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FlyingPride Marathon

Let it never be said that God doesn't exist.
Nor that God doesn't have a sense of humor.
I found out both the hard way yesterday.

The short story:
I was planning on running the Flying Pig half-marathon and then going to church afterwards to lead worship. I had a big head about doing both and God said that I could only do one or the other.

The long story:
May 5th. Cinco de Mayo. The Flying Pig Marathon.

I signed up to run the half marathon for the Flying Pig back in January. It was $85 to register, which suddenly makes the race a big deal. Though a hefty amount, the registration fee was a justifiable cost on two accounts: 1) The money goes to charity, 2) What better way to motivate yourself to work out than to reserve a spot in a half marathon? This way, I don't buy a gym membership but my money is now an incentive to keep working out.

So I started training. It started by running a 5k in March and worked on getting my pace faster. Then I started running 4 miles the next week, 6 the following week, 8 the next, 10 the next, then 10 miles with hills...until I was finally ready to run the half marathon. My body was/is in the best cardio shape it has ever been in and I felt ready to run the half marathon in less than 2 hours.

Now, let's back up the story a bit. The original plan for race day: Take the day off of "work" (church) and go downtown to run, using a day of vacation. Finish the half marathon and spend the rest of the morning at the after party, collecting swag and free snacks and drinks and enjoy lunch at a vendor's booth or something. However, I didn't realize that the race actually started at 6:30am, which is early enough that I could run the race, finish, drive to church and still have time to lead worship for both services! Grueling? Yes. Worth it? Most likely! So that became the new plan--run the race, run back to the car, skip the swag, and lead worship instead. The incentive: being able to boast of my accomplishments to everyone at church. The negative: not having time to actually enjoy the race and after party. The payoff: getting a big pat on the back from everyone at church who is surprised to see that I am capable of running a half marathon and still making it to church on time.

On Saturday night, Katie and I were praying before bed and I started to pray about the race. "Dear God, please help me...." in my head there ran an inner dialogue that went something like: do awesome and be faster than anyone else. Wait, no. Run fast in order to get to church on time. "Run fast in order to give you glory for giving me the talents in the first place. Amen."
Okay, a better prayer, but God knew my heart. I was proud. I had a big ego. My plan was to run the half-marathon just in order to be able to then get in front of God's people and lead them in worship in order for people to compliment me.

Well, after waking up Isaiah at 5am, we left the house Sunday morning at 5:30am with church clothes in bags and ready to run the race and then head directly to church.

Sunday morning was a chilly morning, but very humid as well. Rather than safety-pinning my bib number onto my long sleeved T-shirt (purple), I thought I would wait and pin it onto my T-shirt underneath (orange) so I wouldn't get too hot during the race; so I held on to my number and put it in the driver's side door holder until we parked. We drove downtown and found free parking in Newport. We walked over the Purple People bridge and found ourselves at the ending chute of the marathon. A perfect parking spot! (minus the mile and a half walk) Just as Jonn and I were getting ready to leave Katie and Isaiah at the finish line, I decided it was time to take my long-sleeved T off (purple) and start stretching for the race.

That's when it hit me.
I didn't have my timing chip or bib number with me. I frantically asked Katie, "Did you grab my number from the car?!" No. "What time is it?" 6:09am. "Okay. If I can run an 8 m/m pace back to our car and here again, I may just have enough time to still compete in the race.

I started running back across the bridge. We were walking with contestants on our way over, but now I was only passing only spectators who were headed towards the race. Odds of making it to the car and back were looking pretty grim. (but the sunrise sure was nice to see from the bridge!) About a block from the car I realized that I didn't have keys with me. While I know that I didn't lock the car, odds were pretty good that Katie had. I told myself that if the car was locked, the race would be over for me, as I wouldn't have time to run back to Katie, back to the car, and then back to the race again (and by the time I did, I would've run a whole marathon anyhow).
Sure enough, the car was locked. I contemplated for a brief moment the idea of breaking open a window and grabbing my bib number, but I opted to value my elbow and the car's window over my participating in the Pig. I laughed out loud as I thought about my attitude towards this race the night before. Was God punishing me for my pride? Was He the one who orchestrated my negligence at pinning on my number? Was this His way of humbling me before I tried to go before His people as a leader? To answer any of those with certainty was impossible, but the lesson was certainly there--Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up. -James 4:10

God had given me an ultimatum: "either you can lead worship for My people, or you can run this race for yourself. But you cannot use this race and leading worship as a platform to build yourself up."

Through tears, anger, and much more inner dialogue, I started running back towards the race. I had a last strand of hope that maybe there would be a booth at the starting line for people who forget their numbers. Surely I am not the only one. They could lend me a number and I could still do the race!

I started running back across the bridge. The sunset was more firey and awesome than ever. The song "How Great Thou Art" popped into my head as I again was struck by the realization that this morning was not about me. God gives me the strength to run. God gets the glory for Sunday mornings. Daniel gets nothing. Daniel has earned nothing. God is worthy of everything! That put an end to my tears and an end to the biting edge of my sorrow.

I ran past the finish swine and past all the swag tables that were being set up. I ran past the Red's stadium. I ran towards the starting line and then....heard the cheering. The race had just begun. The first runners were making their way around the stadium and into downtown. I could've still tried to fight my way towards the back of a very long line of runners, but I knew that it was done (there are corrals for runners based on anticipated finish times. I had actually signed up for corral E, which had not left yet--though I could run at a corral C pace. Surely I could try to find the booth and join in with corral E or F. Orrrr I could find Katie and admit God's plan for my morning).

I could have jumped in and just run along with the elite runners (which I tried for 2 blocks before I realized the difference between jogging and running. I jog. They run.) and completed the half marathon without a timing chip or number. They might have given me a medal and free swag, and I might have enjoyed it. But the more I thought about what this race meant and what worship meant to me, the more I realized that I needed to accept the humility and go to church broken before God, rather than still trying to build myself up.

I ran back around the stadium and found Katie and Isaiah where I had left them. We exchanged a sad look of defeat and then started the long walk back across the bridge to our car.

We made it to church before anyone else. So early that we could buy donuts and allergy medicine and still have time to change and make rehearsal.

Worship yesterday was very refreshing for me. It was a very humbling experience to talk to each member of the praise team and tell them that I had not run but had forgot my number. It was humbling in a good way though; it started my morning's worship experience remembering just how low I am compared to God. I was able to worship God in a whole new way, proclaiming along with the saints about "casting down golden crowns around the glassy sea."

I was humbled, and in that state came a heartfelt outpouring of worship to God. Thank you God for being so good to me and teaching me lessons about who you are.

And on a practical note: I will never forget my bib number for a race ever again!


  1. Oh, Daniel. The mother in me wants to fix it all. But I am so proud of the lesson learned. So good to know that He disciplines us for our good because He CLAIMS us as His own! That is a good thing! Never despise the discipline of the Lord!!!!! Love you, Dan'l Boone!


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