On Saturday, I felt as though my lungs were on fire. My heart was pounding as I made a loop around the Corporate Woods building in Overland Park, Kansas.
It was at 7:30 a.m. when the starting shot rang out and the runners bounded down the street. I started jogging through the crowd of participants, looked to my right, expecting to see my mother beside me, but she wasn’t there anymore. The night before, she told me not to worry about her and to run my own race.
So, there I was, jogging on the street surrounded by other women I didn’t know. Some of them were from the Kansas area; others came from Colorado Springs just to be part of the event. It was my first 5K ever, and a million things were going through my mind as I continued on the road. I tried to pace myself and found I had passed a few runners along the way. I started looking around and admired the scenery — anything to take my mind off the race.
With the RunKeeper app on my phone, I’m able to keep track of the miles I’ve run, along with my distance and pace. By the time I reached 0.97 miles on my app, I felt my throat tightening up. I was breathing harder and my legs were getting tired. At first, I tried to keep going, but I knew I had to give my body a rest, so I started walking. Runners passed me, one by one, and I remember thinking, "Why did I even get involved in this?" I got back into a light jog and kept it up for about 20 minutes or so before walking once more.
When I reached the two-mile mark, a friend from our church, who was part of my mom's running group, cheered me on. It wasn’t until I reached the three-mile mark when I felt my body wanting to give up. "I can’t do this. Lord, I can’t do this," I prayed. Then two runners I didn't know jogged beside me. One of them looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Don't you dare quit. You got this."
As we passed around the curve of the street, I could see the finish line just ahead of me, and I ran as fast as I could. There's something satisfying about crossing the finish line. I can’t describe it, but it's an amazing feeling.
It didn’t seem possible, but God made it possible. I had finished my own race, placing 13th out of 59 women in my age division (25-29), with a clock time of 31:39.7 and a pace of 10:04. We went home that day with gold medals around our necks, but we knew the glory went to God. In Hebrews 12:1, it says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
Life is kind of like a race. Each of us is called to run our race with endurance and faith. No matter what you're facing today, run your race and don't quit. You'll be amazed what God can do.