Today is one of those days that you want to have forever. I completed my first “Tough Run” – a local 5k to raise awareness about veteran suicide.
Our kids have done several Tough Mudder races – one day I will do one with them. In the meantime – this was my introduction. The website said to “plan on uneven terrain, water, mud, hills, and various obstacles”. Truth in advertising! This is so far outside of my comfort zone, that I was questioning my sanity right up until the gun went off. I was figuring one step at a time, and after all – they did say you could walk around any of the obstacles you weren’t comfortable with. I was feeling more than a little envious of all the people that were doing the race with friends – but hey – it’s only 3 miles, right?
At the first obstacle, I met my first blessing of this event. Dottie (an angel, I know this for sure!) offered her hand as I was coming down the wall, and after introductions, we discovered that we were both solo on this event. This was God’s first Grace Lesson for me. A hand extended in friendship is a precious gift. This special woman shared her journey with me, and I shared mine.
I lost count of the obstacles – there was one that I couldn’t master. It was a half wall that required you to push up with your arms and swing your legs over. I tried – but couldn’t achieve it – YET. I climbed up on things, and then slid down. Those things included walls, cargo nets, huge rocks, giant tires, drain culvert pieces…and probably a few more that escape me for the moment. We climbed up hills of soft sand, and picked our way down washouts filled with sticks, logs, rocks, and roots. We slid through mud, waded through water, and crawled through a tunnel filled with mud and water. We walked across telephone poles that were raised up (think balance beam). For those of you that know me, you know that heights are a real challenge for me. I almost bailed on the poles, and Dottie mentioned she didn’t like heights. We helped each other, in turn, across the poles. Amazing! It wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be. When she stumbled, I helped her. When I stumbled, she was right there. Time/pace wasn’t at all important. Tackling and conquering the obstacle was the joy.
The volunteers along the route were blessings as well. Their encouragement was sincere, their enthusiasm was contagious, and their smiles were infectious. This was another Grace Lesson – I want to volunteer at an event and be this kind of encourager.
The Grace Lesson that I didn’t expect (actually, there are two) – the first one – was that I was going to meet myself out there. At each obstacle. I realized that each one presented a choice – to tackle and overcome – or simply walk around. My choice. Take the chance or leave it. How strong am I? Easy or hard? (For what it’s worth, I gave up on the choice to stay clean or not at the first mud puddle!) If I could make the choice to do the hard option in this 5k, I can certainly take that skill with me beyond this race. Doesn’t matter who else knows when I take the hard option – what matters is that I know. I don’t have to have experience, or skill to do it. I lost count of the number of things I did today that I’ve never done before, and/or didn’t think I could do. You know what? I. AM. PROUD. OF. MYSELF.
The second unexpected Grace Lesson came on the ride home. Bill, being the wonderful, supportive husband that he is – he drove me and acted as my support/cheerleader/photographer. I was talking (A LOT) about how much I enjoyed the experience. He looked at me thoughtfully and told me that I have spent most of my life trying to do the right thing, please others, and be what I thought was “right” or “good”, do things perfectly. He said that this event was different than that. I allowed myself to try, to not do things perfectly, and allowed myself to enjoy what I was doing. I had to think about that for a bit, and I am amazed (again) at how smart and perceptive he is.
A few other Grace Lessons:
-One of the obstacles was carrying sandbags a short track around a flagpole. I’m guessing they were maybe 15#? Anyway, with one in each hand, I thought about Walter telling me how heavy the gear is that soldiers wear in combat. Those sandbags weren’t even close.
-I am so blessed to have my family’s love and support. They listen and tolerate my ramblings and joys.
-I am stronger and more capable than I realize.
-Listen to stories from other people – so much to learn and appreciate.
-BBQ pork nachos from Sparks BBQ and Gatorade are amazing race food!
As I mentioned, the race today was to raise awareness about veteran suicide. There was a strong emphasis on “no person left behind”.
Statistics presented today at the event were that 22 veterans a day commit suicide. We were all encouraged to participate in a “22 Push” at the end of the awards ceremony. There were very few people on the event grounds that were not on the ground doing 22 push-ups. The event was closed by reading a list of local veterans that were victims of suicide, and then Taps.
The Grace Lesson here is a no-brainer. Look around, be aware – reach out your hand and encourage someone. Listen to their story. Everyone should have at least a couple “someones” to reach out to – or have those “someones” reach out to them. These men and women protected our freedom – let’s protect them.
Bling Grace Lesson – there were no finisher medals for this race. The top 3 finishers in each of 4 categories received medals. This one wasn’t about the bling that you wear around your neck. This one was about the bling in your heart – about learning what you are capable of, and how you can reach beyond yourself. This just might be my most favorite bling I have in my collection!