As I made my way up the fourth bluff, hiking/running through the thick mud on the trail and starting to see the view I would get to enjoy more as I ran along the top of the bluff, I realized, "This is why I train all year. I train to be able to enjoy these moments. I train so that even when the course is tough and the weather is bad, and I've been sick for two days beforehand, I can come up here and enjoy God's creation and see a view like this." The view of the river valley was awesome! I wish everyone could make it out onto these types of trails and take in the views.
I fell again in some slick mud with about 1 mile to go, but got up again and kept pushing. I was really looking forward to seeing my family and completing this race in what was for me, some epic conditions. Interestingly enough, it seems like as I write this up, I am complaining, but I am not, and actually didn't complain at all during the race. Instead, I just got after it, prayed and trusted God, and ran. I am as proud, if not more so of finishing this race, despite my slow pace, as I am at getting a huge PR at Hawkeye. To paraphrase Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." It really is amazing just what one can do when we trust God.
Zumbro 2014 for me proves how spiritual endurance reinforces physical endurance. I simply could not have enjoyed and finished this race like I did without the spiritual endurance and faith in God that He has given me. At the same time, I also needed the physical endurance learned through discipline and running through this past hard winter in Iowa to be able to even consider racing Zumbro with the many hurdles that were thrown at me. When the spirit wanes, sometimes you just have to dig deep and push on physically, and other times, when it feels physically impossible, God shows you just what is possible through faith. And we are capable of so much more than we think that we are in life!
In the end, even a simple 17 mile trail race, (simple especially compared to those running the 50 and 100!) can remind us of Paul's words in Romans 5:1-5,
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.