Monday, May 26, 2014

the run.

6:15am- eyes fly open at the sound of my alarm. Before making another move, I smile: it's race day. 

With running shoes safely stowed in my bag (after almost forgetting them altogether), we are en route to Tlaxcala. One quick nap later, the city in the mountains is laid out in front of us and we make our way up to the starting area.  

10:42am- the shot's been fired, the wave takes off, and we start up the steep village mountain, heart pumping, lungs burning, calves throbbing. 

Race day has a way of always reminding me of the night I watched Chariot's of Fire with my Jr. High track team.  In the movie, Eric Liddell said, "God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure." Right then, I pray that God would let me feel His pleasure, and that I would bring Him pleasure and bring Him glory through my running. 

We press onward. Townspeople sit on their roofs, crowd the lengths of the streets, some kids even tackling the obstacles, chasing after us. All the while, sending out loud whoops and cheers. 

Three young girls jump and wave,  calling out to me to "run, white girl, run!". 

Later, a group asks me where I am from. I say ''Chicago''; they hear 
''Chihuahua''. Immediately following are loud, joyful cries, "Chihuahua! Chihauhua! Chihuahua, Mexico!"

The kilometers stretch on: up rugged mountains, across obstacles, into dim-lit caves and tunnels, up and over waterfalls, and onward down the winding river. And here, mid-race, a misjudged jump from a waterfall has me flat on my back in the shallow water, bracing the knee that awkwardly twisted and popped. I lie still and motionless, afraid that any sudden movement will reveal the impossibility of completing the race. A half formed prayer comes to my lips as I hear men in the background call for the medics on horseback. 

The minutes roll by, bringing racers to pass me and stealing back the ground I gained on them. Then I remember my prayer in those first moments of the race. A prayer not to praise God through a victory that makes me look good, but to praise Him through the simple act of running. And I realize that in my shortcoming and feeling of failure, I have an even greater opportunity to bring Him glory. 

Somehow I find my way to my feet and despite the discouragement of time lost and a slowed pace, I discover the joy of running for His pleasure.

12:19pm- I cross the finish line. But only after jumping in one side of a bull pen and out the other, evading the angry horns pointed at me. Only after the back of my shorts got snagged on barbed wire, leaving me with a quarter sized hole in the rear. Only after feeling the full weight and exhaustion of 14 kilometers in the mountains. 

Only then did I realize what it truly meant to run for a pleasure other than mine. 
And it was so good. 

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