Today we ran to remember. Today we ran for a purpose. Though the rain streaked down from the sky for the entire 13.1 miles, we ran together for the 168 lives lost in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995.
"Faith, love, and goodness will always prevail over evil" were the words spoken before the race started as over 10,000 participants tried to take in the significance of the moment. For a moment we stood as one. For a moment we were united. And for a moment we all ran together for the same purpose....to remember.
And then we ran. Cold and wet, but united.
My 1st half marathon was nothing like I expected it to be. Amidst thousands of people, I felt alone. It was just me and God. I ended up running 4 or 5 miles with a lady I met while we were running, and I found comfort running next to her. We eventually lost track of each other, but many times during the race, I remember what it felt like to run beside her.
I felt my soul tell me many, many times, "be still, I am with you." And so I would be still (on the inside of course.)
And over and over again, my mind wandered back to the reason we were running together in the 1st place. For the 168 lives lost in an attack against our city and our nation. When it got hard or I wanted to stop, I thought about that day. About the way that I felt. I will never be able to erase it from my mind. April 19th will live forever in my soul.
I ran today for those who can't, for those who are no more. I found strength repeatedly in my God whom I've come to know through many days on the road in the quiet.
When my knee started hurting around mile 5, I couldn't help but question, "Why would you let this happen now? I've never had knee problems. I've never struggled to run distance. Why today of all days?"
But when I think about, suffering is what this day was about. I learned that the woman who I ran with for part of the race, had once broken her leg (and then I thought, "wow, impressive, Allison, you're pacing with a woman who once broke the bone in her leg that she is now running on.") We all hurt whether physically or emotionally; there wasn't a runner on the road today who didn't suffer through part of the race.
I had to trust that He would get me there. I found myself quoting scripture to myself, lifting my hands to Him when I really needed a push, and even crying at the beginning as we all set off to finish the race strong to show that love really will prevail.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" 2 Timothy. 4:7.
"Anything is possible to him who believes." Mark 9:23
Over and over again I told myself, "I am not afraid." I've never run through pain like I did today, but there was no way that I was going to stop.
And as I came to the last 3 miles, my heart would say, "you're almost there, you've done it!" something else inside me would say, "you can't do it anymore. You're hurt and alone. Just stop." And over and over again, I felt God reassure me, letting me know that I was not alone. When I crossed the finish after 2 hours and 18 minutes on the road, I was emotional. I wanted to finish under 2 1/2 hours and even with my knee pain, I did it.
I thought I would feel like a million bucks when I was done, but I felt like I was going to die. I limped through the food lines, soaking wet and freezing. My sister and I met up, and she walked ever so slowly with me back to the car, where it was almost impossible to warm up.
I'm ready for more. I know this is just the beginning. And what a race to start with.
Today we ran together. Today we ran for love. Today we ran to remember. And yes, faith, love, and goodness will always prevail over evil.