Another race begins just as another one ends.
I lost track of my time and one of our kids. We had a plan for our race, but he was just way too fast. I lost him after .7 miles in and never saw him until the finish. Mile 2 was probably where my concern grew the most. He was nowhere to be seen on the road ahead of me. ‘What if he is hurt and writhing in pain on the side of the road and I just passed by without seeing him?’ I thought. I always know how fast I’m running, but the sound must have been turned down on my phone and I couldn’t even think about what Runkeeper said.
At the beginning of the third and final mile, I felt pretty good and started to believe that Josh was doing just fine. He probably was ahead of me and even though he hadn’t run any mile faster than 8:20 in training, he might just be having an incredible race. I turned up the volume on my phone and just in time to hear I was running an 8:48 pace. I’ll take it! I wasn’t ready for anything fast anyway, and I was more than happy with sub 9 minutes per mile.
I turned the corner and made my way to hill in front of me, when two minutes later I heard Runkeeper say I was running at an 8:14 pace. What? I grabbed my phone and looked at the app. I must have misheard it the first time, but maybe it was just my lack of familiarity with this number. I have never been anywhere near this time, but today I was.
The last half mile has a pretty good hill, and then it’s a straight coast into the finish. I lowered my head, shortened my stride and dug in to get up this hill and hopefully find Josh at the finish. My pace slowed just a little, as I came to the top, and I settled nicely into a solid pace for the finish. The other runners and I turned into the school, and that’s when I saw Josh standing there, with most of our other kids, cheering loudly for me.
I looked at the finish and began to pick up my pace. It was time to do what I always do, which is to sprint in at full speed. But something happened then I can’t quite explain. In the pictures, you can see me turn and run to the opposite side of the course and to my children. I’m still not sure why I did it. Maybe I thought being a dad was more important that being a runner.
“You killed me!” I hollered with a big smile as Josh and I high fived. I high fived a few of the other kids, and then turned, trotting through the finish line. My time was 8:18 per mile, 25:45 for the 5k, and twelve seconds faster per mile than my previous fastest times. Josh finished at a 7:10 pace and was 4th in his division and 24th overall. It was a stunning pace for an eleven year old kid.
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Sometimes it’s ok to be a little afraid, and God knows exactly what he is doing. My faith in him was tested, as I had been concerned for Josh, yet he gave me victory and speed when I needed it most. The mile I was the most concerned, mile 2, I ran my fastest pace at 8 minutes flat. It felt easy and I was determined. This race is a reminder of how God teaches me so much through running, and how prayer is a colossal part of those moments when it’s just me versus myself out on the open road.
At this time on Friday I will be in a van heading to Massachusetts for the Ragnar Relay. I have 4.8, 3.2, and 9.6 mile runs, in that order. The last run will be a pretty tough test, and I missed some of my training goals this time. I will go into this race about 12 pounds heavier than I wanted to be, but after the race the other day, I feel pretty strong. There’s something pretty special about getting in two vans with twelve people and racing almost two hundred miles across a state in about thirty hours. It won’t be an easy feat for any of us, but when we cross the finish line, as a team, we will have experienced something you have to be a part of to fully grasp. My team is ready. I’m as good as I’m going to get.
And so, another race begins, just as another one ends.