"in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." -- Proverbs 3:6
The Good Lord definitely made my path straight this week!
With only two weeks of very limited running since October 27th, and most of that accompanied by a significant amount of pain and/or discomfort, I wasn't exactly sure how this race would go. I was trusting in Jesus to get me through it, but just wasn't certain what kind of shape I'd be in by the end.
Turns out, God came through with much more than I expected and much more than I asked for. Never, not one time, did my injured knee give even the slightest discomfort. No pain, not a twinge to remind me of the injury, nothing.
By mile 21, my legs were sore, but not a hint of an injury, just the typical soreness that follows long runs. Janice and I actually walked the mile or so back to the hotel after the race.
Jesus really came through and not only got me through this race, he got me through in good shape!
"The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" -- Matthew 25:40
This race wasn't about PRs or even a time goal. It was more about the cause supported by the race--St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and the patients it served.
That point was driven home just minutes before the start with the singing of the national anthem. The young voice cracked a little as the 8-year-old girl worked to sing this beautiful, but difficult, song. But as she sang, my eyes began to water thinking of the story the announcer had just told about the young singer.
She wasn't your typical 8-year-old girl. She was a former patient at St. Jude, diagnosed with cancer at age 3, her life saved by doctors, nurses, and supporters of the hospital. Hearing the Star Spangled Banner sung by that little girl put the whole race into perspective.
It was all about the kids of St. Jude.
The tears welled up at least two other times on the course. First, around mile 3 was a young girl holding a sign. A lot of people hold signs on a marathon course that are humorous, and many have motivational slogans on their placards. This one fell in the second category, but it was different than any I'd seen at other races.
"If you think running is hard, try chemo," the sign read. Talk about a tear jerker!
I kept a picture of that sign in my head the rest of the race.
Then, nearing mile 5, the course took us through the campus at St. Jude. The street was lined with patients and parents, a steady stream of the most enthusiastic spectators I've ever encountered on a race course, all out there to cheer us on and thank us for running for St. Jude.
We run lots of races for charitable causes, but this one competes for the top spot on a scale of "worthwhileness."
"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." -- Philippians 4:19
The organization and course support was beyond fantastic! I'd read on the website there would be water stations every mile and a half until mile 20, then every mile thereafter. The weather turned out much warmer than anticipated and organizers made a great adjustment.
The first two water stations were indeed at miles 1.5 and 3.0, but then we were greeted by super volunteers every mile thereafter at stations stocked with water and Powerade. Several stations were also stocked with towels soaked in ice water and several with Gu. The really amazing amenity though, was that every water station also was accompanied by at least two porta-potties.
I'd never been at a race that so accommodated runners.
The course was fantastic too! Not too hilly, and not too flat. I spent so much of the race conversing with friends that I really didn't notice the surroundings so much. But I know over the entire 26.2 miles, I don't ever remember looking up at a hill and getting that feeling of dread that comes when I face a daunting hill in a tough part of a marathon.
All things considered, I know we'll be back for this race every year. I may only do the half most years, but we'll definitely be back. I just can't imagine finding a better race for a more worthwhile cause!
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