YOU DID IT: by jodi stilp
Has the post-race euphoria worn off yet or are you still basking in the glow of mission accomplished? It was wonderful to meet many of you on race day, pray together, race together, and celebrate together. I’m so proud of each one of you. You did it!
A big thank you to Diane Comer for casting the vision of Not Your Own and to Elizabeth Mosser for all the behind-the-scenes formatting work she put into each post. Thank you to each of you who volunteered at packet pick up, to Monica and Brian Albaugh for transporting and setting up our tent, and to each of our family members who volunteered on race day. We appreciate all your extra effort.
Tricia Ball, one of our Not Your Own half-marathoners, blessed me with a hand-stamped silver necklace that says “Not Your Own.” She is making them available for sale to our group at a reduced price of $20 per necklace. If you would like a daily reminder that you are Not Your Own, visit Tricia’s Etsy store to place your order.
Thank you to each of you who took the time to write out your story. It’s been like Christmas this week at my house as I opened each of your emails and read with joy the work God has begun in your lives. We have some pretty incredible sisters in this family! Young and old, experienced and novice, runners and walkers… our Not Your Own group was diverse but united around a central theme of honoring God with our bodies. God took our desire to honor Him and wrote beautiful and diverse stories in the hearts of each woman. Listen to just how creative our God is.
Remember Melinda my friend in Canada? The day before our race she received word that her cancer has spread. In her words, “Though it has spread to more lymph nodes it is still fairly localized and I’m not dying from it yet - just inconvenienced by it for another year at least. Tomorrow I am running at 8 a.m. I’m going to be praying lots. Praising Him for the positive results and the not so positive ones. By His grace and for His glory – run, walk or crawl. It’s going to happen because I am Not My Own.” Melinda ran the entire 10k by herself in the wood of British Columbia. “It was a battle, but I did it!” she said. “I prayed the whole time. God gave me a song in my head and I kept picturing all of you ladies running beside me. I ended up beating my best time ever by 40 seconds. Praise the Lord!”
Elizabeth, a middle-aged momma who wanted to be healthy enough to keep up with her boys originally set out to run the half-marathon. As she began to train, she realized her schedule and her body would not accommodate a safe half-marathon and she was forced to adjust her goal to walk the 10k. “God knew exactly what I could do because I am Not My Own. My walk/run training the past three months was a challenge for me. I kept to it. It did not yield a half marathon. God knows me. He knew what I could do. He sent me not one but two angels. One angel named Rachael to train with and one angel named Kelsey to do the race with.”
Tanya and Trisha took comfort and encouragement in walking the entire race together. It was a first for Tricia and she finished faster than her goal time, recovered quickly, and enjoyed it more than she expected. “The Not Your Own was an answer to prayer,” Tricia said. “God used it to get me up and moving but more importantly, to change my heart. Thank for the reminder that we are not our own, bought at a price and worth so much more.”
Tanya said, “The verse I got on race day in my email was Romans 12:5 NLT. It says, ‘…so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.’ Not only do we each belong to God, but to each other too! Seems like we did a great job of exemplifying this today – encouraging each other and serving each other to do great things. Kind of fitting, no?”
Bob was not a part of our group. He probably doesn’t even know Solid Rock exists, but he sent this email to the race coordinator and she forwarded it to me. He said, “As I was completing the Helvetia half marathon, I suffered a severe leg cramp when I entered the finishing chute. I couldn’t stand so I sat down and tried to straighten my leg. Some lady came to help me stretch and relieved the cramp. She helped me up and I was able to get across the finish line. In my rush to finish, I’m not sure I thanked this lady for her help. She was with a group of women who were gathered just to the left of the finishing chute. I’m old and slow, but I love this race and plan to participate as long as I can. Perhaps you might know of this group and could let them know how much I appreciate this lady’s help.” That was our tent ladies and most likely one of you who helped Bob. How cool is that?
