Rooted In Wonder:
Nurturing Your Family's Faith Through God's Creation
Master Naturalist, Bible teacher, author, wife, and mama of four! Join our adventures of discovering God while adventuring in creation.
That’s what I kept telling myself as I prepared for my first race which took place this morning.
I kept down playing the race. Whenever my husband would mention it, I’d kind of shrug it off; “It’s just a 5k.” I would tell him. “Eryn,” He’d stop me and make sure he had my attention. “It’s your first race!” I’d smile. But it really was only a 5k. I knew I could run the distance; I’d covered double the distance in my recent training runs. And so I felt a little silly to make any big deal out of what I considered an insignificant distance.
Really, when it came down to it, I was being prideful.
Anytime the race came up, I wanted to throw out an excuse for its insignificance. “It’s just a test run,” I wanted to say, “to see how my body handles the actual excitement and the crowds at a race.”
You see, I have a disease. When I was 13, my immune system became a bit confused, and attacked my adrenal glands thinking they were a foreign object, until they were completely destroyed, leaving me with the incurable Addison’s Disease. Not only can my body not produce adrenaline, but I also cannot produce a very important hormone called Cortisol.
Cortisol is responsible for handling stress, whether that be emotional or physical; it plays the key role in helping the body manage stress. A person’s adrenal glands produce Coritsol, adjusting the amount depending on a person’s level of stress, in order to help that person thrive, and, well, stay alive under stress.
In short, my body has zero ability to manage stress. I have to daily self-monitor my stress and dose myself accordingly with cortisol hormone replacement steroids. Hence the need for a “test race” to help me understand how my body responds to the stress and excitement of a race, and how to dose myself accordingly before our big half marathon in November.
And so I found myself a bit prideful at the starting line. I even positioned myself pretty close to the front in the lineup. But then they blew the horn. And a half mile into the race, I realized I had done what I had feared I would: I let the excitement of the crowd and competition get the best of me. I started off too fast; too strong.
My pacing app voiced over Pandora to let me know I was running a 7-minute mile, which was much faster than I had planned to run. That may seem like a good thing, but it’s not–not that early in the race anyways. On top of my too-fast pace, the first half mile was uphill, which I had not anticipated or trained well for. And so only a half mile in, I was struggling. Hard.
I began thinking I might not finish. Or, at least not well.
I was still dragging myself along as I passed the 1-mile sign. I had only gone 1 mile. A mix of thoughts began running through my mind, from “Why in the world am I doing this?” To, “Do I actually want to be a runner?” To, “I’m never going to run a half marathon!”
Shortly after 1 mile I had to stop and walk. I had wanted to run the whole course without walking. Instead I moved to the right of the road, slowed my pace and began to walk. Humility washed over me as my fellow runners passed me on both sides.
But then from the left came a fellow runner I had met at the starting line. She had tapped me on the shoulder, pointing to my running belt which holds my water bottles, and joking that she was going to follow me because I had the water. This was her first 5K also; and she, like me, was using this as a milestone towards a bigger goal. She is signed up for a triathlon in July.
And so as I was walking, trying to win in the mind-over-matter game playing in my head and force my legs to run, she passed me and looked over, “Come on!” She encouraged, “You can do this!” Somehow those few little words gave me courage. Resolve. Strength.
And I began to run.
Mile 2 came and I slowed again to walk, but only for 10 seconds before remembering my fellow runner’s words of encouragement, and picking up my pace again to a run. With my two 15-second walking interim’s, and with runners passing me left and right, I knew I was at the back of the pack. But after all, I told myself, my goal was to finish, and to see how my body handled an actual race.
At 2.5 miles something came over me. Just knowing I was .6 away from the finish line propelled me forward. I was going to do this! And back of the pack or not, I was going to finish strong! I picked up my pace, which took a whole lot of will power as the last half mile was also up hill. I began to pass other runners. Just a few, but I wasn’t last!
And then I turned right and caught glimpse of the finish line, and under it the red blinking lights indicating time elapsed. My time. But my head was fuzzy, and all I cared about was that I was finally at the finish line, so the time didn’t register, I just began scanning the cheering crowd for my men. And there they were!
I crossed the line, smiled of course, then fell into my husband’s embrace. And stayed there.
And as he held me the rest of the race faded away, all the people, all the noise, all the fatigue–gone. And I noticed my husband was crying. And in that moment I realized that this was not just a 5K. This was not just a “test race”. This wasn’t even just a first race.
This was a victory against my disease. This was us beating the odds. This was us winning.
And then my husband held my shoulders and looked at me, “Did you see your time?” I had been so defeated by my slow run that I wasn’t sure I wanted to see it. But then he told me.
I had finished in 26:24, which was 36 seconds faster than my goal time.
And I had finished in 68th place out of 553 participants.
I finished number 27 of 367 females.
I placed fourth place in my division out of 37 females ages 20-29! Fourth place!
And I did this all while thinking I was at the back of the pack!
Today I had meant to just run. To just finish. But at the end, after I crossed the finish line and looked back, I realized I had actually raced!
And I did this all without adrenaline to carry me through or Cortisol to manage the stress.
Today I stopped listening to anything telling me I shouldn’t do this. I stopped listening to my disease. Stopped listening to the statistics. Stopped listening to the “maybe some day”‘s. And I began listening to my body, and then telling it who’s boss. I began listening to my husband, who tells me every step of the way that I can do it! And I started listening to the Word that tells me I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.
When I began running back in November, I could not run more than a half mile (and at a slow pace) without stopping. I began at square one. But it has to start somewhere.
It took a simple first step. Literally.
And then it took registering for a race.
And now I can tell you from experience – crossing that finish line, it’s worth every workout. Every walk. Every run. Because each of those are accomplishments. And crossing that line, whether you walk it or run it, and whether it is “just a 5K”, or a longer race, it feels incredible! So, what do you have to stop listening to today in order to cross that finish line?
And allow me to leave you with a few words a stranger left with me once, a few words that made all the difference in getting me to that finish line: Come on! You can do it!
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!