In the fall of 2017, I learned about the American Heart Association’s Heart Mini. The race featured a half marathon, a 15K, 5K race, and 5K walk. I thought to myself, hmmm…. 15K… that seems like a big goal, but doable. I’d been trying to reach the half marathon level by this time but had various setbacks. I’m ready to rebuild, I thought. Nine miles is the perfect goal to set. The race is right around my birthday – It’ll be great! I had it all figured out. Facebook gave me a platform to record my training journey, which kept me going on days I’d rather have stayed indoors. I was not messing around. Scared to death, I determined to finish that race.
Then in March of 2018, two weeks before the race, I had a heart attack while training. Fortunately, my doctors cleared me to do the 5K walk. Even though I was lucky to do the 5K, I felt so let down. All of my hard work and training seemed so worthless until I realized that without it, the outcome of the heart attack might have been different.
When fall rolled back around, I started training for the 15K. Once again, I went in on Facebook, loud and proud, about all of the hilly miles I logged each week regardless of the weather. I felt so close to God outdoors, and training went according to plan most of the time. My family was proud of me, I took my medicine, and I just knew nothing could stop me. I dared something to try. What was I thinking?
The flu got me two weeks before the race. I’ll get this over within a week, and I had a flu shot. I’ll be fine for the race. The week before the race, I was not ready to go. I decided to go anyway. I could not envision not doing this race. Again. I had to do it, no matter what.
No matter what, in my case, turned out to be a nightmare. This race was so ugly that I won’t describe it. Suffice to say that I did finish, and I wasn’t last. But I was close. Women came along and saved me going up a steep hill, and I’ll never forget them. It’s taking me a long time to recover. It’s been two and a half weeks and the most I get out to do is a couple of miles. I pushed myself out this week, and while painful, walking does what it always does – made me feel better and connected me with God’s creation. I’m recalibraring and rebuilding. But I’m here.
We seek and find ways to follow Jesus. I feel Jesus most clearly outside as my body moves. I want to believe that I followed Jesus walking the path of the Spirit that chilly March morning as I faced my fears and have the medal to prove it. Some days, when the pain worsens, I’m not so sure.
I want my girls to see that it’s ok to succeed and it’s okay to fail – and sometimes it’s hard to tell failure from success. The jury is out regarding whether or not I should have walked this race, although my gut tells me to be glad I did.
The chance to run and walk on the road overlooking the Ohio River meant feeling surrounded by that great cloud of witnesses who crossed that river. They carried me through that race. Perhaps the pain can remind me that rebuilding is a gift. I’ll do my best to see it that way.