Before I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis last fall, I found my identity in being a runner but quickly, almost overnight, I lost the ability to run and for awhile, I lost a part of myself. It was about May of this year that I finally was feeling well enough to run again, but its been a struggle for me to find that groove, to ditch my ego about not being the runner I was before RA. Truth is, I am not the same person as I was before I was diagnosed with RA. The Lord really does use every thing for His glory, and through this trial, He's refined me and taught me so much about myself, including that I can do hard things.
When my mom asked me if I wanted to run the Turkey Day 5k on Thanksgiving, my mind immediately was flooded with the reasons I shouldn't. I thought to myself how much slower my 5k time would be than it was a year ago. I doubted I could run the entire 3.1 miles without a walk break because recently, my runs had been full of having to take a break because I didn't feel I could go on. I told her maybe, but when she asked again a week later, I said yes before I had a chance to say no.
The week before the race, I ran two times, with no walk breaks. One of my runs I listened to a church sermon on my iPhone, and on another run, I dedicated each mile to praying for someone. That day, I prayed for my friend Kathleen, I prayed for my husband, and I prayed for a co-workers marriage who was hurting. By Thursday, race day, I felt confident and excited. I told myself to beat my normal, average day run pace of between 10:38-10:42 and try and run a 10:30 mile.
Race day came, I bundled up and my supportive husband brought the camera and cheered me on. Each mile I ran, I thought to myself how truly grateful I was to be running. I thought of the amazing fact that someone with a degenerative joint disease was physically capable of running. I said a little prayer of thanksgiving for modern medicine and for insurance that pays for it. I said a prayer for my husband, who stuck by me through the dark season of the early days of my diagnosis.
When I reached the finish line, and saw my mom, my step-dad and his running buddies, and my husband waiting for me, I was so thankful I said yes. Thankful for all the things running has given to me. Thankful for the times I pushed through those hard, discouraging runs. Thankful for the grace of God to allow me a second chance at running. Thankful for the outlet that running provides for me, a way to manage my anxiety without medication.
And when I checked the results later that day, I was so surprised to see my official time: 9:53. I can do hard things.