Crossing The Finish Line {Guest Post}

**Alice finished her first ever half marathon and I got to witness her incredible strength in crossing the finish line. I asked her to do a follow-up post to her first post {here if you missed it} recapping the race from her perspective. 

Enjoy her beautiful words.  
The Chicago Allstate 13.1 marathon was approaching, the race I’d entered to run for Avishi and As Our Own. Months ago when I started training, I made a collage of photos of the As Our Own girls. I put it up by my treadmill to keep me inspired and focused on the reason I was running. They don’t put a name with the photos in order to keep the girls secure and to protect their privacy, but there was one in particular that was my favorite. It was of a little girl in a pink dress against a blue sky, her arms outstretched. They called the picture “Freedom,” and that’s exactly what it looked like. I developed that particular photo in a larger size, and each day when I ran, I would pray for little “Freedom” and the girls like her.

I carefully followed running guru Hal Higdon’s half-marathon training plan—running each day the miles he prescribed, building up to long runs on Saturdays until they were pretty much half-marathon length. I ran inside and outside. I ate what I was supposed to. I hydrated. I cross-trained. I rested when Hal Higdon told me to. I saved my last long run for two weeks before the race in order to reserve my strength. I was ready and pumped to run for Avishi.

I left my house the day before the race and excitedly anticipated meeting up with my BFF and coach, Jennie. She’s an expert runner, having done the Chicago marathon, several half marathons, and will be running the New York marathon this fall. We picked up our race packets and headed to the As Our Own meet and greet.

The most stunning moment happened when the staff said they wanted to show us a photo of Avishi, the little girl who wants to be a doctor when she grows up, so we could see for whom we were running. Yes. It was the little girl in the pink dress who I’d been praying for every day, opposite my treadmill.

Then the morning of Race Day came, and much of it is a blur. Our team met together, wrote on each other’s arms, prayed together, high fived, and got into our respective corrals for our wave starts.  
I was slotted for a later wave, but I got into Jennie’s earlier wave because it’s not an event for me unless I break at least one rule, plus there was no way I was running without my coach. We moved toward the start line, and I had that feeling of cattle being moved down the chute toward slaughter. There was no turning back now.

And we’re off! Mile 1 passes by in a blur.

Mile 2—I feel bad. Race nerves. Gatorade. Where is stupid Mile 3? It is so incredibly hot. I feel horrible. I’m never doing this again. Oh, there it is.

 Mile 4. I feel like trash. Where’s the happy running feeling? More grody Gatorade. Mile 5, where I usually feel awesome—I am sick and weak. My legs feel like I have the flu. Help me, Jesus, I can’t do this. In fact, some of the earlier wave racers are on their way back now. If I turned around with them, no one would know and I still would have run 10 miles. That’s an accomplishment, right? Man, I hate Gatorade. Mile 6. The turnaround is never coming. I going to pass out and/or possibly die. Am I running on the surface of the sun? Going through labor and childbirth two times is a piece of cake compared to this. At least I was lying down, and there was air conditioning. And drugs. 
6.6—the turnaround. There are cold compresses, a sprayer, and more Gatorade. There’s a story about Eric Liddell, the great Scottish missionary and Olympic athlete. He was running a race and got entangled with another runner and fell down. For a few seconds, he lay there on the course, dazed, until someone screamed, “Get up and run!” As I round the turn, the Georgia Mass Choir comes on my iPod singing, “Your Blessing’s Comin’ Through.” If you know me at all, you know that beneath my surface I have an inner black lady waiting to bust out, jump the pew, and run the aisles. I hear a voice scream in my own head, “Get up and run!” I have a mental breakthrough, I pick up my pace in time to the music, and feel better.  
Mile 7. Hot. Gatorade. I’m on the way back now. I see other As Our Own runners coming the opposite direction, and I high five them.

Where, oh where, oh where is Mile 8?

Oh good, the Mile 8 sign is coming up. Unbelievably, it’s not Mile 8—it’s Mile 9. I have run 9 miles! Gatorade. 

