Sunday, May 8, 2011

Finish Well!

This weekend I had the opportunity to complete a task off my 'bucket list'. For the past 8 months, I have been training for the Indy 500 Mini Marathon. This race is 13.1 miles long. I have never been a runner in my past. In fact, I dropped out of track in high school because I was so awful and came in last at the first track meet. Hated it! But, this weekend...I FINISHED something that I NEVER thought I could do.

This medal is a symbol of great things accomplished! I was able to run (and walk some) this race in 3 hours which for this 46 year good!!! When I crossed the finish line, my mom and dad were yelling "That's my baby...gooooo, Beth!!!" It reminded me of what Jesus might say to me when I cross the finish line of life. I think he will be waiting for me in heaven saying the same thing "Goooo Beth, Come on!!! You are my child!!" And, my reward in heaven will be on such a greater level than the 'bling' of this life. I can't wait!!!

During the coarse of this life, we all need good friends to walk along side us. This is my long time friend, Elizabeth. She shared her gift of playing the harp at our wedding almost 14 years ago. We live right across the street from each other and I count her as one of my dearest friends. What a privilege it was to start this race with her. We walked the first 3 miles together, then I took off running.

I ran miles 4,5,6,7, and 8. In the middle of mile 8, I found a teacher friend from school and we were able to run the last of mile 8 and walk a little of mile 9 together. It is amazing how God puts people in your life at just the right time when you need a little support and encouragement. It was great to see her smiling face and run/walk the race with her for a few minutes. I needed to get running again so took off somewhere in mile 9 and ran to mile 10 and into 11. About that time I was feeling really bad. How much further to the end?? And, How can I finish this race?? I walked some/ran some then ran into my trainer friend, Mark, who has helped me train these last 8 months. This man is an amazing athlete and ran the 13.1 miles in 1 hour and 35 minutes. He had the energy to go back and find another friend about 1 1/2 miles from the end and helped her get to the finish line, then he came back somewhere in mile 10/11 (those last fainting miles are such a blur to me) to help me get to the finish line.

His encouragement was amazing but I was DONE at that a point and am afraid I wasn't a very good student! I tried to do what he said but my body heaved out NO very loudly. He even came carrying a bottle of Gatorade for me. Well, we ran and walked till we got to about 1/2 mile from the finish line!! I could see it!!! The end was in sight!!!! One day I will lay on my death bed between here and there and will be able to see the finish line of life. I wonder who will be with me at the end of this life. I hope it's my husband and dear boys! But, for this race, it was my friend Mark.

As we got closer, we could see my husband, son Ben and Mark's son. Doug was able to take these pictures as I jogged by. We were about 1/4 mile from the finish line. We kept going as best as we could....well, as best as I could!!! I'm sure Mark could have sprinted to the end. At the end of the day, he figured he ran nearly 20 miles. Amazing!

When we got this close, I could really see my husband and our oldest son, Ben. It brought joy to my eyes to see them at the sidelines cheering me on. I could have just cried. It was all I could do to not heave big tears. Ben and Mark's son asked if they could jump the barriers and run the last 1/4 mile with us. Wow.....what a comfort that was for this mama to have her son come and run along side her to the end. Honestly, I'm not sure I could have done it with out Ben!!!

As we got even closer, I could then see my parents and my mom shouting and waving her arms. The crowds of people lining both sides of the street were amazing. What a great reunion it was and it will be when we cross the finish line of this life. I'm sure those that have gone on before in this life will be cheering me on into those pearly gates. I think of my grandma shouting "Beth Ann Dear!!! Gooo" as I cross the finish line. And, if my parents pass before me...I'm sure my mama will be shouting the same words she did yesterday, "That's my Baby! Gooo Beth!!!"

As you go through the race of life, who is running beside you? Who are you turning to for help and support? What will your final prize be at the end of this life....eternity with Jesus or something else that is so painful it hurts me to even type it. I hope you know where you will spend eternity. There are only 2 possible choices: heaven or hell. Where will you be and how will you finish this race of life? I know I gave it my all yesterday. I have run more miles on another day of training but on the day of the race...I know I gave it my all. Do you give your all every day??

Overall, this was a wonderful experience for me. I did hurt and even cried at the finish line....mostly due to exhaustion, and the emotional experience of holding fast to a set goal, and seeing those alongside the road cheering me on to the end. Will I do this again? I'm not sure. The training was intense and long. But my sister told me yesterday that she thought she might want to get back into running and maybe next year she would do it with me. So, now I'm having second thoughts....maybe I will be out there again running the race for the prize with all my heart and soul.

Run well! Live well! Finish well!!