Yesterday, a friend and I participated with over 3000 fellow Chicago citizens in a 5K at the Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run / Obstacle Series in Gilberts, Illinois. It was a 3.7 mile course full of hills, muddy terrain and militaristic obstacles including a wooden climbing wall, mud pits, cargo nets and ladder walls - as you can see, we were coated from head to toe at the end of the race!
I finished 751st out of 1,638 runners in my heat, a time good enough to place me in the top half of finishers, though, time was not my #1 priority going into this thing. I've never been a distance runner, don't usually run more than one mile during personal workouts and have never been a fan of mud wrestling or puddle jumping. So, when one of my best friends called me up and asked if I wanted to take on a 5K, I knew I was getting outside of my comfort zone by saying "yes!"
Though training was hard, the race was harder and I ruined a good running outfit and pair of shoes in the process, my participating in the race was an incredible opportunity for me to overcome my fears and challenge myself in ways I didn't even know I needed to be challenged (Find a detailed description of my personal mission and motivation leading up to the race in a personal blog post here). My insecurities were manifested in the dialogue of runners around me throughout the race (Mile 1.5: "WHAT did I get myself into?!", Mile 2.1: "It's way too hot out here to run like this," Mile 3.2: "Are we there yet?!"), and I sometimes felt like I wanted to die (mostly while climbing a series of unexpected hillsides that they failed to warn us about before sending us into the back woods by highway 90).
So, as I was running, panting, sweating and, at points, bleeding, I was inspired to keep going because I knew there was something waiting for me at the end: a sense of accomplishment. Knowing I'd conquered my fears of failure as they pertain to distance running meant I would be free to encourage and motivate anyone who has ever felt insecure, inadequate or unprepared for something - I had just completed a 3.7 mile obstacle course in 85 degree heat in under an hour!!! To me, that means anything is possible with God (my finishing = miraculous). :)
So, the top three things I learned during this run:
1) All the glory goes to God. Jesus wants us to be free and have fun - while remembering He's the one who gave us life to enjoy in the first place. He didn't say it would be easy, but He does reward those who challenge themselves and "walk by faith, not by sight."
2) Get outside of your comfort zone - as author/pastor John Ortberg writes in his novel, "If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat" - basically, having faith and tackling the unfamiliar or unexpected will allow you to depend on God in ways you never have before (Hebrews 11).
3) So, as I wrote in very first "Daily Miracle" blog post - it may be time to JUST DO IT!!! Whatever it is you're waiting to do - go. And do. You'll learn a whole heckuva lot about yourself in the process, and might even have a little fun along the way :)