Crissy has me to blame for roping her into Not Your Own. She lives in Newberg and we became friends through a Christian-based moms group. She said, ”My husband says I’m an athlete now since I ran in my first 10k race last weekend, but that wasn’t my goal with I committed to training for this event three months ago. Jodi’s simple call to action on Facebook caught my attention. ‘C’mon ladies. Who’s going to join me?’ The Bible passage she included is what held my attention, ‘You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.’ (I Cor. 6:19-20)
I’m in, I thought. Then I typed it. Then I went on to read what I was in on. I was going to run a race? I was excited and a little nervous because I didn’t know what to do first. The word training hadn’t entered my head yet. I just knew I had to ‘practice’ running. I ran the first few weeks in my Crocs until Jodi told me I better go get a pair of running shoes fast!
As I ran more and was able to think less about the mechanics of what I was doing, I began to realize running really cleared my mind. I was inspired by Jodi to keep my mind quiet and listen to what God might have to say to me. Each time I tied on my new running shoes, God showed me something new. Some of these things may seem small, but they were important to me. I learned:
- To obey. God said, ‘Just do this and watch what happens,’ so I did.
- To be humble. God wanted me to see that I don’t always have to contribute some of my creative ideas to accomplish a goal. I didn’t have to make this more complicated than it was. God said, ‘Just go run. Run more and more and more each time until you reach the goal. I designed your body and it can run. You can do this. Trust me.”
- There is treasure to be found in routine. Many of the things I do are very cyclical (laundry, dishes, washing the kids’ faces) and as soon as I finish them, they need to be done again. While I was running one day, I realized I would have to keep running again and again if I wanted to stay in shape. In that moment God shed light on the truth that all of these routines are actually His glorious design. None of these things are just getting in the way and taking time from other things I could be enjoying. These are things to be enjoyed.
This is probably the most important truth I learned while running, and I don’t think I could have clearly understood it amidst a pile of laundry or a load of dishes. It helped me to understand that anything I do can and should be done for the glory of God. Now I can say I run for the glory of God!
The Albaugh family touched not just the people who know their story but also fellow runners on the course. Brian and Monica’s son Jaron was born with Miller-Dieker syndrome. He wasn’t expected to live to see his first birthday that he celebrated in March of this year. Isn’t God good? Jaron’s nickname is Turtle Man based on a picture of him smiling at two weeks old. According to his mom, “his amazing life has transformed each of our lives over the course of the last year. He is our little glimpse of heaven, here on earth.”
Monica writes, “When I started this journey, I had a good 40 pounds to lose, half of which I’m still working on. A few years ago I decided to do something about my weight. It took actually losing weight for me to realize my relationship with food and being inactive was actually sin I was clinging to. I used food to bring me joy, to comfort me when I was stressed, frustrated, or just plain bored. I chose not to view my body from God’s perspective. He created our bodies to be his temple, a sacred place where His Spirit dwells. I did not have the respect for my body that God had and I definitely was not honoring Him with my body. Challenged by Diane’s call to live out I Corinthians 6:20 and encouraged by Jodi’s words of running wisdom, I embarked on a mission to train for and finish the Helvetia Half Marathon.
I really wanted my whole family (dad, mom, brothers and sisters) to do this with me. I began asking them to join me on this ‘mission impossible’ and one-by-nervous-one, they said YES! We got all the gear we needed for running. We stayed connected by group messages on Facebook and ran long runs together when we could. We even gathered for a family birthday in Tacoma and ran ten miles along a golf course. We were really doing this!
Brian and I had talked about getting shirts made since there were seven of us running together to identify ourselves as a group. We chose a turtle for the front to honor Jaron and used Hebrews 12:1 as our theme verse on the back. ‘Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us/’ I only wish we would have added, ‘And all God’s children said, ________”’because I had at least 30 runners who commented on my verse while running the race.
Race day came. We all showed up, stretched, drank water, prayed, ran, walked, huffed, puffed, prayed some more, ached, groaned… but all seven of us finished!!!!! A few of us beat our training pace. Some were just thrilled to cross the finish line still alive. We were all amazed and thankful to complete what we started – TOGETHER.”
