Feet pounding the pavement. Heavy breathing of the fellow runners by your side. The sun shining on the water as a brisk, bitter wind hits your face.
Your body is in pain as your muscles yearn for more oxygen, almost begging you to stop. But you ignore the thoughts and take a breath. One breath in, one breath out. That is all it takes.
For many, this was the experience two weekends ago at the Rock CF Rivers 5k and Half-Marathon.
What started as a small group of people gathering together a few times a week to run in the Rec slowly grew.
Friends invited friends until the group reached a record number.
The Rock CF Rivers Half-Marathon and 5k Run is a race held in Detroit to raise awareness and fight for a cure to end cystic fibrosis.
This was my first time running the race and my first half-marathon.
I always wanted this challenge, and the race provided the perfect opportunity since I knew it was for a great purpose.
Eventually, the weekend of the race arrived and all Gannon members carpooled over to bitterly cold Detroit.
The night before the event, we came together for a prayer service.
It was at this event that I felt the true fear dissipate as the reality of the meaning for the race hit me.
The idea behind the whole event is about “the living person.”
As event organizer and theology professor Jimmy Menkhaus, Ph.D. puts it, “The Living Person Community is a group that welcomes all people who want to improve in mind, body and/or spirit,” he said. “I am excited to see this program continue to grow here at Gannon.”
Looking into this idea, I felt immediately at peace.
God gave us lungs to breathe and legs to run and a heart to love.
With him, it could truly be possible.
Bright and early, we awoke and prepared ourselves.
Warming up with my friend and fellow runner, Kate Robb, I saw the beauty of what was going on around us.
As the sun slowly rose, I did not see fear or competition. I saw smiles and love.
Running toward that starting line, I could not help but smile.
And for 13.1 miles, the smile never truly disappeared.
My shins hurt, my quads were going numb, and my hands were close to the point of hypothermia, but in that whole race, I have never felt so amazingly alive.
And as I hit that finish line, I felt full of joy.
As 2 Timothy 4:7 states, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
This is what it means to be a “living person.”
It is taking each day and embracing all that it has to offer.
It is being able to lie down each night and say to yourself and to God, “I lived.”