Julie Lyles Carr: Chosen

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chosen

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We made it.

Whew.

Saturday was the inaugural event for Chosen, a marathon benefiting international adoption.

JT and I have been training for many weeks for this race. While I have long been a runner, I'd never participated in a 'real' half-marathon. JT ran one last year and was the one who started making noise back in the spring that we should do the Chosen run.

JT's husband, AT, is doing an Iron Man in two weeks, so he also ran the Chosen, just as a, you know, training run and all. And he got his mom and sister to walk the half-marathon.

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Because it was for a fantastic cause.

And one that is close to all our hearts.

JT and AT are adopting a child from Ethiopia and are heading out in a few weeks for Africa for the first of two trips they will make to bring that sweet little one home. We've run many a mile together talking about this child, the incredible journey of bringing the vision of adding him to their family a reality. For now, we call him Brother and he has been a very real presence through all our training.

And there were many miles of training where Rose and Patricia were foremost in my thoughts. If you consistently read Octamom, you know about my precious friends Kristi and Russ who made a mission trip to Uganda last year and fell in love with two little girls at an orphanage. They began the adoption process and were to bring the girls home this spring.

And then things got a little crazy.

After completing almost all the steps necessary to bring the girls home, everything got snagged on a little item called visas.

You can go here for all the history.

For those of us stateside as Kristi and Russ struggled in Africa to try to get these girls home, we often felt helpless. As the spring months rolled into summer and then as JT and I began the formal training schedule for the race, Rose and Patricia's names were often my breath in and my breath out, a running prayer for doors to open and for a way to be made.

And in September, the Lord opened those doors.

And Rose and Patricia are now home.

So JT and I ran with signs on our backs, she for Brother and in memory of her nephew, me for Brother and for Rose and Patricia. And I wrote the girls' names on my hand, a little visual of their journey.

And I looked at my palm a few times.

Because this half-marathon course was something else.

Gorgeous and grueling.

Hills, hills, hills.

Did I mention the course had serious hills?

The course had serious hills.

When JT and AT and I looked at the course map and the elevation map, it didn't seem all that daunting. Yeah, a few inclines here and there. A little hiccup.

Maybe that's why they had us start the race in the dark.

We drove to Gruene, Texas, in the dark dark dark on Saturday morning. At race starting time, it was still dark. Mike came with us to cheer us on and to hold our keys.

He is very handy that way.

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As we took off, we couldn't see much of anything, other than the glowing iPods of the runners around us and the reflectors on the backs of running shoes. We could feel the undulations of the road under our feet and the gradual inclines and declines that marked the first couple of miles of the course, but our beacon in the dark dark dark were the flashing lights of the patrol cars marking the way in the distance.

And then the sun began to gain muted light through the cloud cover.

Around mile 3, we rounded a long curve and began a steep descent, headed toward the Guadalupe River. As that descent continued....and continued....and continued, we began to think about what it was going to take to get back.

The trail along the river was amazing. The Guadalupe flows a softened jade green through cream limestone cliffs. Campgrounds dot the shoreline, the scent of campfires perfuming the scenery. Campers stood along the roadside, sipping early morning coffee and cheering us on. Occasional gentle raindrops would cool our cheeks and a breeze would lift from the spring-fed waters of the river. We reached the turnaround point for the half-marathon, cheered on those continuing on to do the full marathon and made our u-turn in the road.

And then the climb began.

By mile 10, the ligaments than run on the outside of my knees had apparently learned English and were talking to me. Talking a lot. I kept trying to quiet them down with sips of water and Advil. Then JT's left knee started talking to her. And by mile 11, those ligaments were screaming at the two of us and JT was reciting Isaiah 40:31 and talking about Brother and I was looking at the names written on my hand. And the road kept climbing.

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We hadn't trained for such extreme terrain as this. While we were conditioned for distance and for gradual elevation changes, we had mainly trained on smooth, level roads with moderate hills.

But having watched Rose and Patricia's journey, the metaphor seemed apt.

As Kristi has told me of the experience of getting the girls here, in the final stages of that course, the terrain change was extreme. And Kristi and Russ often experienced pangs of fatigue and discouragement on those steeper hills.

But they kept drinking the water of the Word. And we kept cheering from the sideline.

And, eventually, around that last long curve and hill, the finish line came into view.

When JT and AT bring Brother home, I can't wait to stand at the finish line to cheer them on.

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JT and I grabbed hands and sprinted across the finish line together on Saturday. Our names were announced and recovery drinks were pushed into our hands. We were donned with medals around our necks and hugs and kisses from our spouses.

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And then we took in the scene around us, families with children adopted from across the globe, clans brought together across continents, tribes built from compassion and hope and sacrifice and joy.

Chosen.

Makes me want to do it all over again next year.

Once my knees stop talking to me.

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