For the past several months I have been training to run in the Seattle Half Marathon. I use the term training pretty loosely because in the time that I began running, and the actual date of the race, my daughter was born, and I started grad school. So my schedule got pretty busy pretty fast, which made regular training a little bit of a challenge.
But I committed to run, to help send some girls in Kenya to a great school, and to give them a chance at a better future. So whenever I could find time for a run I would go. 3 miles here, 5 miles there, 10 miles was my longest run before race day.
I woke up on Sunday, confident that I could finish the race, but I didn’t know what kind of shape I would be in at the finish line. When we got down to Seattle Center and ready for the race my nerves began to ease up, and I got the nervous kind of energy that I have before I preach. I felt really loose, started trying to make jokes and goof off.
When we got in line for the race, my first mistake was starting to hard to fast. I was passing all kinds of people and I was swept up in the momentum of the crowd. It was an exhilirating feeling. We ran up 5th Ave, and when we crested the hill I looked out and saw thousands of heads bobbing in unison. It was like an ocean of people all commited to the same thing. Every race, age, body size was present in this race. Knowing that I was a part of something so big was an amazing feeling.
All throughout the course I knew that I wouldn’t be alone. I was surrounded by people who were a little better prepared and a little worse. Some walkers, some runners, some joggers, all of us were in this together. Knowing that kept me going. When I faced the hills I knew that there were others who were struggling, who were hurting, and together we were going to finish these hills.
There was community in the broken, the people who were struggling, were encouraged by those who were just a little stronger.
Coming down the home stretch my knee started to hurt so I was struggling to keep my pace. My thoughts were simple walk a little, run a little, walk a little, run a little. Take one more step, get to that light post, don’t think about the finish line, just get around that corner. One more hill, one more right turn and I was in the stadium and headed for the finish line.
As I was running I heard Kathy and our friend Emily cheering for me from the stands, I heard my name over the Loud Speakers, and I saw some friends from Cedar Park at the finish line who cheered me in. That last little bit of support helped me to find the strength to sprint to the finish line.
I did it. I finished the race, and I finished it well. There were challenges, there was pain, it took longer than I expected to finish, and some things that I didn’t expect, but I finished with a sprint. When Paul talks about running the race and finishing well, I understand exactly what he meant. My Half Marathon experience taugh me a lot about life and a lot about myself.
Immediately crossing the finish line I was glad it was over and felt like I would never do it again. Today I’m begin to feel a little different. I’m beginning to feel like I need these kinds of experiences to teach me.
So stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted if I’m going to do another Half Marathon.