Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oxygen Debt

Breathing very, very hard and my leg muscles starting to feel fatigued, I finally reached the highest elevation of the  course after a 2 mile steep climb at 944 feet at the peak. That's an experience of oxygen debt.

It was a hilly pilgrimage run to Santa Maria Parish in Orinda, CA today. I was aware of the rugged terrain of Orinda but never set my running feet on it. So I ran and was overwhelmed by the precipitous hills. Each short hill just unfolded its steepness at each turn and every turn. I almost gave up. Although I was breathing in a lot, my body just couldn't absorb enough oxygen to keep up the demand of the uphill run.

But when your body gets tired, your spirit takes over. This is when I prayed harder and thought about the people who needed prayers. I thought about my brother who was admitted to the hospital for depression. I thought about my uncle who just passed away after struggling with lymphoma. I thought about his bereaved family. I thought about my friends who asked for prayers - for Lisa and Larissa who are training hard to complete their half-marathons and for Jay who needs the grace of health and stability at this time. I also thought and prayed for my son who is training hard to be a good basketball player for his high school team.

Before I knew it, I overcame the hills. But boy, was I breathing heavily. Thank you to the downhills at this time, they were helping me recover and "repay" my oxygen debt. But  most of all thank you, God for the strength to carry on.

Santa Maria Parish in Orinda, CA at Mile 6.2


  1. This post reminds me of St. John of the Cross' "Ascent to Mount Carmel".

    The road and ascent to God, then, necessarily demands a habitual effort to renounce and mortify the appetites; the sooner this mortification is achieved, the sooner the soul reaches the top. But until the appetites are eliminated, a person will not arrive, no matter how much virtue he practices. For he will fail to acquire perfect virtue, which lies in keeping the soul empty, naked, and purified of every appetite.

    ... Until slumber comes to the appetites through the mortification of sensuality, and until this very sensuality is stilled in such a way that the appetites do not war against the spirit, the soul will not walk out to genuine freedom, to the enjoyment of union with its Beloved.

  2. Thank you for your beautiful insight. Yes, praying while running can be looked at as an act of mortification. Running hard can be physically arduous and painful. Hence, offering this "suffering" for the sake of others can be a purifying experience for both the praying person and persons and souls being prayed for.