello with each stride. I did my best to hang on to second place through the course’s massive hills, but at mile five, I blew up and two runners sped past me. I eventually jogged across the finish line in fourth place, finishing the 10k in 47:14 (7:37 pace).

I was proud of my time and effort, but as I watched the other runners cross the finish line with family, friends and coworkers, it became clear that my attitude toward race day was a bit narrow-minded.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Yes, I ran the GIM race hard, but what about the race the Bible calls us to run? I was only concerned about getting a good run in for my marathon training—but I neglected to invite even one person to the race, or tell any of my co-workers about the race when they asked about my weekend. This was hardly running my Christian life at a “suicide pace” or running “in such a way as to get the prize.” On the contrary, I selfishly turned my race day into just another training session, when it should have been about raising money for underprivileged kids in Tanzania, Thailand, and Teaneck.

The Race for the Kids was a great wake-up call for me in this way. It was a reminder that I can’t just coast through my Christian life, like someone meandering their way through a 10k race. Rather, I need to live each day with purpose, running hard after the Prize. Fortunately, with all the outreach programs Grace-In-Motion offers every month, it's not hard to find ways to do just that.

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