It was time for another challenge, so I registered for another 5K. I knew it would be a struggle because I hadn't been running and keeping in shape after the other 5Ks, and this one was on a cold, December day, which didn't excite me at all. However, in the end, this race proved to be far more rewarding.
This time, Rylee joined me for the race. I should point out that at the last minute, due to the cold, rainy weather and my inability to train in time, I opted out of the 5K and settled for the one mile Reindeer Dash that preceded the longer race. Little did I know that this shorter trek would take me much farther than I had expected.
We bundled up to shield ourselves from the cold air and took our place at the starting line. I didn't really know what to expect from Rylee, but I did think that perhaps she wouldn't be able to run the entire mile; nevertheless, I was hopeful, mainly because I knew that I wouldn't be able to carry her the entire way.
The gun went off, so we started to run. I saw her little braids swinging back and forth as she took off with excitement. We ran through the parking lot, out of the park and down the road. As we ran with a group of people, Rylee suddenly sped off without me, ducking and weaving between people. As I struggled, gracefully, to catch up to her, she simply explained, "I had to get around all those slow people." She didn't realize, I guess, that I was one of those slow people, now huffing from the sprint.
We ran down passed the government building and looped back around, heading back to the park. About halfway into the mile, I could tell she was getting tired.
"Mama, can you hold me?"
"I can for just a second while you catch your breath and rest your legs, but then I'm going to have to put you down."
So, I picked her up and carried her for a few yards, while she rested her chin on my shoulder.
"Okay, you're going to have to walk now."
She started to run again, and we were on our way back towards the park. Along the way, she began to strip off her hat and Rudolph nose when they became burdensome and gave them to me to carry. She ran and then walked and then ran again, never again asking for any assistance. I kept encouraging her: "You can do it, sweetheart. We're almost there. It's not far now." She kept running, her little face showing fatigue, but again, she never once complained. As we made our way back up the parking lot, I promised her, "The end is almost here. It's so much fun. People cheer you on while you run through the flags. You are going to love it!" Her eyes lit up, and she ran harder.
We made our way through the crowd getting ready for the 5K and began our descent down the final stretch. We could see the finish line.
"There it is, Rylee! We're here! Run, sweetheart!"
Those little legs never stopped. She made it! She crossed the finish line and received her ribbon. We stopped for a picture, and than I squeezed her and told her how proud I was.
"I want to go ride the ponies," she said, already recovered from the race.
As we walked away, I couldn't help but cry. The tears welled up in my eyes, and all I could think was, "She didn't give up." I reflected on her face toward the end of the run, completely exhausted, and that little girl wanted to see the end, the place where the people cheered her on and she received her prize.
I cried for her endurance: I cried for her ability to reap the reward; I mainly cried because I saw her run with perseverance the race that was set before her.
It reminded me how I have been running a race this last year, and I'm exhausted. And there have been times when I couldn't take another step, so Jesus picked me up to rest snd then put me back down, knowing that I could finish the race. When burdens began to hinder my success, He carried them for me.
Yes, I cried. I cried for many reasons that day, but mainly I cried because Jesus used my little girl to remind me that He has given me the strength to persevere to the end of the race where my reward is waiting.