Tuesday, 4 September 2012

May Angels lead you in

May angels lead you in
Hear you hear me my friends
On sleepless roads the sleepless go
May angels lead you in
May angels lead you in

These are some of the lyrics from a song May angels lead you in performed by the group Jimmy Eat World made famous in the movie A Cinderella story.  I like the song a lot; it is an interesting song as a choice for the movies love song as it is not a perfect fit, as it deals with loss and regret more than love.
One night while laying out on a lawn chair looking at the clouds moving overhead I thought of these words as a fit that I can see for the next steps in my life.  I thought back to all that has happened in my six years of being involved as a volunteer for Ratanak International and I wondered to myself "do I make these decisions that seem so strange so risky on the surface?"  Decisions so out of character of my personality, or is there a force so much greater than myself leading me to these choices?  Indeed as I embark on the next path of my life I truly see that Angels have indeed led me in and are all around me, not to say life is easy and everything goes perfect, far from it at most times, especially as my involvement in the Cambodian children's lives goes a bit deeper. My last entry on this blog was immediately after the first ever Ratanak 5km walkathon.

I wrote I felt the need to rest to take the Summer off of being actively involved in the work of Ratanak International. A Pastor friend confirmed this decision as he emailed me "I affirm your decision to take a break.  The woodcutter who stops every now and then to sharpen his axe will end up cutting a lot more wood then the woodcutter who never stops working.  May the Holy Spirit sharpen the keen edge of your passion for the exploited children of Cambodia so that it will penetrate more hearts." Taking a break was not easy for me.

Jeremiah 20 vs. 9 
If I say I will not mention him or speak any more in his name, his word is in my
heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot.

This sums up my feelings for the exploited children in Cambodia.  I could not go cold turkey. I sort of worked out a compromise.  I received emails from people in the Toronto core group letting me know about some of the latest news.  I also sent out a couple of emails, and I would go on the Ratanak website quite often to catch up on the latest news.

I did rest as I found it nice actually getting about seven hours of sleep some nights helped my body recover.  I did not pray as much as I should have.  My beautiful family enjoyed the hot weather as much as we could, we did get to the beach and a cottage as well.  I almost finished the mountain of yard work only to have another mountain appear.

What I can relate to in the words of the Pastor are not so much about the axe, but what I feel was accomplished in my time off is that the arms that swing the axe and the body that controls the arms were rested allowing me to see into the future. Two events of the last week showed me that my "sabbatical" is over and it is time to go forward.

I attended a race to benefit the Impoverished Children of Guatemala.  I picked this race because it was at Erindale Park where we held the walkathon.  I was hoping to again see the outlook of the park and areas on where Paul and myself can improve (Paul willing) if there is to be a Ratanak race in 2013.  I did indeed see a few areas I could have improved on and met three people who encouraged me.  The first was a man who was a year older than myself and was quite an accomplished runner, he actually won this particular race.  He called our ages "vintage"  nicer then some other names that come to mind, and he gave me a lot of ideas including the name of a book that he felt should help me to run faster.  I am not holding my breath on the faster, but I am hoping to become more efficient.

The next person I met was an endurance athlete who does crazy things to raise money for Charity.  He recently rode his bicycle from Calgary to Mexico.  He also is the Ontario Sales Rep for a company who sells Natural products for endurance athletes, he gave me his card and we have exchanged emails of which I have been encouraged to ask any questions related to keeping hydrated during training for and actually running in a marathon.  The last person I met was the race director.  I encouraged her for taking the time to organize this event that benefited needy children and let her know about my involvement with Ratanak.  She responded that "we are kindred Spirits" and that she attended the Meeting House in Oakville, had heard about the exploited children in Cambodia and had purchased a CD of Kelita Haverland`s (A woman who has raised a ton of money and recognition for Ratanak through her gift of Music.)

The next event occurred a few days later at a friend of my families Cottage.  There was a map on the wall that caught my attention, especially the name of the map.  I could not find a picture of the map on the Internet but I believe I found something even better.
The monument is called The Wilberforce Settlement.  In 1830 a group of fugitive Negro slaves from Cincinnati settled in this vicinity.
The settlement was named after the great British abolitionist William Wilberforce.  I thought later about what "sacred" ground that this area was founded on.

One day during the Summer I thought back to a chance encounter I had in April 2011.  It was the night before the Boston Marathon and my family went to a Restaurant for dinner to meet some Cousins we have who live in Boston.  At the table next to us was a large group including an older man and a man in a wheelchair.  As my family left our table the party next to us asked "who was running tomorrow?"  Someone pointed at me and they wished me luck, someone from our group told me that is "Team Hoyt."

