By Emily Donnell
As of the time I am sitting here writing this part of the blog (Saturday, November 2nd), the only thing on my mind is the fact that I am going to do something really dumb tomorrow. Those who know me may be surprised by this statement, but those who know me WELL will not be. Tomorrow morning at 8:30, the gun will go off for the start of the Good Life Halfsy half marathon here in Lincoln, and I will start running. This is all fine, except I have not ran for a little over a month. At least I won’t be alone; my boyfriend is running, too.
When I ran on the cross country team in high school, I was the only girl on the varsity team who did not lift weights. I was also one of the shortest, least intimidating people on the team. I do not look like a dangerous rival. Despite this, I think I did pretty well—even winning a few meets individually my senior year. Not bad for a girl who can barely do three push-ups and has problems opening large doors. My coach saw this and was always amazed. One day, I was in his classroom and he said to me, “Mental strength is all you run on.” Throughout my time as a runner, I have heard about the power of mental strength to exhaustion. Every coach, teammate, magazine, and running movie says that running is a mental battle, and this is true. It’s not a sport that takes a lot of technical skill—just insane amounts of persistence and willpower (in addition to a good training foundation). But I’ve never believed that the mental strength comes from myself. I give up on things very easily.
When I line up for this half marathon on Sunday, I am going to pray the same prayers I have always prayed before a race. I will ask God to give me wisdom, and I will ask God for mental strength because I know for sure that mine is not enough. Mine is never enough, but I believe that God can make up for what I don’t have and even more. I believe that I need a whole lot of faith to make it through this. God knows that I didn’t train. I’m not asking God to suddenly strengthen my muscles or to let me run at a seven minute mile pace. I really just want to finish this thing.
By the time this blog is posted, I will have already ran my race. Whatever the result is, I am just thankful that I have the opportunity to run and to see God’s creation along the way, even if I don’t get a new personal best. The fact that I can run in the first place seems like a miracle to me.
UPDATE (Monday, November 4th): I definitely did not run fast, and a lot of things went wrong during the race. I got some leg cramps and had my ankle lock up on me at the beginning, and I wore too many layers. Despite all of this and the fact that I can’t really walk today, I am thankful that I was able to wake up early and do this. I have a huge appreciation for the other runners and the people cheering on the sidelines. The encouragement from everyone around me was endless and plentiful, and I see God in that. The temperature was above freezing, I had many opportunities to grab water, and I was surrounded by people the entire way. I am grateful for those who were waiting for me at the finish line. I appreciated these things more than ever on Sunday, and I felt like God was watching over me every step of the way. God may not work in the ways that we want, but God is always working in our lives somehow.
All of this reminded me of Isaiah 41:13: “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.”