Yet another Saturday morning, another great morning for a run. Except this Saturday, May 4th, I would be allowed to run in another race. I do not write the word allowed lightly because as anyone can testify, simply to be ABLE to run is a gift in and of itself. Simple fact is bodies do wear down. This feat defies time. It defies logic. In fact, I dare say this feat starts first in your mind, then your legs simply obey… mostly.
For me, this particular race had me backtracking…. in my mind anyway. For this race, run in the streets of Columbus, was the first first time I towed the line for a long-distance event ever, seven years ago. It’s been a privilege to run this one every year since. And not only did the day bring about perfect weather conditions, but I was privileged to experience yet another start with a friend who’s “run alongside” me in various ways for over six years now. You cannot actually see her giant-sized heart in that lean and healthy body of hers, but I’m telling you, not sure how it fits in there. She has a heart of a champion, not only in her hard work efforts, but more importantly in her compassion and generosity for others. To many more years my friend!!
I could share many memory-pictures of today. Some have meaning to me alone, some have a greater meaning to us all, some just celebrate the family-hood that comes from enduring the hard and cheering on it’s members. I simply share so that I can remember. I want to remember these lessons to share them with my children. I want to remember because when things get hard again (and they will), I want to trace His faithfulness, His strength, His lavish love.
And it was for this reason that I have one crystal clear memory. It was mile 7. My mind celebrates the past-half-way point, but my body begs to differ. In the excitement of race day, in the flow of being surrounded by the mass of others, I run faster than my typical pace. And in that excitement, I start to think about numbers. And when I start to think about numbers, that becomes my focus. And the mind games begin. I really don’t want to settle there, but in the flow it happens. And so, just ahead, I see a sign. It’s held up strong and high by it’s owner. It has three simple words written on it. And it rocks my thoughts.
Run For God.
That’s it. That was this is all about. That’s why I began, that’s why I continue. I run – FOR God, BY God, IN God. And my countenance shifted. And the sun seemed a little bit warmer, and the sky appeared a little bit bluer, and the breeze was a little bit cooler, and my smile was a little bit wider. Pain? Yep, still present. But therein lies a blessing in pain, it’s a reminder of the work I’m putting in. Work that is worth it each and every time. So much so, that I keep on working, until He tells me otherwise.
And I finish. And I celebrate with my family who have come to support, and friends who have traveled the journey as well. I also celebrate those who have finished this course for the very first time, with a story each their own. And I receive a medal that serves as marker #19 in my count of half-marathon races. And I cherish this day to honor my God who has blessed me beyond what I deserve. And I return home to a full family day that includes shopping for and planting flowers with my girls, hearing my boys talk about their games of pick-up basketball, and jumping on our bikes for a ride to DQ, and my heart is full.
And to top it off, I receive an email from Cap City. I hadn’t seen a time of 1:52 in quite awhile. I was happy with thinking I hit the 1:53 range, because for a long while I couldn’t break the 1:54 mark. And what number did I see flash across my iPhone screen?
1:52.59 Boom! I celebrated like a 2 year old on Christmas, just God and I in that moment. So fun. I’m so grateful.
And through our current family situation, His words ring loud and true:
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
May we all continue to remember. Thank you Jesus.