Sunday, January 18, 2015

Finishing the Race

As I have mentioned before, our oldest child runs cross country.

He did NOT get that running gene from me.

At all.

I have been pushing myself to run around the school twice without dying.  And I am not there yet.

This kid actually likes running.

The other day I asked him how his afternoon was. He was happy. They had run 7 miles.

I will admit, it sounds like crazy talk.

At the same time, I am so glad he has found something he likes to do.

And I admire him for it.

The one thing he has always said though is that he will ONLY run cross country. He has never liked track.


Sometimes in cross country, they practice on the track.

And those are his least favorite days.

So imagine my surprise when he announced one night that he had track practice the next morning.

Say what???

Then a few days later, he announced he was NOT running track.  Ever.

Then a few days later, we again heard, "I have track practice in the morning."


Yes, we were too.

Apparently the cross country coach is also one of the track coaches.

And he has encouraged the cross country kids to run track to stay in shape.

And apparently, my runner child looks up to his coach.

So he agreed.


So fast forward to yesterday afternoon.

The first track meet.

Thankfully it was local and even better..inside.

Hubby and I had to tag team this weekend. Our oldest daughter had a volleyball tournament in Tulsa. Our younger volleyball player had two games here. And then we had this track meet. So he took the youngest child to the volleyball tournament in Tulsa, while I stayed here with the other two for their activities.

Before he left, Hubby said, "Just to warn you, track meets can be boring. There is a LOT of waiting around for events."

Well, our day was full yesterday. I made my weekly grocery store trip, put my refrigerated/frozen items away, then quickly headed to the youth center so child 3 could have her volleyball pictures.  Then we waited around for a little bit until it was time for her to play two matches.  After that, we returned home just in time to grab a little snack, pick up child 1, and get the pup in her crate.  Then we raced down the road to the University's indoor track.  (While the weather was quite nice for mid-January, a track meet outdoors would have been rather chilly)

Just getting to the track center was a huge feat for me. I did not go to the University, so I am not at all familiar with their campus. I had an idea where the track center was but would NOT have found it without my oldest child.  And parking at big events makes me break out in a sweat. Yes.  Seriously.  But somehow I managed. We parked (quite a ways away because there were 1600 participants present) and entered the facility.  Thankfully we spotted the coach almost immediately. He estimated that Child 1's first event would start in about 45 minutes.  We left our runner to get his bib number and warm up, then we found a place to sit.

This is where the fun begins.

No, not the actual track meet, though I enjoyed a lot of it too.

The fun "God happenings".  Little moments I looked back at later and thought, "Wow, that was such a God thing."

We just chose a place to sit where I felt like we would have a fairly good view.  I saw nobody I knew.

It turns out my son's high school group had their stuff there and they ended up sitting in that same section throughout the afternoon/evening.

So at this point, we were pretty fresh and eager to watch.  We really enjoyed the pole vaulting and hurdles.  Then the races started.

Did I mention there were 1600 participants?

We watched several races.  And time passed.

Finally, finally, finally, it was time for Child 1's first event...the 1 mile run.

Three hours after we got there.

My son's goal for himself was to not come in last.

And he didn't.

He didn't come in first either but that is okay.

Like I said, he isn't crazy about track.  Speed is not necessarily his strength.  Perseverance is.

At this point, my parents had arrived, then my dad had to leave to go watch a basketball game.

So my mom came to sit with us.

God happening #2.

I have been wanting to spend more time with her, and finally had that opportunity!

By now, I was understanding how the track world is.  It truly is a lot of waiting.  And I knew my son's second event was almost at the end.  We were all hungry, and child 3 was quite restless. Though the bleachers were nice, I was quite sore after a few hours.  And I had promised the kids Chick Fil A (a rare treat for us) for dinner.

I quickly looked up the closest CFA's hours. They closed at 10.

I did some quick math in my mind, realizing that we would probably be finishing child 1's last event at 10.

Did I mention how hungry we were? I had eaten breakfast then a quick snack mid-afternoon. No lunch.

While there were concessions, I had resisted them because I really thought we would be done around 8, ready to eat our Chick Fil A.

What to do, what to do.

My son's second event (the 3000 meter run which is basically a 2 miles run) was finally coming up.  But I knew he was in the third heat, cutting it really close with the restaurant's closing time.

And that is where the God happening #3 occurred.

I watched as the second heat prepared to run and realized my son was in the group. They had decided to combine the second and third heat.

The gun went off, and the runners started.

I knew from the first lap that my runner was spent. He was exhausted (LONG day) and hungry. He just couldn't get his momentum up at that point.

But you know what?

We all just cheered him on.

It warmed my heart up to hear his teammates cheering for him no matter where he was in line.

And finally he finished.

That is when God happening #4 occurred.

As my son left the track, I saw another kid run over and shake his hand.

I asked him later who it was.

"A random stranger, someone from another school, who congratulated me for finishing."

Warmed my heart. Big time.

At this point, my restless girl and I ran to our car (mostly, I had to stop to catch my breath a few times because as I have mentioned, I am NOT a runner) then pulled up to get my mom and worn out runner.

We hurried to Chick Fil A, arriving fifteen minutes before they closed.

We placed our order, then drove to the window to pick up the food.

God happening #5.

"The people in front of you paid for your order, a kind of Pay It Forward thing..."

I almost started crying.

Our order was 31 dollars.

I so wish whoever it was could know how they warmed my heart. Many times over.

We went on home, worn out but grateful for the day.  It was extra special because my mom came home with us to eat, a rare treat.  Child 1 was quite entertaining in his exhaustion.  Lots of laughing and devouring of food.

This morning in church, I mentioned the track meet in relation to life.

We run this race, exhausted and sometimes in pain.  But we keep our eye on the finish line.  Heaven.  And finishing the race is worth it.

My Sunday School teacher pointed out that Paul never said that winning was the goal.

Our goal is to finish the race.

Which is exactly what my son did.
2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Thank you, God, for the reminders of the good You have created.  For restoring my faith.  And for encouraging me in this race of life.

More later,

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