Last Saturday marked a huge milestone for me – it was Team World Vision’s 20 mile run – the longest run of the marathon training.
I had recently missed a couple of long runs, so my confidence was low. I felt undertrained and very discouraged. My 14 mile run the prior weekend had been really difficult, and it made doing 20 miles seem impossible. So much was riding on the 20 miler – if I didn’t successfully complete 20 miles, how could I possibly expect to finish the marathon? Utter failure seemed to be hanging in the balance.
I prayed a lot during the days leading up to the 20 miler. I was convinced this run was impossible for me to do in my own strength – the only way I would finish was with God’s intervention. However, I didn’t feel deserving of God’s help. I didn’t feel like I had been “good enough” lately, so it was with a contrite heart that I told God that I knew finishing this run was impossible and that I desperately needed Him to help me.
So, very early Saturday morning, I found myself in Lincoln Park with 400 other TWV runners at the start line of the 20 mile race. It was my first time wearing a Team World Vision jersey on a run – the only other time I had worn a TWV jersey was when I was spectating Comrades on the Africa trip earlier this summer. I worried about getting hurt. I agonized over what pace group to run with. I anxiously watched the sky as dark clouds threatened rain.
I decided to start with the 12:00 minute/mile pace group, and ended up finding my friend, Jeannie, who is a veteran marathon runner. Since she is running the Berlin marathon this coming weekend, she was only going to do the first 10 mile loop with us, but I decided to stick with her for at least the first half of the run.
I was in my head for the first 6 miles or so – thinking about how much my knees, feet, and ankles were already hurting and how I had so much distance left to go. But a little after the 6 mile mark, I felt an internal shift. I was going to be okay and I was going to finish this run. It was like God inserted that thought into my brain and gave me peace. He didn’t say I wouldn’t be in pain. He didn’t say the rest of the run wouldn’t be hard. But He did tell me I was going to be okay and I was going to finish this run. And I clung to that for the rest of the distance.
Running with Jeannie for the first 10 miles helped me to get a solid start. Throughout the run, God continued to encourage me. My friend, Laura, who had been sidelined from the run due to injury, ran with me for a little while to see how I was feeling and to encourage me. My friend, Reid, who I had not seen since the Africa trip, took a detour so he could run with me for a few minutes and catch-up. And finally, when I was at mile 19, my boyfriend, Patrick and our friend, Alex (both had already finished the 20 miler a while ago because they are speedy) were waiting for me to run the final mile with me. And so, I got to run through the finish line of the 20 miler, flanked by friends, to a chorus of cheering and high-fives after running for 4 hours and 45 minutes. That moment was the first time I believed that I actually can and will finish the marathon come race day.
We are in the taper (decreasing mileage) for the remaining 3 weeks leading up to race day, which means now I can stress less about running and focus more on hitting my fundraising goal. My personal goal is to give clean water to 26.2 people – one for every mile I will be running on October 9th.
Will you help me give the gift of clean water to one more child?