Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Finishline

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start" John Bingham 

Well, we did it. 5 months of training came to an epic end at the finish line of the TCS New York City Marathon. Like everyone has told me from the beginning "it was the race of a lifetime". It was incredible. I felt like I was all smiles from the time we started to the time we finished. The crowd was vibrant, encouraging, and stinking awesome!! There were moments where I couldn't have done it without them. 

It was a crazy journey to the start line in the wee hours of the morning. We left our hotel at 6:30am for our 11am start time. From our hotel we took a cab, to a ferry, to a bus to get to the start line....along with 50,000 other anxious runners. We arrived in the start village with 10 minutes to drop our bags at the UPS truck and get ourselves close to the start to eat and shed off our layers keeping us warm. The canons went off, and we watched as the first wave began their trek through the streets of New York. There was clapping, cheering, and hollering as the race officially begun. It was a surreal moment, knowing in just a little over an hour we would be running across that very bridge starting our own marathon journey. 

The start was crazy. It was like herding cattle. We were the last wave...and it was clearly the "fun wave". Being in the last wave of one of the largest marathons in the world is kinda like sitting in the back of class. It's where are the good stuff happens, it's where all the crazies are. The last wave is just there to have a good time and finish in the allotted time. Many aren't trying to break any ground shaking records, they're just there to take in the sights, enjoy the journey, and check this once in a lifetime opportunity off their bucket lists. They were wild, energetic, and pumped up about taking on the streets of New York. 

It was finally our turn, as I toed the start all became real. I was really doing this. I was really about to complete my first marathon. I was really about to take on the streets of New York for some of the most vulnerable kids. I had worked so hard for this moment, and it was finally here. The canons went off, and away we went over the Staten Island Bridge into Brooklyn. I was beaming. I was like a kid who had just gotten a puppy for Christmas. I was thinking about all the kids we were running on behalf of, and I just couldn't help but feel extremely joyful and thankful. 

I thought about everything that had led me to that point. I thought about every single person who had donated and said YES to protecting the most vulnerable. I thought about all 50 of our teammates out on the course, and the journeys that had gotten them here. It was indescribable. Every time we would pass one of our teammates in their Team World Vision jersey I would get weepy. Just to think about the world changers I got the privilege of running with. Each and every one of them said YES. Yes to months of training. Yes to giving fundraising all they had. Yes to sacrificing late evenings so they could get up early to run. All for the least of these. 

The run felt pretty good until about miles 18-20. Emotionally, I felt drained. At mile 18 I thought, there's no way I can run 8 more miles. I looked at Jen, and with tears I said "I don't know if I can do it". She hugged me and encouraged me to keep pushing. Physically I felt like I could keep going, but emotionally I just felt spent. Like I had nothing left to give. Relentless Forward Motion. It's something that TWV talks about and a phrase that they commonly use. And during those two miles, the Lord taught me what it means to relentlessly keep moving forward. To not give up the fight. To keep moving forward. One foot in front of the other. 

Jen made sure we high-fived people and reminded me why we run during those next two miles. It was a doozie. The only thing I could think of was "make it to mile 24". I knew that once we got to mile 24 we would see our friends and TWV crew. And I knew that seeing familiar faces would help me push through to finish. I kept getting weepy thinking about their faces cheering us on at the mile marker. And the Lord showed up and gave me the courage and strength to keep pushing through for the kids. 

The last 5 miles were hard for Jen. Like we've said from the beginning, the sweet thing is that we've never been down at the same time. If one of us is struggling, the other one is always able to be encouraging. The Lord has always taken care of us that way. The last couple miles, your in Central Park. The energy is high, and you feel so close yet so far. The last mile feels like it's 10 miles long. But as we rounded the corner and could see the finish line in the distance all I could think was "we did it". We crossed the line at the exact same time...together. 

A wave of emotions hit. I crossed that finish line having given it all I had, in training and fundraising. It was the hardest, most incredible thing I have ever done. I was a sappy mess! So overwhelmed with emotion over what we had just accomplished. Overwhelmed with the love and support that we received constantly during this journey. Overwhelmed by the people who stood in our corner and cheered us on. I just kept saying (like a broken record) "We just ran a MARATHON!". It was so surreal. 

I am so thankful for our incredible community who has rallied around us. From text messages late Friday night, to encouraging notes, to phone calls. They all meant the world, and constantly reminded us that we could do this. Now we get to celebrate the victory and all that the Lord has done through so many people joining our story. It really was the race of a lifetime, and I'm so glad we had the courage to start.

Fundraising update: 
So far as a team we have raised $186,000 for child protection!! Which is incredible! But we are still pushing, and fully believe we can hit $200,000 for the kids! 

Liz Mendoza
Overflow Coordinator
Riverside Community