I had not thought about this encounter until the middle of July this Summer, when I decided to google the man`s name. The father`s name is Dick Hoyt, his son`s is Rick.  The son was born with a severe case of Cerebral palsy.  Dick pushed his son in his wheelchair for a short race over thirty years ago.  Rick told his father "he felt like he was running the race."
Dick said "that was all he needed to hear."
They have completed over 70 full marathon`s together, including 30 Boston Marathons.
They have completed 247 triathlons together.
They have completed 1 077 total races together.

If interested I would highly recommend looking up "Team Hoyt I can only Imagine on YouTube" as this video shows how much sacrifice this Father does in the course of a race, this particular one is in Hawaii and is an Ironman triathlon. They have inspired more people then they will ever know.
Their theme is "Yes you can." To say the least I was very inspired as I watched and thought about the Love and sacrifice that this Father was willing to endure to help his son.



I realized in a strange way my biggest contribution to Ratanak and the exploited children in Cambodia seems to be the unique ability to run full Marathon`s and until I am not able to I should continue this pursuit. The question then became which marathon should I aim for?

Before the Toronto Marathon I thought if I run a B.Q. short for Boston Qualifying time I would have to consider running in The Boston Marathon next year.  I even had a future title penned Back to Boston.  I finished ten seconds short of a B.Q. time, so this was out of the question for this year.
I then thought a perfect race would be a marathon in one of the American States close to the Canadian border in the spring providing it would fall within my work schedule.

I choose this because I figure my family deserves some sort of a mini-vacation for their support.  By going to the United States my family could do some shopping on the day when I recover from the marathon. I can run a full marathon, but within ten minutes at a crowded shopping mall I have been known to get headaches, dizzy, nauseous etc. Believe me this is a win win situation for me and my family.

Now I had to decide which marathon to run in. Buffalo has a marathon in the spring, but I felt not this year perhaps in the future. New Jersey has one as well, but at a recent wedding my family attended.  A couple told me it took them eight and a half hours to make the trip to Mississauga from New Jersey.  I felt this was a little on the long side. Michigan has a marathon as well, but this is its second year and I felt there could be some organization problems. Pennsylvania has one called the "North South Marathon."  Each participant has to wear either a grey or a blue shirt symbolizing the side they would support in the American Civil War (I am not joking).  Although one year I would like to run for the side that fought against Slavery I felt this was not the year so I took a pass. A sign part way through my runs in the Ravine mentions that this trail is "the Etobicoke Creek Trail.

It starts in Toronto, winds through Mississauga, continues through Brampton and upon completion will end up in Caledon some 50 kms away from the start.

I thought of the four Marathons I have run in, and their Cities:
Mississauga         Mississauga Marathon`s 2009-2010
Toronto                Toronto Marathon 2012
Brampton             Boston Marathon 2011
Caledon               Cleveland Marathon 2013

I know absolutely nothing about Cleveland.There is a lot of positive`s however, the date May 19 fits in with my work schedule and I will only have to take minimal time off.  This is also on Victoria day so my Daughter`s will not have to miss much time at school.  The Hotels I have looked up are about half the price of Boston, also it is not as far as a drive.  On the website participants are encouraged to send out inspiring stories of why they have chosen to run this marathon, and I have sent my story in.

Some possible challenges are Gloria will have to work on the Friday before the marathon so I may be driving to a City I have never been to at night, also May 19 is the latest date I have ever run a marathon on and I fear like Betty White`s sitcoms title it may indeed be "Hot in Cleveland" for this marathon.

So now for the fun. I will begin training for this in September.  I have hopefully learned how to be ready for a marathon and I will slowly build the necessary miles allowing me to complete a full marathon.
This means I will have to start having Epsom/Sea salt baths again.
This means I will have to figure out how to make my work`s allotted funding for Massage Therapy (hi Melanie) and Acupuncture (hi Esther) last.
This means I also will again become a frequent shopper at the Running Room Outlet store (hi Carey).
This means my house will again have the aroma of Tiger balm.
This means I will have to get used to sleeping with ice packs under whichever body part hurts most again.
This means my seven hours of sleep I am getting in the Summer will be a thing of the past.
This means my family and coworkers will see me a little more tense, a little more on edge.
This means so much to me I am excited just typing this out.

In the Movie "How to train your Dragon" a boy named Hiccup befriends a Dragon named Night Fury in secret, as Hiccup is a Viking and Dragons are Viking`s enemies. Night Fury`s tail was wounded when Hiccup caught it so Hiccup designed something which allowed the Dragon to fly.  A very moving scene is when Hiccup who lost his own leg in a fight with a huge dragon securing Night Fury`s freedom walks outside for the first time with his prosthesisHiccup walks over to Night Fury and is able to ride his Dragon again.

In the Bible Jacob had a wrestling match with the Angel and walked with a limp for the rest of his life. Dick Hoyt who I mentioned earlier has had some Injuries requiring Surgeries which are the result of running so many races with his son. I have came to realize there is something very beautiful in being willing to sacrifice for someone or thing, even to the point of injury. I hope that what I perceive as a sacrifice that some may find Beautiful.

