Sunday morning I woke up around 3 am. Immediately I jumped out of bed and ran to the window to see if what my ears were telling me was true. My ears weren’t lying, it was pouring. It was dark, but had I turned the lights on you probably would have seen hives from my nerves. After what felt like hours of laying in bed finalizing my marathon playlist and wasting time on facebook, I finally got up and blasted “Bust a Move” and decided it was time. The rain didn’t stop and the temperature only dropped as the morning progressed. As I stood at the starting line I kept telling myself “this isn’t about you… this isn’t about you” but internally I kept thinking “What in the world am I doing here?!” Thankfully, before I could answer that question the countdown started, people around me started running, and there was no going back. As I crossed the starting line and looked ahead at the road before me, I was cold, wet, terrified… yet exhilarated.
As I started running I began to pray. I internally complained about the weather but was quickly reminded about my brothers and sisters who are facing circumstances much darker than a marathon in bad weather. I also started praying and looking for a person to team up with (I found out in my training that I don’t really run long distances well alone… read here to catch up on that journey).
Around mile 2, I noticed a man about my father’s age who was wearing the marathon tag (vs. the half tag). I watched him for a while and realized we were running at about the same pace so I started talking to him. He was a very kind man. Tall and athletic, with a strong runner’s frame from the 5 marathons he’d accomplished this year (including one in DC last Sunday!). He kindly took me under his wing and kept me company the entire race. When the rain started to poor and my shoes were heavy, he encouraged me. When I would hit my physical wall, he was there to give advice or he would just naturally slow down our pace. When we would face a hill that I couldn’t get over by myself, I didn’t have to. Tom was there and he was a Godsend, literally.
And when both of us were weak and were beginning to have doubts, we would turn the corner and see my parents, Cat, Nikki, Ben, Tif, Cory, Mary, Leah, & David with signs and words of encouragement. Their cheers were like shots of energy that enabled us to go another six miles until we saw their faces again. Those moments were the most joyous moments for me. Despite any pain that I felt, as soon as I caught glimpse of familiarity, my pain would temporarily subside and I would become blissfully overwhelmed and envigorated.
The worst part of the race was when the drizzle would turn to rain, and the rain would turn into a torrential downpour. Those were low moments. It never failed, we would always be making our way up a hill, the cold wind would pick up, and the sky would unleash its fury. My shoes were heavy, socks drenched, and my waterproof spandex and shirt finally quit waterproofing. I would internally start to complain but I was quickly be reminded that whatever discomfort I was facing paled greatly in comparison to our brothers and sisters who are affected by the Aids/HIV pandemic.
To be honest, I’m glad the weather was horrible (easier to say that now, than on Sunday). I’m glad it made the race more difficult. I’m glad that it caused me to struggle. I realize that I sound neurotic, but it’s true. The discomfort and pain helped me to focus on what I was doing and why. It forced me to bring the spotlight back onto the cause rather than focusing on myself.
You see, when I look at the race I see a story (thank you Don Miller). I see a story of a journey through hills and rain. A story with high and low moments, with new friends and old ones. I see people working together in order to accomplish something. Some people played acting roles, others gave money and played supporting roles. I see a beginning to the story, and there is an end. The same can be said of the Aids/HIV story. The only difference is that I don’t know what the end will look like on this side of eternity, but I want to take part in contributing to it.
I do know that one day there will be a great multitude from every nation, every tribe, people and tongue that will cry out “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne!” And there will be no more thirst or hunger, death or sickness, and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. This is the ultimate ending that I want to work towards. This is the Greater Story that I want to be a part of.
Thank you to the many people who have contributed to this mini story. Thank you to Tom from Fayetteville. I wish I had a way of letting you know how much I appreciated your company!! A big thank you to my family and friends who have financially given generously and emotionally supported me above and beyond their call of duty (or biological obligation). Because of your generosity, $2,080 has been given to an organization that is dedicated to writing new chapters of hope in the Aids/HIV story. And last but not least, THANK YOU to the Samaritan’s Purse staff who are consistently fighting the good fight and playing their role in the Greater Story. It was great meeting a few of you this past weekend. Yall rock!
At the end of this mini story, I crossed the finish line 4 hrs. 44 min. after I started. As this chapter closes, I look forward to a new one beginning and wonder what lies ahead. I want to encourage you to continue giving, continue praying, and continue figuring out what role you will play in the mini stories that get people involved in the Greater Story.
(photo by David Morrison, photographer for SP and all around great guy. You should check out his blog. Really, you should.)