Tiffany said, “The morning of the race I was nervous, excited and a bit scared. I flipped open my devotional just as I do every morning and it was based on I Peter 5:7, ‘Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.’ All I could do was say, ‘Thank you Lord for reminding me why I am doing this today.’
I knew this race would be tough. I’m not in as good of shape as I was two years ago when I first got into running, but I had a completely different outlook on why I was running and why I wanted to finish the race. When I got to the Solid Rock tent I put the ‘Not Your Own’ bracelet on my right arm. On my left forearm above my watch, I wrote the verse from my devotional in bright red. I knew while I was out on the course I would need continual reminders that I am Not My Own and that I needed to cast my anxieties on Him.
Throughout the race I was running behind or in front of Elizabeth. We made the last turn on the road to the stadium and I started to pass her but I felt the Lord tell me to use the little bit of energy I had left to pull her along. We ran the last ¼ mile together and it was an awesome way to end. Two years ago I may have been in better physical shape and run a bit faster, but I know that the condition of my spirit and my relationship with Christ is so much stronger and tougher that I wouldn’t go back to who I was then for anything!”
Rachael ran the half-marathon at Helvetia, her first. In preparation for the race, she started running with two different women. “I loved my runs with Ashley because we chose a new place to run each time we went out. It was always an adventure and it gave us time to share with each other how God was moving in our lives. Elizabeth and I ran a 2.5 mile loop each week, rain or shine. As we ran, I would chuckle as she told me stories about her kids, listen intently as she gave me Godly advice and wisdom, and smile with appreciation as she encouraged me. My goals for the Helvetia half marathon were: (1) Don’t stop running. Walking is not an option. (2) Don’t come in last place. (3) Finish!”
Rachael injured her hamstring during her training and came to the stadium on race day feeling undertrained and really nervous. Ashley was walking the half-marathon and Elizabeth was running the 10k, so she was on her own for the duration of the race. The first 8 miles passed uneventfully, and then Rachael got distracted. “Something was wrong with my right sock, my left ankle and knee were bugging me, the inside of my legs were rubbing, my race shorts were too big and not fitting right, and a thought I quickly had to surrender was, ‘No one is going to be there to greet me at the finish line.’ Through all the distractions I kept reminding myself that I am Not My Own, that I was bought at a price and that the Lord is my strength and he has given me victory. (Exodus 15:2) By mile thirteen I had nothing left in me and was not able to sprint to the finish line. As I rounded the corner to run onto the field, I heard, ‘Ah! There’s Rachael!’ Two smiling faces, Kelsey and Elizabeth, were there waiting for me and cheering me on. I don’t know how long Kelsey and Elizabeth had to wait for me, but that act of love still brings tears to my eyes. Days later, I still have achy knees but I also have an appreciation for new and old friends and a thankfulness that I am Not My Own.”
Alisa wrote, ‘After weeks of training, I ran my first half marathon. 13.1 hard-earned miles run by my very own legs. Today as I nurse sore muscles and joints and reward my hard work with some homemade ice cream, I’m reflecting a little bit on this thing that I just did.
I wanted to learn what it meant to surrender myself in obedience to the Lord, in a practical, tangible way. Through the sweat and frustration and tears and elation of training for this seemingly impossible thing, I longed, somehow, to bring glory to the One who created me. I wanted to please my Father’s heart. And I hoped that someone else might catch a glimpse of Jesus in my journey.
The race itself went amazingly well. Not easy, mind you, but easier than I expected. By mile 12 I had to pray through every single step, ‘Just keep my feet moving, Jesus,’ I whispered through my wheezing. And He did. As I finished the race with my version of a sprint, I felt the most amazing sense of victory. Not only because I had just pushed my body to run for two hours and twenty-eight minutes straight, although that felt incredible. The real victory was that I threw off everything that hindered me, fixed my eyes squarely on Jesus, and through Him, I ran my race.”
