"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
I've run more than 2 miles exactly three times this year, all in 5K races. With training like that, you'd think I didn't know 5 kilometers equals 3.1 miles. Obviously, I hesitate to call myself a runner. Really, I still don't even like running. But I like finishing.
But, you know, in order to finish, you have to start.
In the two other 5Ks, I ran with my friend Emily, who wasn't able to run this time. I wasn't sure how I would do setting my own pace. But I managed to do alright. The first mile was a little slower than I would have liked, closer to 12 minutes than 11 minutes.
The hardest part for me is the middle. That 1.5 mile to 2.5 mile section is rough. I know when I'm there, I've made it half way, but I still have to go farther than I usually go. This 5K route was on residential streets. In this second mile, a guy was watering his yard ... and us runners who passed by. I seriously thanked God for him. And it wasn't even nearly as hot as it could have been.
I continued on. Nobody was running next to me. There were plenty of people in front of me and others behind me. I passed a couple. Several passed me. There were walkers and runners who were pushing strollers. There were lots of people younger than me and quite a few older than me. But nobody was running next to me. I've felt like that in life before. I have some of the best friends a girl could have. Our families are supportive. I'm an extrovert. Yet I've found myself alone before. The quiet can be good for my soul; the quiet can be haunting. Either way, it almost always brings about reflection.
Admittedly, I thought about walking. But I managed to run through the temptation. I remembered my goal and favorite part of running: Finishing. And then I thought about how running a race really is like life.
You have to start. Often the middle is hard. Maybe you're waiting for a phone call. Or an invitation. Perhaps you are mourning a loss or recovering from a failure. Decisions can be hard. Enduring the mundane can make you weary. But there a blessings, like a spectator with a garden hose, along the way. Being grateful helps us continue. And then there is the finish line.
When I crossed the finish line, my 3 1/2-year-old boy was there offering me water. Apparently his daddy put him up to it, but, still, I can't imagine a better prize. My 6-year-old girl captured my finish line. It's not exactly flattering, but it's real.
Finishing the race you start is always worth the hard stretches. I couldn't hear them in that middle stretch, but my family was there, cheering me on. At the end, there is relief and refreshment. Accomplishment wins. God may reveal what he's been orchestrating behind the scenes. If nothing else, you can say you did it. You endured, leaving your faith more confident.
I'm linking up with Jen Ferguson's Soli Deo Gloria party, where encouragement abounds, as well as Jennifer Dukes Lee and other storytellers for #TellHisStory.
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