Sometimes in the course of life, you will encounter obstacles. These obstacles can come in many forms, and present different challenges. My most recent obstacle was during my last training cycle for the Cowtown Half-Marathon. I ran my first half marathon in 2009. That also was the year that the Cowtown started a new “medal” series. If you collect all 5 medla in the series, they will create a “Lone Star”. After last years race, I really tried to maintain my endurance and training, even though it was the hottest summer on record in Texas. Once the temperature began to drop in the fall, I really ratcheted up my mileage. I was doing very well until just after Christmas. I tweaked my back and had to take off several weeks of training. Actually, it was 5 weeks of training. I wasn’t able to return to any type of consistent running or distance runs until one week before the race. My hopes of breaking my PR (Personal Record) was far out of reach. I had decided I was simply going to attempt to finish the race before the course was closed. In my own mind, my new goal was 2 hours and 36 minutes. That is a 12 minute mile pace. I figured it would be difficult, but possible. I based this on my last long run and two “easy runs” during the week, in which I was able to maintain this pace.
I had reached out to my church running group, family, friends and co-workers to pray for me on Sunday morning. First that my back, hip, and leg would remain in place and secondly that I could finish the race. I skipped my typical pre-race meal and ate and drank the opposite of what I should have had, but did get ample sleep. Come race morning, I just wasn’t feeling it. It was perfect weather, I was dressed appropriately, but still felt fairly lethargic. Once my corral got to the start line, I really began to question if I had it in me to go all 13.1 miles. I got the first mile under my belt and maintained my goal pace. As each mile passed, I noticed that my heart rate and energy level felt fine. I remembered my last long run from the week before, and I did well on it until mile 8. I had to stop at mile 9. Unfortunately, between mile 8 and 9 in the Cowtown is a fairly long and relatively steep hill. Last year, I had to walk half of the hill (and I felt that I was in much better shape.). When I got to the start of the hill at 8.74 miles, I had made up my mind that if I had to walk, I would not do so until I reached the top. I was NOT going to let this hill beat me this year. As I was going up the hill, I felt a peace come over me, my feet felt lighter, and that I was gliding up the hill. I knew then, that it was not my own power that was propelling me forward. I knew I was being lifted up in prayer and that those prayers were being heard. There were some very funny signs held by spectators, but there were also some signs that encouraging. These signs contained various scriptures that helped to remind me, that no matter the circumstances in life, I have access to a power that is inexplicably divine and limitless in power.
My encouragement to you is to let you know that no matter what challenges are presented in your life, Jesus has been there. He has set an example for us to follow. In Hebrews 12:1-2, we read the following:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, theauthor and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Himendured the cross,despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We see in this that though we are sometimes consumed by our problems, that we need only to push that aside, focus on Jesus, let Him sustain us, and know that He is sufficient and able to meet our needs.
I did finish the race which turned out to be 13.33 miles. I did stop my watch at the 13.1 mark to bounce that against my previous times. When I compared the 13.1 miles to my previous 13.1 mile personal best, I beat my own PR (unofficially) by 11 seconds. My official time was 2:25:28. That is not fast by most folks standards, but the races I run are not against other people, it’s about how I push myself. I know I will be able to draw upon this experience for the remainder of my days as a reminder in the power of prayer and the power of my God, to lift carry His people through difficult times.