I do not typically wave my personal beliefs flag around when I ramble publicly in writing or in person. I'm not ashamed or afraid to share- perhaps it's kind of for the same reason that I don't jump on my husband's (or my son's) facebook page and say go on and on with love and praise. If I have a personal relationship, I don't have a desire to broadcast my emotions to the world. I believe that my actions and my deeds will show how I feel. Words are just so over used. I can say "thank you" when a cashier accepts payment and gives me change and I can say the same words when someone risks their own life to save mine. I think there's some injustice there. Totally not the same.
That preamble was supposed to lead in to the fact that I ran the Long Island Half Marathon on Sunday. In earlier posts, I shared that I always run with purpose. It's never JUST about running. I had to find reason for this half marathon. I needed something to fuel me and make the distance and time worthwhile. My first marathon is just about a month away and I kind of had no business trying to run a PR half.
I believe that prayers are heard. It concerns me that most people think that prayer is all about asking for favors from God. It isn't all about a wish list. I cannot imagine how it would make me feel to ask over and over and over for what I want for myself and for others. It might make me feel like I'm lacking. Deprived. In need. Unfulfilled. Much of prayer ought to instead be praise, gratitude and thanksgiving. If you reflect on what you have you can't help but realize how much you are privileged with. My last entry boasted the news of my newly wedded-ness.
I left some stuff out...
We flew to Las Vegas on a Sunday and were to return on a Friday. All five of us. Prior to this trip, my sons (ages 13, 12, and 9) have never been on an airplane. EVER! This was a big deal not only because I was getting married, but because this trip would bring them farther away from their father than they had ever been in their lives. We all had a blast in Las Vegas. Anyone who says you can't enjoy yourself there with children has no idea what they're talking about. We didn't gamble and barely drank. We didn't feel the need to. (plus all of that kinda gets in the way of training, doesn't it?) It's a long, drawn out, detailed story, but catching the flight home was a mess. We barely got to the airport in time and I had to return our rental car. I dropped the four of them off at the gate and told them to hold my seat on the plane. I was misdirected and redirected and misdirected and redirected by well meaning airport and TSA employees. I ended up missing our flight. When it was clear that the plane would depart without me, I listened to my baby cry on the phone and my husband assure me that he would take care of him and cheer him up and make sure that he didn't spend the entire flight (that had a stop/transfer) worried about me. I spoke to my older boys and assured them that I would be on the next flight and see them home soon. They assured me that they wouldn't worry and asked me not to worry about them worrying about me. (read that again, it totally makes sense)
I got lucky and got a flight into Philadelphia that would arrive only an hour after my men arrived in Newark. Perfect. Onward. I hang out in the airport for a couple of hours, get on a plane and get off in Philly only to see an onslaught of text messages and voice mails from my husband as soon as I turn my phone back on.
Their stop was in St. Louis. Yes. During the tornado. While the airport was struck by the F4 tornado, my sons and new husband were on an airplane waiting to depart. Needless to say, the plane never took off and they were asked to exit in a not so calm and not so organized manner. Their flight was canceled. The main terminal shattered to bits. People injured. There was a power outage and a gas leak in the airport where my nine year old boy curled up on the floor in exhaustion. My boys. It was enough that they had to take off in a plane without me. And now this. I read my oldest son's facebook updates and my heart sunk. They're out there without me. Scared and uncertain. I should have been with them. They are amidst an unfathomable event and the comfort of their mother is no where within reach.
This was my fuel. This was my purpose during the half marathon. I already ran out of words to describe how bad their experience in St. Louis was. But words fall so short in expressing my gratitude. I ran this half marathon as a physical display of gratitude. Think of it. My boys were unharmed. They witnessed no physical trauma- not a single horrifying image of maimed or injured people has been burned into their young minds. Their shuttle bus drove through the aftermath and they saw no horror beyond material items destroyed. They were not in the terminal that was shattered. They were not in an overturned vehicle. And while their plane was shaken violently, not a hair on their heads was harmed they left St. Louis with my loving and patient husband(two days later)unscathed. All I could do was pour my heart into this run. I couldn't possibly say "thank you" in prayer and expect that such an over used nearly meaningless phrase might come close to expressing my pure gratitude. My body felt strong and alive because my children and husband were safe. I barely recounted the "what if's" in my head, but I know that they are there. Anything could have happened. But the only thing that matters is that they got home to me. My feet, knees, hips, legs were fueled with gratitude. When pain or discomfort crept in, I practically laughed it off- nothing could slow the joy from pouring out of me. My husband and my sons all saw me off at the start and my baby finished the last half mile with me. I know God saw his wide confident stride and smile- my son was not crying or curled up in fear hundreds of miles from the comfort of his mother. He is by my side. He is running and alive and excited. As am I.
This is why I knew the PR was in the bag no matter what. It is no coincidence that I'm smiling or laughing in all almost all of the photos captured by the course photographers.
When I think of the difficult miles of that race, my heart overflows with joy. Perhaps this run was an act of worship and praise for the blessing of life. As I hit "publish post" this will be the first time that I share the magnitude and meaning of my 13.1 mile journey through Long Island with anyone. Part of me hesitates because my faith is so personal and deep and intimate that sharing my heart here makes me fear that it appears artificial. I don't know a better time to connect with your beliefs than when you are alone and willing your body forward with the strength and might that you are blessed with.
This is why I run.