As we turned and ran up hill, suddenly there were hands reaching out dixie cups of water to me by someone running at me from the first rest table. We never stopped! We drank half and poured the rest on our arms and face, before tossing the cups to the curb as we continued running. Soon, we could see the family members of runners standing along the main starting street cheering. We kept on running past them, and across the highway where cars were stopped, waiting patiently. It was the summer solstice, June 21st, the first day of summer, the longest day of the year. It was also the longest 3.1 miles of my life. I saw five year old Carly after I passed the two mile point. She was about to fall asleep on her feet. Her Dad lifted her to his shoulder and charged ahead with her, before sitting her back down to allow her to set their pace again. I wondered how he would finish a race carrying her. I ran past them and a few choking, gasping runners.
Suddenly this incredulous sound of cheering, noisemakers, and applause could be heard before I could even see the finish line crowd. It was a heartstopping spiritual event... running in the dark among fleet feeted runners, realizing I was nearing the finish line and what was happening there. As I came into sight of the finish arch, and saw the screaming faces of the family menbers of racers shouting to me, encouraging me with applause, congratulating me, I saw Travis standing just before the finish line beside the barricade, watching me. I gave him a high five as I ran across the finish line, and collapsed into a chair to remove the timing chip device from my shoelace. That was the highlight of the whole event, seeing the face of my son, my family, watching. He had on my event candlelight 5K tshirt, smiling at me.
As I sat there retying my shoe, along came Carly with her Dad, both on foot running. Dad had went through so much to make sure his daughter felt the thrill of finishing her first race with him. I was exhausted. Completing a goal that you are unsure of your own ability to complete is an incredible experience. I woke up that morning thinking, "I hope I can finish this 5K run." I crawled into bed that night thinking, "I finished that 5K run!" That's an awesome feeling of reaching a goal. I was pleased. 1, 186 runners completed the race. I placed 564 out of 618 women in all age groups. There were 568 men running as well, but the results are seperated in men's and women's categories. That was just the first. I completed 5 other 5K's since. Right now, I can't run. That bothers me. I can't drop that part of me, the part that learned to love the thrill of running and riding in cycling events around the state. Once you've been there, the desire is not removed surgically on the operating table, regardless of how many surgeries are performed. It is an embedded recurring dream that keeps me waiting for that next run... that next road bike ride, even though I haven't ridden my bike in forever.
Our spiritual journey is a run...a challenge like such. Once you've set out on this road, you can't quit. If time allows and death tarrys, you'll come back to God once you've left him...just wait and see. Just as surely as you'll see me running on moonlit streets.