Monday, July 27, 2009

God on the Greenway: Race Day

I had been thinking about running my first 5k for quite some time. Yet, I was still unsure. I didn’t know if I would really go through with it or not. I wasn’t too interested in competing and I’ve never been the athletic type. I just run and do my best on the Greenway for exercise and that’s it. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to pay $15 to race other than to say, “yeah, I did it.” Though, I thought it might be interesting to do it and then race again next year and compare my times to see how far I had come. Additionally, I thought there may be other benefits that maybe I couldn’t see. Maybe this running chunky girl would inspire someone else to get up and get moving. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that I would have laughed at you at the mere mention of running or racing. Yet, here I am! Little by little, I had built up strength as I have been fueled by Christ. All glory belongs to HIM! I would make sure to credit Him with any success I achieved during the race. If God is glorified then it would be so worth it!!

For a few weeks, I had been timing myself on the Greenway and pushing hard during the three miles. My best time was a few seconds over 35 minutes (which is what I hoped to get on race day). Though, most days, it was usually a minute or two more than that (still, it was better than forty or more minutes in the past!). All the while, I had been pondering this verse from 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” No matter what, I was going to run my best; even if I wasn‘t winning the top prize. My “best” clocks in differently each time, but I’m still giving it my all. That’s how I planned to run the 5k - just giving my best and NEVER quitting!

Even though I made up my mind to do it, it still didn’t regis ter in my mind until I signed up and paid my fee two days prior to the race. “Well, I’m really going to do it,” I thought. Sometimes after a big decision, you almost immediately want to change your mind and back out. I think the majority of the time, it’s just Satan’s attempt to discourage you. I resolved to stay committed to the step of faith I had made and giving God the glory for it all.

Race day came, and I was just wowed by the turnout! Not only were there over 400 people racing, but there were LOTS of people watching!! I put on my number and fixed the microchip onto my shoe. Then, when it got close to race time, I went to the starting line to wait with the hundreds of other people. I was at the front, but I knew it wouldn’t stay that way for long. My prayer was that at the very least, I wouldn’t be dead last!

It was actually rather breezy and cool; and it sprinkled a little bit. I almost hoped it would continue because you heat up quickly when you run. However, the cool rain didn’t stay (it never does!). Well, at least it wasn’t blazing hot!

Next, before I knew it, a guy came up and everyone started saying, “Shhhhh….oh….are we starting?” Then, the guy said “go!” and we all took off. I didn’t even have time to think or get nervous because I didn’t even realize it was time to run yet! I think most of us were taken by surprise!

It felt like the running of the bulls or something! It was just a massive crowd dashing down the street and around the block. It didn’t take long for me to fall behind most of the people. I might as well have been standing still as people rushed by! I had my iPod on and was listening to Jeremy Camp sing “Trust in You”. It reminded me to trust and not be afraid (or discouraged either). I had created a “All Things Through Christ” playlist of songs, and I picked that one first because I knew that I would need that reminder right off the bat. I was getting passed and that was ok. I was still going to give it my best; and everyone’s “best” is unique. I was trusting that the Lord would get me through.

There were a couple times where a lady behind me passed me. To me, she looked heavier than I was. I thought to myself, “She’s bigger than me! I’m not going to let this chunky girl pass me!” So, I sped up and passed her. Later, she passed me. I think it happened a couple different times. The last time she passed me, I just couldn’t catch up. I knew my pace had slowed, and it was taking me too long to get my “second wind” (as some people call it). I thought maybe towards the end, she would slow enough to where I could catch her again, but it never happened.

The race was getting tiring, but I managed to pass a few other ladies when I got passed again (if they hadn’t stopped to walk, I might not have been able to!). As tired as I was, I never stopped running (even if my pace varied). There was a couple times I got a cup of water from the volunteers on the road, but it’s hard to drink when you’re running (even more so when it’s sloshing out of a cup).

The race was almost over and I knew that I wasn’t going to catch up to the “chunky girl” (hey, I don’t know what her name is…and like I said, I know I’m chunky too!). So, I resolved to at least beat “the girl in the red shorts” that I was either passing or lagging behind at different points in the race. So, maybe I was starting to appreciate the competition. ;)

I got ahead of her, but she wasn’t far behind me. I knew that the possibility existed that we might be making a dash for it. I prayed as I got several hundred feet from the finish line, “God, this is where I really need you to come through for me.” I remembered how God loves to “show up” at the last minute. He loves to show that the impossible is possible; that dead people can be raised, sin can be conquered, and “chunky girls” (like me) can run like the wind when motivated by Christ! I was now listening to “No Matter What” by Jeremy Camp. I’m glad I included that song in the playlist because it really was a good boost.

I was really wearing out, but I kept running. Then, as I came closer to the end, I could vaguely hear that “the girl in the red shorts” was catching up. I kept thinking, “Don’t look back!” I never did. I just ran like the dickens! I heard someone (it sounded like a little boy) say, “Look! They’re sprinting!” That triggered me even more!! I hurt SO BAD and I could barely breathe, but I sped up even more! I felt like lightning! “The girl in the red shorts” was still going too! At one point, I felt like we were elbow to elbow and she was nudging me. Though, I can’t tell for sure, because I had tunnel vision. I didn’t look at anything other than the finish line. The contact that I felt (whether it was her or what) only made me run faster until I ran across the finish line, stopped, and let out a loud groan! I was dizzy and slightly nauseous and was trying to catch my breath as they removed my microchip.

All around me, people were congratulating me. I pointed upwards and said as best as I could, “All things through Christ…’s…not me!” It was truer than ever, because that whole race was beyond my strength (especially the very end!).

I checked the printout (and on the website today) to see how I finished. I beat “the girl in the red shorts” but just barely! It was a .4 second difference!! My time was 36:46.6 and hers was 36:47.0. Turned out that she was one of the girls in my age group. I was 44th out of 47 in my age group and 389th overall. God was gracious to me and did not let me finish last! I would have liked to do even better, but I DID do my best (and probably even beyond!). HE did it all! It wasn’t luck, chance, or anything that I did. It was all Jesus Christ! He is my motivation and HE carried me through!

This was such a good experience! I did something that I never thought I would have the desire or motivation to do! As I have said before, I never even tried half as hard in gym class when I was in school (and weighed much less). Several of my teachers saw me run, and it was all the more special for me. Though, more than the praise of my former superiors (as well as my family and friends) the glory of God and making Him proud is the greatest honor!! I even feel as if I have a fresh understanding of how the first are last and the last are first (Matthew 19:30). Almost everyone finished ahead of me, but I don’t feel like any less of a person (even though there were fifty year olds with better times than me lol. And no offense to you awesome people over fifty! Rock on!). The winner finished in less than 16 minutes (which means he ran three times faster than me). The fastest woman finished in 19 minutes (about twice as fast as me). So, if I want to do better, I will have to run 10-12 miles per hour rather than about 4-5 miles per hour lol. In time, I might be able to, but even if I don’t, it doesn’t matter as long as I’m doing my best at whatever speed I am able to do.

God really did come through for me. He ALWAYS does! I ran the whole time and I finished. He gave me the strength I needed (and then some!) to do it! My teachers, peers, and many others that probably never thought they would see the day that I would run watched me accomplish what could only be done through Christ. My goal was to glorify God and give all honor to Him. I hope and pray that I did that.

Thank you all for your encouragement and well wishes! I appreciate it, but all the credit goes to God. If anything I did inspires you, look beyond the surface to the source. If I’m a light and a fire, it’s because God lit it. He is what makes me burn bright! I shine for Him!! To God be all the glory, Amen!!

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