The Last Race I Did

Sept 24, 2011 ~ One Step Closer to the Cure 5K

Team Hea and Bria ran this race in downtown St. Pete a few weeks ago. The race surprised us because we both felt destroyed 0.2 miles into the race.

The humidity must have been at 100%. The temp likely began at 88 degrees, increasing to 91 or so by the time we finished. Those numbers may be off, but do reflect my feelings on the matter. Dawn broke just before the race began, increasing the temperature with every second. Meaning, I felt every second of that 28 minute, 11 second race. Yes, it's a decent time and I am happy with it. But in the moment, I wasn't happy at all.

St. Pete's downtown waterfront area is beautiful, especially at sunrise or sunset. But I wasn't soaking in any beauty. My lungs felt soaked with water, and Hea and I could barely talk as we plodded along past the Pier and towards the Vinoy. My body felt devoid of energy, even reserves. Everything in me cried out to stop running. Around that time, Hea felt a burst and got about 50 meters ahead. She stayed that far ahead of me for the rest of the race.

When we circled by Northshore Pool and came back toward the Pier, I kept thinking, "I just have to keep moving so I can get done with this misery." Yes, it was a major anti-running moment. By the time I passed the Pier and headed toward the finish line, I started praying.

God help me Jesus I'm gonna die right here in this 5K and no one will believe me when my last words are, "But I've done a marathon..."

It's truly mind-boggling when you've completed two marathons and a 5K makes you feel defeated. But that's running. It's never easy.

I believe Christ started speaking back to me. I felt so low, and yet Christ held me up enough to keep me from falling. And tripping/falling was a valid fear at that moment. I spotted a building ahead of me and told myself Christ was standing there. In my mind, I pictured him pulling into the race just as I was rounding the last curve, staying on my heel. Of course I couldn't see him, but I heard his encouraging words telling me I could make it. That he would never leave me, and that I could push through until the end.

The last curve turned out NOT to be the last curve. Although the finish line was to the left down this smaller pier (same place we started), Hea and the other runners ahead of me were veering to the right. I couldn't see how far they were making us run that way before we came back to the finish, but it may as well have been an endless circle that would lead to my death.

Just then, my college roommate's mom passed me. Ellie (Tva's mom), is a super-fit, awesome woman of God. And I never felt so justified in my misery as when she turned to look at me and said, "This is killing me."

What is it about empathy? God, thank you that it's not just me.

We didn't go far around that corner before we rounded a cone and headed back to the finish line. Someone ran on my heel, and as I tried to pick up my feet, they started picking up their feet. And before I knew it, the two of us were sprinting toward that finish line neck and neck. We pretty much tied. When it was over, I saw that it had been a gentleman maybe in his 40's and we high-fived each other.

As much as I wanted to lay down and suck the oxygen out of the grass blades, I took a slow walk toward Hea to catch my breath. In that moment, I thought about how amazing life can be when Jesus is with you. How humbling experiences can be the best experiences. As a runner, I'm sure to have more of them.