As I’m running the Hy-Vee half-marathon race 10 days ago in Des Moines, the question that kept coming up in my head is, “Why am I doing this?”
Race day alarm goes off at 4:30am to get a cliff bar and some water in my system. After getting everything ready, Winter and I head downtown at 6:30, where we are greeted by a chilly, rainy morning. There was an hour delay start, so we waited inside and stayed warm with my family (parents, sister Emily, brother-in-law, niece and nephew). Since this was my first long race, I didn’t really have a pre-game routine. I wore shoe inserts and calf compressions to help with my shin splints. I had 8 Gu Chomps in my pocket for energy throughout the race, and my iPod touch for added motivation and focus. I thought I was adequately prepared, but little did I know what was to come…
At 8:30, I move up to the 8 minute pace group and the race begins. What seemed like 10,000 participants at the start turned out to be about 1,200 (not ideal for anyone claustrophobic). The first few miles felt almost as good as some crispy bacon at an all-you-can-eat buffet… pretty darn good! The rain stopped shortly after the start, and the temperature was perfect once I got going. The biggest advice I was getting was “don’t start out too fast, find a sustainable pace.” I followed closely to a few guys who had a good pace going, not knowing what my pace was at the time. After 6 miles, it turned out to be a 7:40 pace. Probably a little faster than I wanted, but I still felt pretty good halfway through. (At this point, I was still joyful and confident that I would have no problem finishing with a good time).
Once I got to the 9 mile marker, my legs started to feel heavy like Bobby Boucher’s mama (Waterboy). I started to get side aches and found myself a little dehydrated, even with some water every 2 miles. My energy and pace started to rapidly decline. To make it even worse, the last 4 miles had some pretty steep hills. When I saw Winter and my dad about half a mile from the finish line, I was relieved and gave them an exhausted high five. As I made my way to the top of the last hill, something happened that I never would have predicted: my mind and body shut down. I became dizzy and couldn’t see straight, so I had to pull off to the side and sit down. I called over to a random guy and he was nice enough to get me some water. I had him call my dad to let him know I had stopped. At this point, I felt so weak and embarrassed that I couldn’t make it through the finish line without stopping. It took me about 12 minutes just to feel good enough to stand up and slowly walk next to my dad. My legs were so cramped and fatigued, but I knew I had to finish. When I made it into Drake Stadium, I saw the clock tick closer to 2 hrs, which gave me the much needed motivation to run to the finish. Final time: 1:59:45. While some may be happy with this time, I was disappointed because I was on pace for about 1:47 if I didn’t have to stop. Being too competitive sometimes can get the best of me.
As I was struggling after the race to stand up straight, I thought to myself again, “Why did I do this?” I began to think big picture and had an overwhelming feeling of peace. I thanked God for getting me through the race. I thanked God for the unbelievable support of family and friends that he has blessed me with. Lastly, I thanked God for making me suffer during my training and the race in order to bring me closer to Him. Romans 5:3-5 says it best…”We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Going back to the question, the reason why I ran was to make a sacrificial commitment to help raise money for a non-profit. Incredibly, with the help of many friends and strangers alike, over $4,000 was raised for Global Outreach Group! In response to everyone who made very generous donations, Executive Director Dan DeGroat said, “You’re helping develop leaders who will reach children and youth at Christian summer camps in the least-reached world. Ministry treasure for kids, treasure in Heaven for you.”
At the end of the day, I learned some very valuable life lessons. It doesn’t matter how fast you run the race, it matters that you stay faithful and finish the race. I learned that no matter how hard or painful the race is, stay hopeful and trust that God won’t put you through something that He knows you can’t handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). I was reminded that God turns our weakness into strength. Lastly, I learned to keep praying and dreaming bigger. What was just an idea turned into a $1,310 fundraising goal, which was exceeded beyond my imagination. It may not seem like a lot, but I’ve witnessed God do AMAZING things with far less ($100 in this story) so I KNOW he will do incredible things with these funds for Global Outreach Group.
Thanks again to everyone for your prayers and financial blessings!
P.S. I’m running another half this year with the goal to finish strong!!!
“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” -Ephesians 3:20-