Thursday, 25 April 2013

Just 13 Girls

This is my favourite writing.  It was written in 2010 after the Mississauga Marathon.  This was by far the most difficult, yet most rewarding marathon I have ever ran.  The rocks I wrote about are set up in my backyard as a constant reminder that the girls in Cambodia are Not Forgotten.
In a radio interview I quoted from a song that sums up why I run.

  Just a Girl No Doubt
  Take this pink ribbon from my eyes
   I`m exposed
  And it`s no big surprise
  Don`t you think I know
  Exactly where I stand
  This world is forcing me
  To hold your hand
  I`m just a girl, all pretty and petite
  So don`t let me have any rights
  I`m just a girl in the world
  That`s all you`ll let me be
  I`m just a girl, living in captivity

 I am sending some thoughts to you and my results from today.  Much like a race itself you do not know the results right until the end, so it will be here.

Did anybody see the movie UP.  Right now I am walking around my house much like the old man cartoon character did in the movie.  My pain will go away while the ones I run for will not have this luxury tomorrow.
On the drive to the race my father had 'Be thou my vision' on his c.d player.  I had him play it twice as I pondered what will my vision be today?
I had a sleepless Saturday night.  Chuck Liddell a former U.F.C champion earned the nickname 'The Iceman.'   As he would be sound asleep in his dressing room before a big fight and would have to be woken up.  His trainer said 'you must have ice in your veins.'
I am not as fortunate as I realised everything was totally different from last year.
Last year I was injured in my training and I had doubts about the how well I would be able to run.  Just getting to the starting line was a relief and I had no real goal or time just to finish.  The stress of the previous six weeks were gone and I walked up to the starting line calm and relaxed.
This year was totally different my training was excellent!  I was healthy, my daughters were healthy, I even had picked up a 'Fundraising Manager'  my father.  All these things allowed me to train very efficiently.  I had noticed an almost awe like tone in various people who heard about someone who had ran faster than the average person in races.  For a Marathon Boston is the place to be.  There is a very high standard a runner has to achieve before they are allowed to enter this race, simply put it is like The Olympics of Marathon running.

Three months ago I noticed my times were on pace to qualify me for The Boston Marathon.  Quietly I kept this to myself but I started making this my goal.  One day while running I thought aim for Boston next year and use the knowledge, experience, contacts, and credibility to organise a small maybe 5km walk/run race.  If even 100 people show up and raise $50 each that is $5 000 dollars for Ratanak, not bad for one days work!  The bonus is I would make sure I was in an administrative role so I could watch the others run.

So now all I had to do was to run The Mississauga Marathon in less than 3 hours 31 minutes.
I shared yesterday at a meeting how my training took me far down the Etobicoke Creek Trail at the end of this trail there is an island like piece of land where if the water is low I could cross on a path of rocks. I than would run over many rocks which may have been covered over by water the day before.  It was a surreal, and beautiful experience.
On my long 12 to 23 mile runs I took to picking up rocks that caught my eye.  I thought these rocks represent girls in Cambodia who have been freed from sexual slavery.
Overall I picked up 13 rocks/girls.
As I lined up to start I thought 13 girls represent 1 girl every 2 miles I must run today.
Last year I wrote how The girls from NewSong were able to help me as I felt they were all around me on the race course.  This year I realised things were going to be quite different.  I had picked up the 13 rocks from the stream bed down my Ravine and put them in a sack but this year the time I wanted to complete this race would put all 13 of them back in my sack and I would have to carry them on my back as far as I could when I ran.  I would be allowed to take them out of the sack at various times during the race finalising their safety.
The gun goes off and I am off to a fast start which is part of my plan, as last year I got stuck in a large pack of slower than myself runners and wasted a lot of time and energy swerving through them.
3 km mark I am sweating not a good sign as it is hot outside and running on asphalt that has been heated up by the Sun was going to be a challenge.
I release the Ratanak Logo shaped rock my vision is revealed to me a line from a song sang by freed slaves many years ago.   I hear a little voice singing ' no more auction block for me.' My pack feels light and I am literally tearing up the race course. 
I do not know the exact distance but the next two rocks  I take out of my pack bring me great joy.
S.N. for you Lisa.  Next comes L, yes for you Charlene. Two more faint voices 'no more auction block for me.'
I am really feeling good, but I am sweating quite a lot. Each race has certain people who are called pacers they are volunteers who run a certain pace to help other runners achieve their goals. At my Marathon they wore bunny ears hence the name pace bunnies.
At the start I picked a spot between the 3.15 and the 3.30 bunny. I thought no matter what happens I cannot let the 3.30 bunny pass me.
At the 18 km mark me and another man cruise by the 3.15 pace bunny. He turns to me and says 'we are on pace for a 3.10 Marathon.'
I am releasing various rocks and hearing the faint voices sing 'no more auction block for me' but although my time is very good and I have released many rocks my pack seems to be getting heavier and I am starting to labour.  My month long cold seems to be catching up with me.
24 km to 28 km the 3.15 bunny overtakes me I have not only hit the wall I feel the wall has crashed in on me.  I cannot begin to describe the feeling that came over me than, exhaustion, discouragement, despair, hopelessness are insufficient to describe my state of mind.  Looking back I believe the enemy of my soul  who was restrained as I trained for this run was allowed to take his best shots at me than.  What to do?  Pray?  Good idea!
One of the most brutally honest prayers of my life.  'Lord if I am chasing my glory than let me quit, but if you have called me to this than find a way for me to finish for I feel I cannot go on.  Send me an angel to strengthen me.
I was sent my Angel!
I had a certain rock I wanted to take right to the finish line.  This girl has had one of the most miserable lives that I know of.  A Canadian man made pornographic video tapes with her when she was very young.  She is still in Prostitution right now, it is the only life she has ever known.  She is lost right now afraid and un trusting of the only people who actually care for and would love to help her.  She once asked does anybody know or care about me?  She is someone Brain McConaghy has prayed for even on the point of exhaustion.  The NewSong Center is half named after her.  The lady I am to take out of my pack is no other than Sung, my very unlikely Angel but if anything I thought I have to finish today if even just for her.  Her voice is louder and deeper; tinged with far more sorrow than the other girls but a glimmer of hope goes into me 'no more auction block for me.'
The enemy of my soul sees this spark and tries to put it out immediately.  My legs start cramping, not just my calves, but my hamstrings, and even my front right quadriceps muscle.  I had to use all of my effort for the next while not to have a leg buckle underneath me.
Last year I noticed signs as I ran.  This year my focus and now my challenges kept me from noticing too many outside influences.  Someone with chalk had written 'Surrender' at the 30 km mark.

