I know and love some of the greatest people you’d ever want to meet. The mix of those I call “friend” is a varied and colorful group encompassing folks of all interests, opinions, spiritual beliefs, passions, and ages. While differences in any of these areas can sometimes create difficulties to overcome in relationships, I’m starting to think age might be the hardest. I’m thinking this because of a group my friends, all under 30, who I fondly refer to as “The Young and Beautifuls”. (They are both of these things inside and out by the way.)
What makes them pretty on the inside are their kindness, their strong faiths, their commitment to their friendships and their marriages (best examples of young marrieds I’ve ever personally known), they are active in their communities and in our church and they’re just all-around good eggs.
However, over the past few months, I’ve discovered their dark side. They are all health nuts! Sometime last spring, my daughter and I were included in a conversation wherein the Young and Beautifuls were planning to run the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving Day together. My daughter, Rebecca, in a mildly-interested tone asked, “Can teenagers do it too?”
Now, I’m not sure which one of these dastardly kiddos responded, and I don’t want to know because I want to still love them all - (however, I do suspect it was the friend I call “Face”) – but someone did respond to Rebecca’s question with a, “Yep! I think it’s open to anyone 14 and up.”
The very next day, my usually sweet daughter says “Mom, we should do that marathon thing together. Don’t you think?” (Um, Nooooo, I do not.) I hesitated, but she was so eager about it. I mean, come on… for a 14 year old teen-age girl to want to do something with her Mother, and for that 14 year old girl to be the one to initiate the togetherness – with eagerness in her voice! Honestly, that’s just so rare! I admit it. I got drunk off of the “My Baby Still Loves Me!” feeling and I excitedly said “Yes! Yes! Let’s do it girl!”
It’s important to note here that as of last spring, I was walking only a couple of times a week, and a long walk for me was 3 miles. For the Half Marathon I will have to be able to endure a little over 13 miles, and I’ll have to run at least some of the distance or I won’t finish the event within the allowable time frame.
Oh, and I’m not super skinny….yeah, let’s say it that way “Not super skinny.” Yes, I like it. While we’re at it, I was also “Not very active.” My food intake was “Not Jenny Craig.” And, my preferred method of travel was “Not by foot.”
In any event, I’d agreed to the Marathon. I didn’t want to let Rebecca down (I still don’t want too). I knew I was going to have to give it my best shot, because I didn’t want her to see me give up (yet again). I wanted her to see that I am willing to do hard things, and that there are benefits to accepting and facing a challenge. So, during the last week in May, I printed off instructions for how to complete a half marathon via Run/Walk intervals. We started with 3 mile walks, gradually including short stretches of running. By the first week of August we were able to last right at 6 miles on our “distance day” (how’s that for learning the lingo?) and the running portions weren’t killing us. We were feeling pretty darn good about ourselves! Then… a setback.
Due to an unexpected and severe Kidney Stone attack and subsequent treatment, I was on bed rest for the first 23 days of September. When I wasn’t drugged, sleeping or in pain, I was worrying myself to the point of tears over the lapse in training. Every day the Half inches closer and closer, and there I was back on the couch. I started to realize that I didn’t like the couch anymore, it’d been so long since I’d seen it! I prayed, asking God to keep me strong and to keep me from losing ground. I had my small group pray for me. I read Hebrews 12 over and over. And I rested. I found physical rest in my bed. I found mental and spiritual rest in Him who saved me.
“So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs.” Hbr 12:13
Two days ago was my first foray back into training since the stones; I walked just over 2 miles with a friend. Yesterday, Rebecca and I put feet to the pavement. WE CLOCKED 7.5 MILES in 2 hours and 45 minutes! We have to go almost double this distance in 5 hours or less. We’re not there yet – but we have come very far. And guess what? We are not quitting.
“And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.” Hbr 12:1
We have a long way to go and a short time to get there. With the encouragement of friends, commitment to this race that we’ve dug up from the depths, and mostly by the sheer Grace of God – we may just finish this thing!