Three Days in Cowtown

Last week, I told my Ohio friends that I was going to be out of town for three days to run the Cowtown Half-Marathon. They asked, “Where’s that?”

I responded by saying that it was in Fort Worth. And they asked, “Where’s that?”

It’s in Texas. Near Dallas. Fourteenth-largest city in the United States (though I admit that I only learned this figure myself from the race packet that I picked up on Saturday). Forth Worth is not very well known to northerners because it tends to be overshadowed by its “twin brother” Dallas (ninth-largest city in the United States). But it’s a major city: bigger than San Francisco (#15), Seattle (#18), Boston (#21), or Cleveland (#52).

It also happens to be the metropolitan area where my brother, Jay, lives.

When I made plans to run the Cowtown Half-Marathon with my brother (in his first attempt at a big road race), I worried that it might feel too far, too full, in too short of a space. You can just feel the people and the money flowing through Fort Worth — like a lot of Sun Belt cities — these days. Being around a city like that can be kind of fun. But I was also concerned that it might feel too fast and full and frenzied. Fortunately, the effect of my three days in Fort Worth was almost exactly the opposite.

I got in before Saturday had barely gotten started. It was sunny and 57 degrees Fahrenheit, when our plane touched down around 9:00 AM. It was genuinely pleasant to just sit and wait for my brother outside of Baggage Claim. The sun felt so good after the winter in Ohio. And even after Jay picked me up and “the weekend got started” at his place, back in the suburb of Keller, that sense of sunshine and a serendipitous suspension of time continued to permeate the weekend.

We spent a lot of time just sitting in Jay’s back yard and talking. We ate a lot of good food. Walked his family’s dogs. Took naps. It was super low-key. Almost boring, at times. But it was really, really relaxing.

The race itself was fantastic. Seriously: one of the best-organized races I’ve ever experienced. The half-marathon course ran through residential areas, the historic stockyards, and the downtown business district. My race bib entitled me to two beers after the race and two race shirts! And best of all: I got to run along with my brother for his first half-marathon.

As great as the race was, though, the real refreshment came from the brunch immediately afterwards… the soak in the hot tub at the recreation center in Keller a little later… the massages that Jay and Brandi planned for us later that afternoon… and the Texas barbecue dinner that we had to finish the day.

I’m really glad I made space for this trip (and that Marci and the kids and the H2O Kent team and Jay and Brandi were also so accommodating). It was even more relaxing and refreshing than I had hoped it would be. I don’t know if I got any grand takeaway — other than refreshment. But that may well be takeaway enough. I appreciated the reminder to “Be still and know that I am God.” To remember, “You must not have any other god but me.” To “observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” — resting and finding renewal in the “Spring Slump” season, getting my emotional feet back under me after the rigors of Manmaker and the like.

I’m very thankful I had the means to take this trip, even if it might be hard to explain to others back in Kent. God knows what this trip has done for my soul, and that’s more than enough.

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