Friday, October 8, 2010

The Amazing Race

525 training miles completed. 20 remaining training miles. Then the starting line. October 17th. 26.2 miles.

The day before the race I will drive the course…picture what I will be doing at each mile. Counting every mile to the finish line.

The thing I love about running is that every mile is a victory. First place or last…running, walking, or is constant forward motion. Every mile is earned, and can never be taken away.

It's important to count your miles and know where you are. I learned this after the worst race I ever ran (to date, that is). It was 10 miles. I had never run over 7 miles, and never raced more than 3.

My strategy was to start with the front runners, running as fast and far as I could with them. That would carry me at least half way. Then I would gradually slow a little at each mile, still finishing at a good pace.

Stupid strategy.

I died, and died fast. I couldn't breath. Everything hurt. I lost track of were I was, had no idea what mile I was at. But just keep pushing. Finally I saw a mile marker…only one mile to go. I ran that last mile with everything I had in me.

That is when I realized there was a triathlon using the same trail, and I was reading their markers. I still had another 4 ½ miles.

Everything hurt. I was hurting in places I don’t even know I had. At the fluid stations I was throwing two cups of water on my face, and then gulping Gatorade. At mile 8 I got confused and threw Gatorade in my face. Now I really had to keep running…I was attracting bees.

It was a horrible race.

I think about that race when I see these kids fighting cancer. They are in a race for their lives, but are never told where the finish line is. They keep pushing and pushing, fighting with all they have. Parents sit and wait and hope and pray. Finally test results come in, only to be inconclusive. And the kids fight on.

Finally some make to the finish line. But the celebrations are guarded. Scans and test continue. Was the finish real? Or will we be told it was a false finish, and the race must continue?

These young people fight their way toward a finish line that moves and changes at will. Their strength and courage is amazing.

Christina O’Brian ran her race, and beat cancer. She won, and celebrated. Then doctors called to say she had relapsed. The finish line is moved, and the race was on again. So she ran and then won again. And then a 3rd time.

Now, Christina has graduated from high school and begun college. She said, "I can not believe this year and all of the things I have got to do. The good is starting to become more common. I would have never guessed in my wildest dreams that I would be a hockey goalie, star in my 2nd fashion show, and starting college. I am so happy to be where I am, and so glad I have had to fight to get here. Who doesn't have ups and downs growing up....Mine just had chemo involved."

And then doctors called again on Friday. It was all a lie. The finish was nothing but a mirage in a large empty desert. The race continues. So Cristina will do what she always does. She will step back into the race. And she will win again. And this time, God willing, she will cross the real finish line. I have no doubt. You see, a fighting goalie will never lose.

The Lord is with you mighty warrior. -- Judges 6:12