I guess someone has a warped sense of humour.  Another spark is put in me as I angrily shake my head NO!  The only surrender here today will be the enemies grasp on these girls once and for all.  I will not surrender today!  I must finish this race!  The next 6 kms are pure torture between keeping my legs stable and my mental state, it was definitely not  fun.

36 km  I take the matching rocks out of my pack. They were picked up on my longest run of training 23 miles.  I feel they are sisters possibly even twins.  I dig deep and keep going 'no more auction block carries to me over the crowd.
38 km a voice from the crowd.  My race bib has my name on it.  A man shouts encouragement 'Keep it up Larry, your form looks great and your camouflage even better.'
Interesting in two years I have never been asked about my choice of outfit.  I ran with 1700+ people on Sunday I was the only one dressed like this.  To me my run is a day of battle, a day of war.  Solomon mentions a time for everything even War, hence my outfit.
I think of a another man who was said to have a Heart after God.  He made many mistakes but God still used him very mightily.  Before fighting the Giant Goliath; David said he had killed a Bear, and a Lion so what was Goliath to him?
I thought maybe last year I defeated a Bear, this year I am in a fierce battle with a ferocious Lion.  Perhaps I am being prepared for a battle next year with some kind of Giant.  On the surface that does not look like good news but the spark became a fire within me, as by looking at the times after the race I actually ran the last 4 km in a pace similar to what I ran earlier in the race. 
Now I can see the finish line.  I actually sprint the last 50 metres, as I cross the line I think one more rock to take out of sack.

I do not know her name, she is tiny, she is beautiful, she is unmarked, and bears no scars physical,sexual or spiritual.  Yes this precious little rock has never been or ever will be subjected to sexual abuse.
Her chorus is a little different than the other girls' I never was on the auction block.'
A band plays a song at the finish line that means a lot to a group of people I know who went to Cambodia last year and the girls they bonded with all who probably are still on the Auction block.
Joy from my core group you were in that park.  The Song was 'no woman no pride, no woman no cry.'
With the stress of the race over and my pack finally empty comes my reward.  I wrote before sometimes a touch of Heaven reaches out and gives us just a glimpse a small taste of what it will be like.
All 13 girls appear before me.  They are various size and ages.  Most are from Cambodia. Two are from Vietnam, and one is from Thailand.
Angels cannot sing better than this.
They sing

  No more auction block for me
  No more, no more
  No more auction block for me
  Many thousands gone

  No more strange man`s hands on me
  No more, no more
  No more rapes of me
  Many thousands gone

  No more being sold for me
  No more, no more
  No more beatings for me
  Many thousands gone

  No more auction block for me
  No more, no more
  No more auction block for me
  Many thousands gone
Now back to visible reality.  My Mother and Father, my wife and two daughter`s greet me at the finish line.  In football a game ball is given to a most valuable player.  I wear my own shirt so my Father is given my Mississauga Marathon shirt.  He worked diligently, tirelessly, and efficiently in raising funding for the NewSong Center and released me to train. My Mom hugs me and as a picture is being taken says 'try not to look so tired Larry.'  Thanks Mom.
Gloria my most beautiful wife kisses me an whispers I am so proud of you! I am proud of her not once did she complain or question the many hours I put into preparing for today.
Katarina gave me my gift on Thursday she said 'I know why you are running, I know what has happened to those girls and I am proud of you.'  Although saddened a 10 year old has to know about such things, how about the 10 year old girls in Cambodia who not only know about these things but have experienced them repeatedly for at least the last four years.
Do you believe in miracles?  I am starting to.  Isabella precious, beautiful Isabella the same girl who last year told me 'Daddy you did terrible', the same girl who said only a top ten finish would be acceptable for me this year.  Isabella ran and gave me a big hug and said 'Daddy you did very well, I am also proud of you.'
Now to the end the finish line so to speak.  Was I chasing my own glory?  Was I mistaken in my goals?  Would I let you guys, God and the girls of Cambodia down.
1717 people ran this years Mississauga Marathon.  I finished 126th.

I needed my time to be better than 3 hours 31 minutes.
I finished in 3 hours 19 minutes.
I am indeed going to run in The Boston Marathon next year. (which I have)
Hopefully in two years organize a small race. (which has been done.)
Thank you 


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