As I ran along the Potomac River, up and down the bluff and through the woods and fields that made up the 50K course of the North Face Endurance Challenge, I found myself observing the other runners around me. They were wonderful people. All were attempting to conquer something that was deeply personal.
For me, I learned the lesson, once again that I had to trust God…and in my pain rise once again and continue to the end. That happened around mile 27. I had completed a fairly easy section of the course that ran along side the river when I entered a very rock area. The trail I was running along came to a point where you had the steep bluff wall on your left a small ledge to run along with about 2 feet drop to the rocks on the right. My legs were dead and I was totally spent. I was thinking about the next climb of about 600 yards that would be the last major climb of the race. Not something I should have been thinking about…but your mind tends to wander as you run. The next thing I felt was a rock under my right foot and the twisting of my ankle. The pain shot up through my body like lightning and I felt my body tumble forward into the rocks in front of me. Slamming my body to the ground and knocking all the air out of me. I tried to roll over to but rocks all around me made it almost physically impossible. I lay there thinking it was all over. I didn’t have the strength to move.
I again pushed up with my arms and still had trouble trying to rise. Then I heard the voice of another runner asking me if I was all right. His hand touched my arm and he helped me to my feet. I said I was good and my name less aid headed down the path, I following. I willed my body forward. My fellow runner who stopped and helped me to my feet gave me a wonderful gift. He gave me hope and a chance to finish the race before me.
Later that evening while attending my eldest daughter’s play, I found myself on the verge of tears. The play was a retelling of the story of Don Quixote. And as you all know in the end Don Quixote dies with Sancho Panza and Aldonza (Dulcinea) at his side urging him to live. And so it ends with Alonzo Quexana rising from his bed as Don Quixote ready to fight evil until his death. At that moment, I too realize what I conquered that morning in the race. As I stood up after that fall, I went on to finish the toughest race of my life. But I finished it because God sent a runner to give me a hand up when I needed it the most. He was my Sancho Panza…and he helped me fight to the very end.