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Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Finish Line

"I can do all things through Christ who gives strengthens me." ~Philippians 4:13

Today has been one of the most emotional days I can remember, and I can't help but wonder: do other people feel like this when they run their first half marathon or am I a complete mess? Either way, I'm OK with it because it has been an amazingly cathartic experience.

The "Go Commando" race took place in Clarksville, TN, which shares Ft. Campbell with KY. I was born on this Army base and this was where my dad spent the last few years before he retired from service. Maybe that's what started the emotional outpouring. Before the pistol shot to start the madness, some beautiful voice sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." That's when I started trying to hide the tears. What a baby, right? I couldn't help it, though.

So the race starts, and I can't stop crying. There's a physically disabled man who starts ahead of me, and I'm amazed and blessed that he's attempting this (he finished before I did, by the way). As I'm shuffling along, I'm staring at the back of an elderly man. His shirt tells me he's a Vietnam Vet-- it has two crossed rifles on it and it reads "In 1969 this is the only Woodstock I remember." I love it, my dad would've loved it. I'm looking around at the people who are competing in this and I start to feel this beautiful sense of community. I am not one of the "typical" running types who is stick thin and solid muscle. Quite the opposite. And I just started trying this whole running thing a few months ago, but it's OK because anyone can do this and we're all going to finish. Even me.

The crowd starts to thin out pretty soon and I am on my own (mainly because most of the crowd is ahead of me), so I start my conversation with God. All week I've been concentrating on Philippians 4:13, so I started saying it out loud. And I start thinking about all the people who, for whatever reason, cannot do what I am doing right now. God has blessed me with physical strength and health and I have squandered it for too long. I am truly sorry, Lord. What a poor example I have been to my own children, and what a horrible steward of Your gifts. And then? You guessed it-- I cried. I thought of all my attempts over the course of my life to lose weight and "get fit" and they were always for all the wrong reasons, and every time I failed. It was always to glorify myself, never to keep myself healthy so I could carry out the plan He has for me. At that moment, God gave me this: Hebrews 12:1 "So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that just won't let go. And we must run the race that is ahead of us." So I did and I will. I have spent too much of my life doubting myself and not allowing God to work through me, not just in physical terms, but in all aspects of my life. Shameful, yes, but I feel like I ran that out today. It feels good.

My goal for today was to finish before the time limit and I did. It was glorious. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. I got soaked (it rained almost the entire time), I got cold, and at about mile 10 I got tired of running and had to walk for the rest of the way. But I finished. And I got to spend some priceless time with God who taught me some pretty incredible lessons about myself. I am sore and as I'm writing this I am still teary-eyed, but I've honestly never felt better.

My sweet, supportive husband completed his first half marathon today, also.
And these are my super-cute babies sporting their medals for completing the Fun Run.
A good day, a very good day.