Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Runner of Steel

Do you ever think you are in control? Do you try to take control?
I always do.
I had numerous reminders this past weekend showing me just how little control I have over my life.
This weekend was a family trip to Pittsburgh. I always get lost driving so my family relies on G.P.S when we go on an out of town vacation. The G.P.S sent us past the downtown district to a very rough looking area. With each block the area and the area`s inhabitants look rougher. I tell my Daughter`s to roll up their windows as I start getting unnerved. Gloria tells me "the G.P.S may get our tires slashed. Finally the G.P.S tells us we have arrived at our destination. "Our destination" is a boarded up building with cars stripped of all their valuables sitting on concrete blocks.
I pull the car into a store parking lot and back the car up to face the street entrance ready to make a quick escape if necessary. I tell my family to open the car doors for no one as I go in the store to ask for directions. We eventually find our hotel, we figured out we neglected to put the postal code in the address allowing for our misadventure.
What may seem funny now was very frightening when it happened.
We park the car in the underground garage picking a total random spot and the first of so many "coincidences" take place.
We end up parking in spot 262 as in 26.2 miles I am to run on Sunday. Or what I think is planned for me to run 10 full Marathons which equal 262 miles.

Because of a shortage of time Saturday morning we eat our breakfast at the Hotel knowing full well how much more we are going to pay. Our waiter is a loud, friendly, seemingly slow man.
I read on the reviews for our hotel about this waiter owning a store and I asked him about it.
What followed next was 15 minutes of wisdom expressed most beautifully. Gloria teared up first. I thought to myself I am in the presence of a modern day Prophet. I thought of Heaven and knew that this man has a place of honour at Jesus`s right side, and I had the privilege of meeting him in person while on earth.
Saturday morning was supposed to be a surprise, but try keeping two teenage girls away from a surprise. My two beautiful girls have learned that they are to be part of a dog walk to benefit an animal rescue wildlife center. Ann Yeager the Director and myself had been in correspondence for a few months. She has arranged for friends to "lend" us their dogs for this walk. We actually were V.I.P`s at this event.
The dog walk is amazingly fun. In keeping with my running tradition no one in my family won.

Race day Sunday morning getting on the elevator I exchange pleasantries with two couples. The older couple are there to cheer on their daughter. The younger couples are both runners. The younger man is trying "his first and probably last marathon." The older Father and I exchange a knowing glance. The Father says "he hears this after every race." I may not say it out loud but many times I have thought it.

The start of the race is very slow. A City street is not built for having 30 000 runners on it at the same time.
I run over five bridges this day. On one of the bridges I had these thoughts.

I think of  Matthew 16:18 and the gates of hell.
Instead of a bridge I see forces of evil striking at, trying to knock open a door to a building. Inside the building are girls of various ages. Girls rescued from sex slavery in Cambodia, girls on their way to a new life. I see a hand seal the doors and windows from the inside. Evil cannot penetrate this building as this hand is from Heaven.
Brian, Lisa, Don you are building your church on the land in front of the bodies of Cambodian children and the gates of hell shall not prevail.

7 mile mark I hear very loud applause for me. My camouflage shorts are very popular as I run past a military school whose students are decked out in their own camou.

9 mile mark My first low point. I think to myself  What are you doing here? What difference will it make? Why don`t you quit? You are not the man for this!
To make matters worse I figured that 9 miles out of 26.2 is barely one third of the way finished. Consistent with every marathon I have run numerous body parts have started acting up and I know this will only get worse.

12 mile mark Another low point. "Half marathoners go to the left, full marathoner`s go to the right" the loudspeakers tell the runners. Psychologically this is always very hard seeing most of the runners turn off who have one mile to finish, while the rest of us are not even half way finished. To make matters worse the next 12 miles are going to be uphill.
The biggest hill I have ever ran is next, it is over one mile straight up. After running this gigantic hill it took me two full miles to recover my breathing.

16 mile mark I feel something is off in my body, but I do not know what. I do know I will be most fortunate if whatever is bothering me does not come out before the race is finished.

18 mile mark I run through a very festive area. Reggae music blares at me. People from this neighbourhood are dancing with such enthusiasm I am envious of their energy. An older woman offers me a full bottle of water. I accept taking my time to make sure I drink the whole bottle. I thank her and she blesses me.

