Take that, Coronado! Ponce de Leon, you got nothin' on me!!! Forget the fountain of youth and the city of gold. I have something worth way more than their treasures, and longer lasting. I have an amazing God. A God who does not give us unreachable dreams, empty hopes, or wild goose chases. He does not ask us to find some amazing discovery to be remember in eternity. He sent His Son to be the most amazing treasure the world has ever known. To be remembering, all we have to do is choose to follow Him.
On May 7, I was reminded again of just how incredible He is. That morning I got up at 4:45 am. (Yep, that's in the morning!) My dear, long-suffering husband even slept in Landon's room so that I would have the best night's sleep possible. Also, my alarm not waking him up might have played sightly into the situation... I downed 2 Aleve, a potassium/calcium tablet, and choked down a protein bar for breakfast while I unsuccessfully tried to drink a G3. (Grabbed by accident instead of a G2. Do NOT make this same mistake! Ever. Nasty. Still shudder when I think about it.) I vaselined every skin surface that I remotely thought might rub against other skin, fabric, headphone wires, etc. Pinned my bib on my T-shirt and made certain to grab the medicine kit as well as my iPhone, armband, and headphones. Necessities, you know!
I met the other ladies and climbed into the back seat of the vehicle we were carpooling in. Massaging and taping the sudden shin-splints of one of my friends helped relieve my nervousness, but I couldn't get out of the back of my mind what I was about to try to accomplish. The closer the car came to Indianapolis, the faster my butterflies flew until I was glad that I was unable to finish the entire power bar. A gargantuan task of 13.1 miles loomed ahead of me. We parked the cars and split up with our partners to head to the corrals. And suddenly it happened, my nervousness melted away into excitement. The old feeling I used to get before a volleyball game reappeared. With the help of my friends I had trained and felt ready.
That wonderful feeling lasted until about mile 8. My combination of walking and running had worked pretty well and my partner and I had been keeping a decently steady pace of 13-minute miles. Then came the Brickyard. The race brochures makes sure to emphasize that runners get to race on the actual track that the Indianapolis is run on. True. How historical it is. True. How it's wonderful and the highlight of the race. FALSE!!! They lie like dogs!!! It was dreadful. Now I know why humans run on a 400m track, because 2 1/2 miles is way too long. I kept running and running and felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. Also, due to the bowl shape, there is no breeze whatsoever. The only good part was the 12 or so high-school cheerleading teams dressed up in different themes supporting the runners. The worst part was that I lost my partner somewhere between miles 6 and 8. Alone in a crowd of 30,000. After exiting the track, the next mile marker seemed like it never came. I didn't want to give up, but I was having a hard time starting to run after every walk. So I prayed. My prayer wasn't to finish in under 3 hours, I'd stopped caring so much about that. First, I thanked Him for this opportunity and the chance to push myself, thanking Him for my friends that were with me somewhere on the course. I thanked Him for helping me make the journey to start towards a healthier lifestyle and the chance to teach my children about the principle of stewardship. I even thanked Him for the cheering strangers on the sideline that came out in the rain. The crowd, by the way, was amazing. Then my prayers moved on into claiming promises, for I know He keeps His. Like crazy I asked for the strength to finish what He had asked me to start. He kept my legs moving and I was able to run the last mile. 3:11. This is literally the longest that I have ever run. For that matter, it's the longest I've ever run without a rest break!!!
People that overly-spiritualize things drive me crazy. I mean, really, dinner mints with praying hands on them aren't any better than those that you buy at Kroger. It certainly doesn't make your candy any healthier! But this journey was way more than physical, it was a spiritual, faith-building, bruising, and uplifting journey. Along the way I rediscovered that the God that I serve sometimes uses physical illustrations for spiritual purposes. I learned that, with His strength, I can do so much more than I think I can. With Him, I can silence the voices that run inside my head, seeking to distract me. With Him, I can keep on trucking long after the point where I would have quit. And a bonus: once upon a time there was an extremely competitive blond girl who never gave up and attacked problems. Somewhere in the University of Real Life her drive and determination got shifted from sports to academics and career and family, and she started using the deadly phrase, "I can't." Worst was the fact that she felt that getting in shape again and taking care of herself was hopeless. At the end of the race I found myself planning for next year's race and setting a goal time. 2:45. There, I've said it out loud. Then I found myself on the internet researching others to run. It was then that I realized that the competitive blond girl was back, more mature, darker hair, and happier than ever to be running. God restores. He's amazing. He's my treasure.