I’m training for my fourth half-marathon. Saying that is crazy. I never even knew I could run.
At six years of age, I became an inhaler-carrying member of the Cool Kid Club. I was diagnosed with allergy- and exercise-induced asthma. And I’m allergic to everything under the sun – grass, pollen, dust, ragweed, cats, dogs (I have a tolerance to them, thank goodness)…everything.
I went to elementary school in the suburbs of Maryland, where running “the mile” in gym class was through a huge grassy field. Considering my two triggers for asthma, I never had to run it. The gym excuse note that so many envied was a reality for me! I should have made copies of it and sold them. Juvenile entrepreneurship at its finest.
Anyway, fast forward to 2008 – I can run casually, but nothing huge. I heard about an idea called “101 goals in 1001 days” – it’s exactly like it sounds. I decided that one of those goals would be to run a 5K. My dog, Sugar, had just died, and I wanted to run the Richmond SPCA 5K in honor of her.
So I ran the Couch to 5K program (highly recommended) and finished my first 5K in 34:28. It felt great, except for the part where I tried to sprint at the end and dry heaved. Made for some ATTRACTIVE photos, too. I decided that this running thing wasn’t so bad, especially with a goal in mind, and ran a few more 5Ks, the Monument Avenue 10K, and a few more 5Ks after that.
Then the Baltimore Half-Marathon came calling.
Jumping from 3.1 to 6.2 to 13.1? Adding a 10-miler to a 5K in ONE RACE? Blasphemy. But I wanted to do it.
So I did. I ran the Baltimore Half-Marathon, the Frederick Half-Marathon, and the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon, where I currently reside. Each was challenging yet fun. (Yes, I just said running 13.1 miles is fun. Remind me of this as needed.)
So why The Heavenly Prize? Because when I run, especially when I’m feeling challenged, I feel God very strongly encouraging me. One of my life Bible verses has become “I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize.” (Philippians 3:13) Yes, there is an end to the running race, but more broadly I’m focusing on the race of life. I receive a prize when I run a race, but the real prize at the end of life’s race will be meeting the Lord.
One of the reasons my faith is strong is because I’ve had plenty of things to test it. One of the reasons my body is strong is because I’ve had plenty of things to test it. These two things are connected!
And yes, I have good days and bad days with both faith and my body. But I choose to stay positive on both fronts. So this blog is here to document that.