Mile 10. Jesus, please, please help me. I can’t do this. I grab two cups of water and pour them down my shirt. I will never erase the taste of Gatorade from my mouth.  
There are spectators along the route, cheering for As Our Own runners. I wave to them, and they shout “Run for Avishi!” and clap.  
Mile 11. Now there are people on their own happy Saturday morning runs and bike rides. Not only is my bad hip on fire, the other one is, too. I consider throwing myself in the path of an oncoming bike. If I’m dead or at least seriously maimed, I won’t have to finish this thing, right? I guess that wouldn’t be so nice to the biker though. Mile 12. Oh, sweet, sweet, Mile 12. At mile 12.5, there is a group of As Our Own supporters yelling, “Go get ‘em! Only half a mile left!” It spurs me on. 

I hit the part where the cattle chutes are that I had left a couple hours earlier. I clicked my iPod forward to my favorite Travis Cottrell song, a rockin’ number called “Your Name” that the girls and I listen to on the way to school almost every day. I’m running toward the finish line. I see my family—my awesome husband who has encouraged me for the last nine months. My brother and sister-in-law who high five me. My beautiful girls with their pompoms and their poster saying, “Run Mommy Run!” My friends.  

Mile 13.1. And there it is—the big sign that says “Finish.” I see Alysa taking pictures, her sweet kids, and I hear her husband Jack cheering me on. I cross the line and hear the announcer call my name. (They don’t call everyone’s name, just random people. Darren thinks they were so thrilled to not have to say something like “Angelik Stanislovkinaus,” that when they see something easy like “Alice Daniels” they pounce on it. It was thrilling, nonetheless.)  
Iced Gatorade. Nothing ever tasted so good in my life. 

That was it—my half-marathon experience. And then it was over. I doubt I’ll ever run a race like that again. It was hellacious, and I hated it. It was terrifying how different it was from training. But I did it—I ran my race, and some day there will be a wonderful doctor in India named Avishi—God let me have a tiny piece of that, and that is the best part of the whole experience   .  

I also learned to run and to love it, albeit now I think I’ll stick to 3- to 5-mile runs along the river near my house, listening to my praise music and gaining strength for all the things I need to do. Running has helped me with the huge boulder of grief I have carried around since 2010 when I lost my mom. Because of running, the boulder is no longer tied around my heart—it just sits alongside me where I stop and lean against it frequently. The greatest lesson of all I learned from more words of Eric Liddell: 

“Victory over all the circumstances of life comes not by might, nor by power, but by a practical confidence in God and by allowing His Spirit to dwell in our hearts and control our actions and emotions. Help me in the day when I need it most to remember that: 
  • · All things work together for good to them that love the Lord. 
  • · I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  •  · My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. 
Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever, Amen.” 

Or in other words … get up and run!  
{Alysa here -- I just have to say that ONLY Alice would apply lipstick within minutes of completing 13.1 miles. This picture SO captures her NEED to have lipstick on at all times. The girl feels naked without lipstick. I simply do not understand. But I love her for it! I love you, Al!}


alice said…
Hey, my mama was watching! She would not want me to go that long without lipstick on. :-)
Alysa said…
True, Alice, true. Your mama would have been proud of your every step AND your move to strategically put lipstick on PRONTO after the race. Never to be without!
Danny Lucas said…
You are an awesome friend Alysa!

And I stopped at the picture of Lucy and Elaine.....Alice no longer has babies, but young girls. They grow too fast!

But in the years Alice and I wrote emails of events with worldwide in impact, I have learned a secret for Judgement Day.
Here is my tip:

On the Day of Judgement, stand one spot IN FRONT of Alice and get your own judgement out of the way. Why?
When God judges Alice, her life, her deeds, her heart, her love, I am afraid it will take half of eternity for Him to get through it all, (perhaps even run out of accolades) and everyone standing behind her will be more tired standing, than Alice is running.

Do NOT disregard this tip.
You will thank me in heaven as you SIT, instead of STAND, while God gives Alice her love from Him in judgement.

I appreciate the pictures.
It takes a real friend to seize a moment, and capture it for all to keep and treasure forever.
Memories pale to Kodak moments.

I suspect Avishi was able to feel the love for her, half way around the globe.
God bless all of you abundantly!

Best regards,
Danny Lucas

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