19 mile mark Another huge hill. I actually get upset and think "come on another one." I did read the elevation chart of this marathon and trained many miles on hills this past winter, but running these hills is another thing and I do see why Pittsburgh takes pride is calling itself "the hilliest marathon in America."

20 mile mark My right calf starts twitching. Afraid of cramps I place my hand on my calf and pray.

21 mile mark My right calf has started spasming. I step on the curb and stretch it out. This alleviates the pain and I continue.

22 mile mark My right hamstring has a feeling like electric currents starting up. Seconds later wave upon wave of spasms continually move up and down my right leg. Stretching against the curb, than even a light standard do nothing to alleviate the intense pain.
I hobble down the road not able to put my full weight on my right leg.
A volunteer tells me the first aid tent is up ahead on the right. I shake my head no and ignore her continuing on.

23 mile mark Hearing my name mentioned jolts me out of my focus on the pain. I wrote this line on a board at the expo thinking nothing of it. Gloria snapped a picture, and the volunteer told me my saying would be mentioned during the race.

The m.c`s exact words were "People make some noise for Larry Dearlove of Canada who is running this race for Cambodian children." As the applause started tears start streaming down my face.
I think of the perfect timing of this source of encouragement and only God could pull this off.
Not finished yet, a song I wrote about in a previous blog by Sia is played on the loudspeaker. This is a song that the lyrics spoke to me of girls in Cambodia receiving healing as I struggle to finish a marathon.


Little girls you were hurt
Can`t feel anything, when will this end?
You push it down, push it down

But I`m holding on for dear life, I won`t look ahead won`t open my eyes
Keep my legs strong until the finish line, cause I`m just holding on for the line
Help me, I`m holding on for dear life, won`t look ahead, won`t open my eyes
Keep my legs strong until the finish line, cause I`m just holding on for the line
Cause I`m just holding on for the line, just holding on for the line
25 mile mark I hear the roar of the crowd leading to the finish. An enthusiastic spectator runs onto the course and I fist bump him.

26.2 mile The finish line I shuffle across the line. Long gone were any thoughts of a fast time. I finish in 3 hours and 38 minutes, my second worst time ever. The m.c says congratulations you are a Runner of Steel.
I am elated! I run for God`s glory and my destiny today was to struggle through this race.

This wall of inspiration is the biggest reason I choose to run this race. I wanted to publicly write out why I would run a marathon.
I was offered a choice of silver or gold for my marker. I choose gold, as gold is given to the best. I know the girls I run for have a crown of gold waiting for them in Heaven.

Today I ran for one
Today I ran for you
I may never see your face
But you are the reason I finished this race

Today I ran for one
Today I ran for you
I may never know your name
But He has wiped away your shame

Today I ran for one
Today I ran for you
A brothel is a place of terror and fear
Today He has dried your tears

Today I ran for one
Today I ran for you
Your abusers hands have been removed
Today your life will be improved

Today I ran for one
Today I ran for you
You were never given a choice
Today He has silenced your accusers voice

Today I ran for one
Today I ran for you
Today I ran for one
Today I ran for you
Today I ran for one
Today I ran for me
A consistent reward of finishing a marathon is seeing my wife Gloria, the most beautiful woman in the world waiting for me at the finish line.
On a scale of 100 being the most difficult this race was a 98. I do not say 100 because that may still be coming. Physically it was much harder than any other race I have ran, including Boston.
I do know things are going to unravel in a marathon despite all my training. This is because of the spiritual element. When you say you are running a race in the belief that it can make a difference in the freedom of a person I believe you set yourself up to be a target.
My reward in a race are those moments when God appears.
Sunday I believe one child was moved closer to their spiritual freedom during my marathon. 
In closing my family and I loved the City of Pittsburgh, but I will never, ever, ever run in their marathon again.

June 13 is The 5km walkathon to support Ratanak International at Erindale Park in Mississauga more information can be found at 5kmwalkathon.com
Text WALK to 855-950-0303 to register Text HOPE to donate
I will be at the walkathon, but I will not be running.



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