I sent a copy of the Hoyt`s story to Brian McConaghy founder and Director of Ratanak International. This is his response "Such a picture of a father`s love.  An illustration of God`s love for us.  We are told to run the race but in actual fact we are carried.  Every day of our Christian walk we are carried.  Until one day we will be carried over the finish line and credited with all the work that was not ours.  The "well done faithful servant will be the result of us being carried and placed at the foot of the throne by Grace.  Our only effort was to accept the offer of being carried and yet God credits us with being "runners" amazing!

My first reaction was to think of the incredible Humility this man has as if anybody could feel a little pride for the lifelong pursuit of sacrifices trying to bring freedom to the children in Cambodia surely Brian would be the one.  As I thought about his word`s for a few days I saw where his illustration actually is a recurring story in my races. 

I am far removed from the naive person who said five years ago I was going to run a Marathon.  My eyes have been opened to the physical difficulty, as well as the emotional and especially spiritual challenges. I start out each year strong, Healthy, and positive. During the course of my training there always is some pain or injury to work around.  I usually try to train harder then the actual race will be.  I try to run more Hills then the marathon will have.  Last year I ran a training run of 28 miles which is longer then an actual marathon.  I run on a treadmill at my Gym at least once a week to help with speed and also to get used to the uncomfortable heat that hits me in a very poorly ventilated area.  In spite of all this I seem to have a huge surprise in many of my races.

In a 10.8 km race called the Egg Nog Jog in Halton Hills last December, A man started chanting "Me Ha My, Me Ha My, Me Ha My." and tried to pass me at the 6km mark, for some reason I sped up and raced ahead of him. About a minute later the same man came up beside me only this time I could swear I heard him saying "They are Mine, They are Mine, They are Mine." in reference to the children in Cambodia, again I sped up and raced ahead of him. Third time I hear him coming again, louder this time "They are Mine!, They are Mine!, They are Mine!"  I said "No they`re Not, No they`re Not, No they`re Not and again refused to let him pass."  This man did not pass me before the finish line.

At the 2009 Mississauga Marathon I wrote about the lady who followed me up the steepest Hill and used my body to shield her from the 50 km/hr Wind, at the top of the Hill she said ”thanks I would not have made it without you."  I wrote about how the girls from the NewSong Center have to climb a steep hill every day for the rest of their lives and how I have to be willing to take on some of their burdens in leading them up this Hill. 

At the 2010 Mississauga Marathon I ran the last 14 kms with severe cramping in five separate muscles in my legs, yet this is also when I wrote about the girls being represented by the rocks I picked up on my longest training runs calling out "No more Auction block for me" as I ran.  At the end of the race I wrote about seeing all 13 girls appear to me singing about their freedom.

The 2011 Boston Marathon`s race was not that eventful, however a computer Crash on the day of registration had me giving up on running in this race, until one night two months after the crash an email appeared to Gloria`s email account, not mine asking me to complete my Boston registration form.  A friend who is an I.T. specialist told me this was impossible and stated that "I have friends in high places."

Last year`s 2012 Toronto Marathon I trained for a lot of things, however I did not train for the dehydration and cramping that resulted from being able to have only one cup of water the last 12 kms of the Race. At the beginning of each marathon race I start out strong.  I feel like I am the father and I am carrying the girls from Cambodia to the finish line.  Something unexpected seems to happen and I feel I cannot take another step.  This is when I usually utter what I have come to know as my marathon prayer out of desperation.  God then answers it and I become like the son Rick while God carries me to the finish line.  The interesting thing is that I have had some races with no problems at all, these are usually the ones in which I place much closer to the front; and yet when I am struggling so much to finish, the times when I feel God has to carry me to help me finish, these are the times when my most powerful writing comes out.

I wish everything goes perfect from now until May 19.  I hope I have an easy race with no drama at all, I hope I raise a lot of funding and awareness for Ratanak International with little effort and excitement, but I am not counting on it.

To close, this Summer I realized how much time and energy I waste on issues that don`t really matter, and how much more efficient I could be if I learned to ignore what does not matter and take stands on only the important issues.

The next words are from a commercial by the company Tap Out which is huge in the Mixed Martial Arts community.

My fight matters.  Does yours?
In everyday life fights materialize.
No championship belts.  No grand prize.
Just the reason you rise and strive to overcome.
It`s not about the battles won.
It`s what you stand for.
It`s sacrificing your comfort, and carrying on for a cause.
It`s for self satisfaction and not the applause.
It`s tearing down walls.
It`s what your exercising your might for.
My fight matters.  Does yours?


1 comment:

  1. May the angels continue to lead you, my dear friend, and may the Lord continue to carry you wherever He takes you, to Cleveland and, I think, one day to Cambodia. Much love, many blessings, Linda Ruth