Michelle said, “Seven years of blissful marriage and two little boys later, I found myself turning thirty with thirty extra pounds. No question I was thankful for the blessings the Lord had given me, yet I was still hiding behind layers. Over the years, the Lord has shown me that I am an emotional eater. I eat when I’m happy, bored, sad and angry. I ate to comfort myself, not to fuel my body. I grew up in a very obese Italian family. Food was an art form, but taken to the extreme. I’ve had to learn that food is not the enemy; it is part of the Lord’s beautiful creation, created for our sustenance.
Six months ago I said to my husband, ‘Babe, if you could change anything about me, what would it be?’ After a few minutes of thinking, he said, ‘You are an awesome woman with vision, endless ideas and passion. I would like you to say ‘yes’ to one or two things at a time, follow through to complete the task, and then move on to the next vision that He gives you.’
The Lord had been preparing my heart for that exact moment. I want to be a woman of her word, filled with the Spirit and conducted by the Spirit. I knew my first task was to start taking care of my physical body. I have lost 25 pounds this year through a strict dietary regimen. While I was changing our family’s dietary habits, I realized I needed to exercise my physical body as well.
When Jodi and Diane asked us to consider running in the Helvetia race, I knew it was what I needed to push me forward and stay on track and keep this body moving in the right direction toward good health. It was slow going at first – running for a minute then walking for two. Eventually it turned into walking one minute then running two. I slowly gained endurance and began to actually enjoy the process. On race day my goal was to run the entire 10k with no stopping, and I did it! Slow? No question. But I finished.
The Lord has continued to remind me that when I say ‘yes’ to one thing, I will have to say no to another. In this season of saying ‘yes’ to training, I am saying ‘yes’ to good health. I am showing my boys to love and respect the food that God has given us and the bodies we have to use for His glory. Better yet, many goals were accomplished by saying ‘yes’ to one discipline.” To God be the glory!
Andrea told me, “This was my second time running this event. Four years and two kids later, I was able to shave ten minutes off my time. It was still short of my goal but now I am even more eager to do another race. I hit a wall at mile eleven and never really broke through it. I pretty much shuffled the rest of the way with Mandisa’s song Stronger blasting through my iPod on repeat. It’s a great song to run to when all you have left is to cling to Jesus to make it across the finish line. I caught up to Monica Albaugh and unplugged the headphones so we could listen to the song together as we neared the finish line. It was great to be able to finish with another Not Your Own lady and so encouraging to see so many women from our church out there.”
I met Amanda at packet pick up. Slender and beautiful, she looked like a natural runner. I asked her what event she was participating in fully expecting her to say the half marathon. Instead, she grimaced and said with a determined look, “I’m walking the 10k.” My confusion must have been obvious so she elaborated. “I grew up running but I’ve battled some tough health issues in the past year. It has taken a long time to stabilize my health and even now it’s in a fragile state. I want to run but my body needs rest. I joined Not Your Own to honor God with my body, but in my case it means I have to force myself to walk a shorter distance instead of run a longer one.” I was floored! I saw the resolve in Amanda’s eyes to obey and honor her God and it touched me.
I caught up with her via email after the race. She said, “The 10k was a lot of fun. I definitely thought about running a couple of times, but I didn’t. I walked the whole way.” The ironic part of Amanda’s race is her finish time. She chose a pace per mile that her body could handle and forced herself to stick to that pace, but her timing watch malfunctioned and she ended up finishing at a pace that was almost two minutes per mile faster than she anticipated! Amanda obeyed God, listened to her body and walked her way to victory. She finished by saying, “I can’t wait till I am healthy and running again, but in the meantime, I will just keep walking.” You go Amanda!
This will be our last Not Your Own post for the Helvetia event. Keep an eye on the blog and the Not Your Own Facebook page for the next Solid Rock sponsored-event, probably spring of next year. In the meantime use the Not Your Own Facebook group to stay connected, build relationships, and find other events to train for. While you’re at it, why not pull in some of your non-believing friends or co-workers to train with you? You never know what God will do while you sweat and share together!
I’ve enjoyed connecting with each of you. I posted my race day experience on my personal blog. I’d love to have you follow me there until we meet again!
Persevering with you,