The (Purpose of the) Big Race
The big race is Sunday. I did mention I'm on a relay team for the Half Ironman right? The race is a totally crazy amount of moving - 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and then a little 13.1 mile run. All I'm doing is the run. I've done that before. In fact this will be my fifth half and the third in a year's time. Who would have ever thought?
Well, I say I've done this run before, but perhaps a more accurate statement is I've run this distance before. I've never run as a part of a team. I've never run in an event this big (over 3,000 registered participants...the largest Half Ironman in the world). I've never, ever started a run this long in the middle of the day (swimmer goes off at 9:08 which will probably mean I'll start running around 1 PM).
I've been doing my usual amount of nervous worrying this week. Nervous about my start time, not to mention it's the latest start time so I'm also kind of worried I might be last. I'm worried about what to eat and when. I usually do long runs before the sun is up and fuel on a banana before and some gels along the way. Don't think that will work this time. I’m scared knowing that the day of the race will be precisely the day that my painful varicose veins will be at their absolute worst. So much to worry about, so little time.
I was thinking about this while I was praying tonight, asking the Lord to help me get some perspective. He reminded me of this little lesson. Sunday, He let me know, should be looked at as an opportunity to let my light shine. There are so many ways to do this in a race. I can encourage any runners I pass (still dreaming). I can thank the volunteers at the aid stations and the crowds cheering us on. I can stay at the finish line to cheer on the one or two who come in behind me (yes, hoping too). I can be positive and encouraging to the people waiting to run like me.
Yes, I can do all of these things...as long as I keep a positive outlook and a smile on my face. If I forget about times, and the people passing me by, I have the opportunity to make a difference in that race. With this knowledge in hand, I felt a joy overcome me. I agreed with God on this one. I can let go of all this worrying and remember why I'm running in the first place.
Um...why am I running in the first place? Oh yeah, to stay fit, keep my sanity, and maybe even have a little fun. "Run with me," I heard God tell me. "We'll have a good race. Besides," He reminded me, "I'm a lot faster than you." Don't ya just love His sense of humor? But dude, He is totally right. If I can keep pace with God, I'll do just fine.
To make things even better, I got a very clear sense that I needed to offer this race up for my dad. I haven't talked about him much here since his surgery, but it has not been easy going. Even though his heart is doing fine, one of the medications he was on caused the tissue around his lungs to swell and he's currently working with only 54% of his lung capacity. Not good.
Suffering, when done in the right way, can be used as a prayer. I've done this one other significant time in my life and it was for my mom, who was diagnosed with a rare and serious kidney disease when I was pregnant with Aiden. I'm a legend in the hospital for my fast and furious labors. I had a feeling that Aiden's birth would be no different than Mackenzie's during which no doctor was present, nor was the anesthesiologist ever called. I figured if I was going to have to suffer the pains of natural child-birth for the second time, the least I could do was to offer it up for my mom's healing.
As I was panting my way through my final contractions I remember clutching her shirt and pulling her down to my ear and telling her, rather sternly, "You better get healed!" Well I'll be if God didn't heal her. I'm not claiming that I performed a miracle or was even the cause of this, but I think you see my point.
So Dad, Sunday's race is for you and your complete healing. Every time I choose not to complain, I will pray for you. Every time I feel like I'm out of breath, I will pray for you. Every time I feel pain, I will pray for you. And Dad, I'm going to tell you exactly what I told Mom, "You better get healed! You hear me?"
In the span of an hour or so of prayer this evening, God gave me a whole new perspective on Sunday's race. I now have a purpose and a mission and by golly, it's going to be a good race after all.