Three years ago I had a friend challenge me to walk for 30 minutes a day for 100 days. I met that challenge.
Earlier this year I had a friend challenge me to run a half marathon. Last Sunday I was able to meet that challenge as well!
I had three goals going into the half marathon; to run the entire way, to finish the race, and to not come in last! I met each one of my goals. I even finished in 3rd place for my age group! I learned a great deal about myself as I trained for the race. And I learned even more during the race itself. Here are just a few of my lessons on the run!
Lesson 1: Appreciate the wisdom of others.
I learned from others that I needed to eat a light breakfast, stay hydrated, and that it would all work out in the end because I would find the strength to finish. Do you listen to others? Or do you try to strike out on your own and have all the answers for yourself. Mentors, teachers, and good friends with experience have a lot to offer us if we're willing to listen. We can learn from their mistakes and we can benefit from the lessons they've learned. Perhaps our experience won't be exactly like theirs but we can take what works and use it to give ourselves the best possible outcome for our situation.
Lesson 2: Run your own race.
My friend Dennis told me that people would take off really fast from the starting line. He cautioned me not to get caught up in that frenzy. He told me to keep a steady pace and I would see some of those who'd taken off so quickly dropping back or falling out along the way. He was right. Choosing to keep a constant pace enabled me to run the entire course. Think about how that relates to our real life. Go at your own pace. Don't get caught up trying to have what someone else has or do what others are doing. You can't fulfill your destiny trying to run someone else's race. Your goals, your purpose, your success will only come from working with the gifts you've been given.
Lesson 3: Motivation comes from within.
Positive self talk is vital for the long haul. I had to talk myself through each mile, each curve, and on to the end of the course. I prayed, I sang, I talked to myself. I reminded myself of motivational quotes and scriptures. My friend Dee Dee told me that after mile 9 it's all mental. And she's right. I knew that my body was capable of going 10.4 miles because that had been my longest distance before the race began. I knew I was going to have to talk myself through the last 2.7 miles to be able to finish the course. I remembered that my friend Kaylon told me that I needed to breathe and take one goal at time. With each breath I centered myself. Asking God for strength. Praising Him for how our bodies are designed. At each water station I would encourage myself to get to the next one. I knew I needed to reach Maya Beach, then Seine Bight and so on. Every now and then I would remind myself of the goal to "get to the airport" because after the airport there would only be two more miles to go. Do you need to remember to breathe and break your task down into manageable pieces? Learning to lift yourself up with your thoughts and words will help you make it through the toughest undertakings in life.
Lesson 4: You are not alone.
There were points along the race when I felt alone and isolated from everyone else. I didn't see other runners out there for long stretches. I would hear cheers coming from the next water station or sometimes I heard footsteps behind me. And even though I knew that there were other people running I felt like I was the only one out there. It may have been true that I was physically on my own. But, looking back I know that God was with me. Just when I needed to know how far I'd gone a sign would appear. Right when I needed a boost someone would drive by and honk and yell out "you're doing great!" As I passed through Seine Bight someone screamed, "Go, Alida, go!" What a rush! I found out later it was someone I'd met once four years ago. I felt like God gave me that special gift just when I needed it most. Have you ever felt alone? Do you feel that way right now? Have you ever gotten those little boosts of encouragement from God just at the right moment? You are never truly alone if you have Him in your life!
Lesson Five: What began in the dark will end in the light!
I was picked up for the race shortly after 4am. The start time was 5:30am. It was dark out there. Not one street light. Just headlights from vehicles and headlamps worn by some of the experienced runners. It felt like a Hunger Games moment being told to walk over to the where the lights were to get to the starting line. I had no idea where I was and how long it would be before the sun came out. I ran in the dark for a half hour or so. As the sun rose and light filled the sky I was able to take in the beauty of the Caribbean sea, hear the songs of birds, appreciate the cool air, and the flat terrain of the course. Maybe you're going through a dark time right now and it feels like the light will never come. But, remember, that we have a Light that we can follow. He will illuminate our path with His Word and give our feet guidance. Lift up your head. The Son has risen and the Light is here for you!
I know that not everyone is crazy enough to run a half marathon. But, there are goals or dreams that each one of us have that seem out of reach. Are you thinking of going back to finish your education? Are you wanting to get a better job? Are you praying about going on the mission field? No matter what obstacle, life challenge, or dream you have in front of you, though it may seem crazy right now it is possible to move forward toward whatever God is calling you to do. Be open to His voice. And let His lessons help you in this race called life!