I was weak. I could go on and on about the reasons: the long work week; the previous day’s 6 hours of driving the girls team to Anchorage; the poor night’s sleep; the kids’ races . . . many of which did not go well . . . draining for me as one of their coaches. Physically, emotionally, spiritually . . . I was getting real close to the end of what I could handle. Sure, I had tossed out the idea of running in the open race after the kids’ races. Despite the fact that I had barely run in the last 2 months due to an injury, I love to race. But I was exhausted, and honestly wondering if I would be able to survive the drive back to Fairbanks. A 3.1 mile race seemed foolhardy and not very fun.
But as I pictured leaving the meet, I realized that if I left without running the race, I’d feel like I was disobeying God. This seemed a little weird to me and certainly not what I would consider conventionally wise, but I had little choice. So, with less than 10 minutes to the race and no warm up, I headed to the starting line.
As the gun went off and I started my watch I heard God say, “You won’t be needing to look at that. Just run.” Again, weird, but . . . whatever. Half a kilometer in I thought curiously about reasons God might have me run this race, and very clearly, I heard God say, “Because you worship me when you race, and I like that.”
A kilometer in and I was already getting tired. Another kilometer . . . if God hadn’t been by my side coaching me, I would not have believed I could do it, but I just kept running, finding it in me somewhere to pound the downhills. I know I’m strong on the downhills; I have speed. So I concentrated on making use of them. God must’ve taken over on the uphills because in retrospect I ran those very well. He knew what I could handle and took over for the rest. At any moment if I had considered how I felt or if I had thought about the distance yet to cover, I would have stopped in desperation, or at least slowed to a pace that felt safer. But I didn’t think about those things; I felt that they weren’t my concern. God was making me run so he could just worry about such trivialities as finishing the race.
600 meters from the finish line. There was nothing left in my body and no courage left in my heart to look for any last remnants of strength. I am pretty sure that even if I looked for it — and how difficult would that be! — I wouldn’t be able to find it. I said to God, “If there’s a kick in me, You’re going to have to find it. I can’t.” and I kept running . . . and passing people, though I was barely aware of it. Physically it was agonizing. Mentally I had long since let go and just done what God said. 100 meters left and I passed 2 or 3 people in a clump. I sprinted in, following the kid I’ve been leapfrogging for 3 kilometers. For the first time in the race I saw the clock as it stood beside the approaching finish line. Was that time possible? I was only a minute slower than my personal best, which was run on flat roads when I was in prime condition, not on hilly trails after months without training. I ran, ran, ran . . . and then I was done; leaning on my knees, gasping for breath, spent and incredulous. The fact that I finished the race was miracle enough to me; this time seemed impossible.
As I stumbled exhausted through the finish shoot, the first coherent thought since a couple minutes into the race came to me: “Kori, this is what I can do with you if you’ll just say yes. It does not matter that you have neither the strength nor the courage. All you have to do is say yes.”