Sunday night, after returning home from running the St. Jude half marathon, a friend and I went to see the movie The Way. The movie is about a father who goes to France to collect the remains of his son who died while walking the Camino de Santiago. The father decides to finish the pilgrimage in his son’s place and meets several other pilgrims along the way, each with their own issues. You can check out the movie here. At the end of the movie (spoiler alert) the pilgrims make it to the end and get their certificate and they are asked what was their reason for walking the Camino. Their answers varied.
That question struck me. As runners I am sure we have varied reasons for running. To lose weight, to challenge ourselves, to compete, to de-stress, for the fun of it, etc. My reasons are varied as well, but my main reason for training and running the St. Jude half was in memory of my mom and praying for the repose of her soul. My mother left her Christian faith, but for some reason always gave charity to St. Jude’s Children hospital. Before she died she asked that everyone give money to St. Jude’s instead of buying flowers. St. Jude is the patron of hopeless or difficult situations.
It was two years after her death that I saw a picture of some friends who had just finished the St. Jude half and decided that was what I was to do. The fact that I was out of shape and had not run for more than thirty seconds since childhood made it a hopeless and difficult situation. St. Jude had his work cut out for him!
The first week of my training I was reading my son’s youth catechism that was published for World Youth Day and in it was a definition for a pilgrim as one who “prays with his feet.” It was all coming together. My training and running would be a pilgrimage.
Every pilgrimage has moments of consolations and moments of difficulty and struggle and mine was no different! I worked through injuries, struggled to lose weight, dealt with frustration and embarrassment, but I also experienced the joy of accomplishment, a slightly faster pace and a slimmer body!
I also had the help and encouragement of others. Great coaches and pacers who pushed and motivated me. My husband and a good friend who trained with me and even internet friends that I have never met in person! They were all fellow pilgrims as I made my way.
Prepared and ready, I ran the St. Jude half marathon in Memphis with my husband and my good friend. I ran with a list of prayer intentions in my pocket and I prayed every step of the way. My goal was to finish in 2:45 and that was pushing it! I did not think I would make it so I stopped looking at my Garmin at mile 11 and just focused on running and breathing and praying! I crossed the finish and stopped my Garmin. My time was 2:43:38 officially!! I finished under my goal!
So I ran and will continue to run as a pilgrim, praying with my feet! Hopefully just a little faster!