June 9, 2012

The One with a Personal Strawberry Race

Albion Free Methodist Run for God Group

This morning I ran my second 5k race--the Albion Strawberry Festival 5k--alongside 30 other green-shirted Run for God runners from our church and community. It was an exhilarating experience to be a part of something bigger than myself, bigger than a race. This group had trained together, learned from each other, broken through barriers alongside  one another. This race was the culmination of 12 weeks together. 

Praying together before the race and watching each runner cross the finish line was incredibly moving. I was nearly in tears as I cheered on one runner after another, a part of our larger body. God is so good. 


getting ready at the starting line with Brendan beside me.

In addition to the great cause of the race (CareNet crisis pregnancy center), and the Run for God victories, I had a few momentous achievements for myself. Ten years ago I never would have thought I'd one day be a runner. I was always clumsy, slow, and a tad bit chubby (just being honest.) I classified myself as "unathletic" for 25 years. I started running on my own in college--2005--but it wasn't until this past year that I began to see myself as an athlete. I thank God for the new found abilities I've discovered. May He be glorified as I keep my body--His Temple--in shape and in good working order. 

Right now, I am so thrilled (and a little nauseous, to be quite honest.) I blew my previous PR (personal record) out of the water with a time of 23:49!! That's a 7:41 mile pace (I had only ever run at an 8:12 pace in the past.)*

*If you don't have running knowledge or experience, the average person runs 3.1 miles (a 5k) in 30 minutes or at a 10 minute/mile. 

The one mishap (or possible "badge of honor" if you'd like to see it that way), was the vomiting. Yes, I threw up. Four times. On the final stretch, with the finish line in my sights and the announcer (a church friend) calling my name in front of the cheering crowd I felt the most unavoidable reflex occurring in my throat. I tried so hard to stop it. The first time, I subtly shook it off. (Don't ask.) The second time, just as I heard my friend, Karen, yell, "GO, MEL!!!" there it came. Gross. It was all I could do to make it to the finish line. Another friend, Diane, was eagerly waving me onward as she waited at the finish to snatch my number and clock my time. "You can do this!" her face said. And I ran to her with renewed motivation. In the nick of time, she tore off my number and I charged toward a trash can, retching again. 

Once I had time to recover from that experience and walk back to the cheering section, I was starting to feel oddly proud of my vomit experience. And apparently rightly so--I had at least 3 seasoned runners tell me that throwing up comes with the pushing-yourself-to-the-limit efforts. Alright. I'll take that badge of honor


Here's a few photos from the finishing area. You can vaguely see the distraught expression on my face in picture #1 and the second photo has Diane eagerly waving me forward (along with my 23:49 displayed on the clock. (I completely missed that huge digital clock as I was approaching. Totally oblivious.)


Thanks, Diane. I seriously think I would have stopped running if it weren't for you.

Later in the race, as finishers continued to poor in, other Run for God folks started encouraging the runners by running that last stretch with them. As I saw Sara (a friend, church goer, and piano student's parent) coming up the road, I ran out to her and encouraged her to finish. It was exhilarating for me to be beside a first time runner. 
Sara and Me

A few more Run for God people with Brian--a leader--helping them cross the finish line.

As we meandered over to the Awards Ceremony, someone ran up to me and said, "Melanie! You won!" I checked out the Winners Board and there was my name and my time--in first place of the 20-29 year old Females. I've never been so excited!!


Then, when I saw this Overall Finishers List, I was thrilled all over again--
19th Place out of 150 runners.
2nd Female Finisher by 39 seconds. 


Those are stats I am so proud of and completely overwhelmed to claim as my own. This afternoon, as I was recalling the day with my husband, tears streamed down my face when I described this experience. I have never felt so proud of something I've done, something I've worked so hard for, a gift only God could have given--and that I didn't even know I had. Running isn't a natural inclination for me. It is something I've learned to love, an exercise I enjoy, time to meditate and pray, the opportunity to push to the limit and compete with my own abilities. 

Glory be to God for these gifts. 


  1. So happy for you, Mel! I LOVE the picture of Diane encouraging you. That RIGHT THERE is what it's all about. Brothers and sisters cheering one another on to finish the race set before us, even when we don't think we have it in us. You all made ME proud, and more importantly, I believe you all made God smile. =)

  2. that is awesome... I'm dying to feel better so that I can give running another go! so proud of you!!

  3. Ran into your blog through Marsha Rivers' facebook post. I am so proud of you. You are an inspiration on so many levels. I haven't run (or even jogged) any where in about 15 years. After reading your story I feel like strapping my sneakers on right now and getting out there! Thank you for sharing. Aleka Schmidt, Medina NY


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