By Kari Diane Pike
I'm not sure why I let my daughter talk me into participating in a 10K. I hadn't run a race since junior high! (Trust me...that was a long time ago.) Maybe because my life is soooo mundane and lacking in challenges (insert sarcasm here), I felt the need to set the bar higher. Once the decision was made though, I found that I really wanted to see it through -- even if I had to crawl across the finish line.
Seeing my determination to make
healthy lifestyle changes, my daughter-in-law Aprilynne offered to help
out. She used a cool app on her phone that analyzed my eating habits and
mapped out a nutrition plan for me to follow. Then she offered to be my
personal chef. She had a theory she wanted to try and wondered if I
would mind being her guinea pig. I don't know about you, but as much as I
love to cook, this was just too good to turn down. I accepted the challenge, and the service, and got to work.
We eliminated sugar, gluten, legumes and anything "fake" -- no preservatives or hormones. Just real, whole foods. Except for bacon. Did you know that bacon makes everything better? Next to chocolate, bacon has become one of my favorite comfort foods. I know it has other "stuff," but for the most part, eaten in moderation, bacon supplies some yummy, healthy fats my body needs to insulate those neurological connections. (and yes, I even get a little chocolate -- the pure, unadulterated stuff. Mmmmmm!)
I set up a training calendar and mapped out daily jog/walks. One of the perks turned out to be time to think -- to meditate, to pray, to listen to myself and to be open to inspiration. When the excitement of setting the goal wore off and reality set in, I thought about quitting. I experienced sugar "withdrawals" and thought about how much easier it would be to just slip back in to old habits. I pondered on my reasons for trying to improve my physical health. A scripture came to my mind about how everything physical was first created spiritually. I exercise my spirit as I study the scriptures, pray, worship, keep the commandments and serve others. I do physical exercises to keep my body in shape. Both physical and spiritual fitness take thought and planning -- and intentional action. The results I experience depend on the diligence and amount of effort I put in. When I take harmful substances into my body, or neglect to eat nutritional foods, I lose physical strength. When I participate in unwholesome activities, I lose spiritual strength and my ability to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I also recognized that as I grew in physical health, it became easier to pay attention to my spiritual needs, and vice versa.
At 8:30am, Saturday, October 27, I began my first 10K. I was okay when everyone blew past me in the first 100 yards. I was slower, but I knew I had staying power. I kept smiling when the first group of runners passed me again before I even got to the first turn around. No worries. I could see the water station up ahead and I figured I had gone at least 1.5 miles. When the water person handed a cup as I jogged by, she said "Congratulations on finishing your first mile!" I almost tripped. I wanted to cry. I was sure I had gone further. But I made the turn and kept jogging.
Discouragement set in really hard right about the end of the second mile. Two miles should not have been that hard! I did more than two miles almost every day. The temptation to tuck tail and hide swirled around me. That's when I heard the most amazing sound. The enthusiastic voices of five of my little grandchildren drifted across the park. "Go Grandma, Go! Go Grandma, go!"
Of course I had to keep going. I couldn't disappoint my grans! I put on my happy face and started jogging through the park and did my best to keep my head up as I ran past the kids. Their cheering echoed in my head for at least another mile. This was a chance for me to show them that it doesn't matter how long it takes to run the race. What matters is trying your best and not giving up. I noticed how all the other runners smiled and shouted encouraging words to each other. I thought about how even when I may not see others around me, they are there in the background cheering me on.
I found a rhythmic pace that was kind of a walk 12 steps, jog 12 steps. It helped me keep focused. But the sun blazed above the trees that before had offered shade and the breezes that earlier had been keeping me cool, died down. Sweat trickled into my eyes and blurred my vision. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ....1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ...My legs felt like they had sandbags tied around them. My hips felt the way my 90 year old Grandma looks when she tries to go up stairs. I tried to moisten my tongue with spit, but I didn't have anything left.
I came around a corner and heard a familiar whistle. I looked ahead and saw my husband walking toward me. When I met him, he turned and quickened his pace and jogged alongside me for a bit. I would slow to a walk and he would catch up and then encourage me to pick my pace up. Now it was tears that blurred my vision. I wondered if the love and euphoria I felt at that moment was anything like what we will feel when we reunite with our loved ones on the other side of the veil. Oh, what joy! When I had to turn off to go through the pedestrian tunnel that lead back to the park, Doug told me he was taking a short cut, and challenged me to beat him there.
I tried jogging again and felt a new surge of energy. I wasn't going to cross that finish line crawling. I was going to finish strong and on my feet. I know my pace was slow, but I felt like I was flying. When I got to the park, my family waved bright pink posters that read "Go Grandma!" One by one, they joined me in jogging to the finish. As we crossed the line, we shouted and waved our arms and did a happy dance. Oh...and I got lots and lots of hugs.
"You did it, Grandma! And you didn't even come in last! Look!" I looked down the path and saw a couple of other participants struggle toward the end. I grabbed Wesly's hand and we cheered them in.
I think I have a much better understanding of the importance of trials in my life. Trials take me out of my comfort zone and provide opportunities not only for growth, but to strengthen the very foundation of my testimony of Jesus Christ. Trials build my testimony, increase my knowledge, and help me gain greater insight and wisdom. Trials offer new perspectives if I will but ask for, and allow the Spirit to enlighten my mind along the way.
I finished something Saturday and it opened the door to many new beginnings!
What do you want to finish?