It was my first trail run. I was running with a training group of runners preparing for the Portland Marathon. We went out for a “short” 12 mile run on the Wildwood trail in Forest Park, Portland. The beauty of the forest was only slightly marred by the fact that 90% of the trail was so muddy slipping and sliding was inevitable.
As I ran, I talked with others, and I listened to them talking to one another. That’s what got me into trouble! Two women were talking about their experiences on this trail. One said to the other: “I was doing fine, until I ran down this hill and ran right into a tree!” I confess. I thought to myself: “Stupid!” After all, how much intelligence does it take to look where you are going and not run into a tree?
The next week I went back to the trail, this time with two of my regular training partners. I was telling them about the conversation, and I emphasized the thought: “How stupid can you be?” We laughed, and ran on. About half an hour later we were charging down a hill (actually trying not to fall due to the slick mud!), and I was leading (they let me lead so they don’t go too fast!). With my eyes on the trail to avoid a misstep that would send my flying, I started to say something to one of them when something slammed into me. I was staggered, not to mention hurting. I looked up to find that I had run full bore into “The Tree”—a large segment of a tree that protruded out over the trail from the steep hillside.
I wasn’t laughing, but I think the Lord was. Immediately my mind went to James’ words: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6) and I immediately repented. The Lord (re)taught me three things that day: 1. Do not think too highly of yourself. 2. Do not jump to judgment of others. 3. Trees have the right of way!