We had put miles on our shoes. Wore our treads. Pounded bike trails and tracks and rolling roads. We had pleaded awkwardly for support. We got injured. We lost runners. Runners stepped up. People gave generously; encouraged richly. For everything we were ever grateful.
All for this one day. Race day.
On a rainy Sunday morning in May, we tear ourselves out of bed and groggily hit the road. My brother Dan has just gotten in hours before. The guy is fresh off a root canal and giddy to run. It is an honor to have a brother who loves so much; who lives so well.
Paul is our fearless organizer; command central, with maps and knowledge of road closures and a time frame for each leg and a plan. I don’t know what we would do without him. Every runner finds their starting place with hours to spare.
Kathleen and I find our leg; the last one, with probably too much time on our hands. We make two trips to the fancy hotel bathrooms down the road. We drink water and eat bananas. We run warm-up laps. We cheer on the real marathoners. We stretch and laugh like kids and talk about everything and nothing at the same time.
I am as nervous as I’ve ever been in my life. I am falling under the weight of doubts… You can’t do this. You shouldn’t be here. You aren’t a runner. Your knees aren’t going to make it. Kathleen remains calm and collected; a more seasoned competitor. She keeps me focused. It’s only a few miles.
I sync my Ipod and wait for Aaron. I get a text that he will be there soon. I hope to not disappoint my team. I see him in the distance and take my place. I give him a medal, grab the baton, and run. He yells at me to go. Aaron never yells. The team has made great time.
And I run. It’s really happening. This race. This now. My eyes fill with tears because God has brought me here. I could not be more grateful. My legs run and there is no hint of pain. I lengthen my stride in joy and in hope. That a Savior, my Savior, will fulfill His purpose through legs that are not steel. One strike at a time.
The miles go quickly, one to another. I am in Bloomfield, in the Strip, in the city, on the Clemente Bridge. There is a Yankee fan heckling me about my Red Sox hat. Bands are playing loudly. Crowds five people deep are cheering runners on. I am almost there.
The last stretch is the hardest. I can see the finish line, but I want to walk. Everything in me wants to give out. I can’t stop. Full marathoners are searing on ahead of me. They are amazing. I don’t run any faster, but I can’t give up now. Finally, I finish. I finish.
I finish because God is gracious. Because He has given me health and strength in weakness and because He is good.
I finish because Paul has cheered me on each day of every training week; because Selah and Adden need to see finish lines crossed; because friends and family have sacrificed for this cause of justice; because our runners have given up a lot to be here. I finish because Jesus came to restore what has been lost.
Here’s to praying that He does. All in all, $1,300 was raised for International Justice Mission, to go towards the fight against human trafficking. As a team, we couldn’t be more thankful.