Some of you are aware of my running "passion!" I've been an avid runner for 11 years. I began running the day after I stopped teaching school full-time. I was inspired by the daughter of another kindergarten teacher. I thought, if a 10 year old can run 3 miles, I should be able to as well! Thus, the journey began!!
Fast forward to last February. Two friends of mine and I decided to tackle the Black Mt. Marathon in NC. We trained diligently and were prepared. We arrived at Black Mt. which is a darling little town nestled right beyond Asheville. All of the businesses had signs welcoming the runners--which was really a ploy to entice you to shop in their stores!! We took the bait! The strange thing that the shop owners continued to ask was, "Are you running the short race or the long race?" Well, y'all, I've always considered 26.2 miles "a fer piece!" In addition to the marathon, the Mt. Mitchell Challenge 40 miler was also offered. We had already deemed those people "looney" for attempting anything further than a marathon. Who would do such a thing? But the comments of the short race sorta got under our skin. We ran the marathon, didn't see any bears, and no one fell off the side of the mountain. We had a ball!!
Soon after, something started bouncing around in our heads. Could we possibly attempt and complete something like a "long race?" Hmmm....it even says in Matt. 19:26 that "with God all things are possible." We prayed about it, tossed it around some more, and offered it very tentatively to some other running buddies. We decided to give it a shot...what did we have to lose?
Last July, we began a strict regiment of training...hill work and long runs in the mountains on trails, speedwork on the tracks and regular road runs. We threw in a little bit of biking...not much. There were five of us who decided to give it a go. Three of us lived a few minutes apart, and our other precious friend lived in Roanoke, Va.--5 hours away. The ultra trail run was to take place near Lynchburg, Va. The race director, David Horton, is a Christian, a professor at Liberty University, and an accomplished trail runner himself. He is known throughout the ultra community as a little extreme. He "guesstimates" some of his distances. The race that we were training for, Mountain Masochist Trail Run 50 Miler--MMTR for short--was actually 54 miles. These Horton miles are famous in the Lynchburg area!
Y'all, even with all of the training, we had no idea what to really expect. We were all novices. This can be a little unnerving! We packed up our families and drove to Lynchburg to give it a go! All I can say is that having family support if the only way to try something of this magnitude. I learned many valuable lessons during this time! Another post for those!
We began the race in the dark wearing headlights to see our footfalls...we did start on pavement before we hit the trails. The sun had come up by then. Y'all, the scenery was magnificent, the volunteers just awesome, and the weather nearly perfect. God was simply all over the place! I could tell though that my breathing wasn't quite right...I assumed it had to do with the altitude as we climbed the mountains. The other four girls were doing fine, so I didn't complain. Miles down the trail, I was still struggling with the breathing. Another gal was experiencing stomach difficulties--that's all I'll say! Use your imaginations!! The other three were hanging in there. We continued to be blessed with encouragement throughout the day by seeing our families, our kids, and families of new friends--runners we met along the trail. You can share so much with strangers about your life and your faith while running for hours without interruptions! The majority of trail runners are out there on the trails for the beauty. No car fumes, no crazy drivers, no competitive runners vying for a prize...just the magnificence of the mountains that our Lord spoke into place. If I only ran trails for the rest of my life, I'd be thrilled. The difference is amazing.
Tomorrow, my precious friend (with the stomach issues from last year) is going back to revisit MMTR. She has prepared differently and is so strong! She is awesome. We are all so proud of her! I would just like to encourage you to keep her in your prayers on Saturday--from sunup to sundown. I know that she will finish strong this year. There are many things that she has to drive her. The biggest is a 12 hour cutoff. She will be pulled from the race if she doesn't meet certain timed cutoffs at the aid stations. That happened to three of us last year. By the time they pulled me, I was quite fine with being asked to stop the race! I was worn slap out! The next day, my breathing issues had turned into one of the worst sinus infections ever! But...God is GOOD! He allowed me to run the race..to run with perseverance. I'll be forever grateful to my Holy Father for that!
I found this quote that I shared with Robin--who is running Saturday. I'd like to share it with you. Some of you may have seen it before, but it's SOO good, I want you to see it again!
"You are most fully alive when you are on an adventure with God." Erwin McManus
We can be on an adventure with God everyday, every minute, if we want to. I do!!! How about you?
Thanks so much for lifting up my precious friend in prayer. Her husband, Scott, and our other friend, Jackie, will be with her. They all would appreciate your prayers.
Scott and Robin