I was headed in to sign up Judah for the kids 1K race. It was my first reason for entering the store in months.
As soon as I cracked the door open, the usual friendly face of Raquel greeted me with,
"Well, there she is right now."
I'm sure I even looked over my shoulder,
wondering what she could be talking about. She said,
"we were just talking about you."
I think, "We?" "Who's we?" At that moment Oliver walks around the corner. Oliver is a friend I met when we took the 2007 marathon training class together. Oh yeah, and he's a crazy fast runner too!
Long story short, he was trying to get in contact with me about being a racing partner for Wichita's Marathon Relay race in October. I was honored by his words. He referred to me as a "serious runner." He also explained that he felt like having me as a partner would give us a good chance at winning.
In my funk, I felt a light flicker back on. October was five months away and the window seemed plausible, that I might be a runner again by then. I explained to him my injury and how I was on board as long as my PT would support my desire.
I left our chat, with some sense of hope, that my precious passion wasn't dead, and that the Lord was giving me something to tangibly believe and hope for. It was quite unique how our paths crossed that day.
I continued on my way. Every few weeks I'd get a phone call from Oliver. He'd be checking on me and seeing if I was still interested. I gave the custom response, "As long as I can, I want to."
By July, I was approved to go on my first treadmill jog. Then I was allowed to do a couple of miles outdoors. I was approved to do some very short races, like one and two milers. I slogged through some hot Kansas heat runs. Gradually increased mileage and dealt with every new aliment along the way. I embraced cross training, learned to love my bike. I appropriately named my bike, Ramey, after my injury. I went for my first long distance race in September. I'd been struggling through some pretty painful tendinitis on my feet, but pulled off a PR at the Wichita Half Marathon. I felt encouraged as Oliver and I went over our finishing times at the after party. We got even more excited the next week when we took first at Wichita's Race for the Cure, and we grinned big together as we claimed our awards the following week at Octoberfest. Things were looking good for our team.
I was giddy that the Lord had brought me to such a place of health and healing.
One week before the race, the nag in my right foot was persisting and I couldn't seem to stretch it out. I had friends praying over my foot. Wonderful friends de-railed our entire small group to lay hands on my foot and pray. I was encouraged to recognize this gift of running and fight against any and all attacks of the enemy as I went forward. Things seem to get worse. I could barely walk or even get a shoe on. I stayed off of it, rode my bike and pondered all that was going on. I called Wendy, my hero.
She got me through my first marathon. She tattooed my heart with the truth that "All things are possible with Christ." She is afflicted with lupus but runs, lives, hopes, and believes. She has defied all the odds over and over. Her faith is incredible. Like I said, she's my hero.
I explained to her what was going on, and how I didn't know what to believe. Do I believe in healing? Or do I just say, "Lord, your will be done?"
She never makes my pettiness seem insignificant. I worry about coming to her with my problems, when I know she's living with a disease. She never lets me feel that way for long. She told me that she was going to believe for me, because she knew I didn't have the strength at that moment. She prayed for me and told me she'd see me Sunday, since she was racing too.
I walked away from that conversation with a renewed belief that I was going to put my anchor in the Lord and let him do his thing.
Did he ever!
I hopped out of the car Sunday morning to go inside the Derby Rec Center and wait for the start of our race. It was chilly so I took off for a jog. There was absolutely no pain. It was incredible. I found Wendy relaxing on the floor of the gym and I a smiled a smile that wouldn't leave my face the rest of the day.
Oliver showed up to cheer on our teams first leg. He stood with Kenton and Judah as I popped in line with Wendy. The gun shot and we were off. I told Wendy I loved her as our paces shifted and I ran pain free on my way.
It was a great day for this race. The wind was at our back. The Lord flew my body through the course faster than I'd ever gone. There were many warm faces along the way. I was just all smiles as I passed. At the 10K mark I noticed I was at 46 minutes. That was my best 10K race time and I was running 13.1 miles this day. I thought to myself, "Lord, what are you doing?" It was just incredible to be seeing his hand in this.
I rounded the corners of the air force base and the halfway point was in sight. I could now make out Oliver standing and waiting for me to give him the "baton," or slap bracelet. I kicked it in and literally slapped that bracelet on his wrist and yelled, "go get 'em" and "have a good race!"
I waited for Wendy to finish and in those minutes, I looked down at my Garmin and noticed my time was just under 1:44, my best time by four minutes. What a day!
We hightailed it to downtown and waited briefly for Oliver to show up.
My Dad and I went down a ways to see him coming in. He's incredibly fast and so for the last two blocks we tried to keep up with him and run him in, I couldn't keep up, but I could care less, my work was done.
His 1:34:12 finish and my 1:43:56 landed us a 3:18:08.
We placed second. With our necks adorned, my smile went on for miles.
There are so many details I could include. About the weather, the course, the people, etc. But I'm just so impressed by the encounters The Lord has designed in my life. By the graciousness of my Father in Heaven. By the passion put in my heart for this sport. By the honest to goodness miracle that took place in my life that day. I'm overwhelmed by the desire I have to give Jesus all the credit for all the good and perfect gifts in my life.
3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.
both now and forevermore.