A story of a calling; An ode to running.
If you have read much or any of my blog over the past few years, you are aware of the rough road that I’ve RUN since walking-on the Oregon State Cross Country and Track team my freshman year of college. But if your new here, this is a brief background…
This is my 5th year on the Oregon on the Cross Country and Track team. My freshman year I redshirted because I was.. well I was slow ha, and I was not physically or mentally ready to compete at the division one level. I improved a lot each season, until I eventually earned a scholarship. As I continued to improve, I started winning races, traveling, and running workouts that I never thought my body was capable of running. I felt underserving of the success that I was experiencing, and I prayed that I would never take the glory or credit for any of my accomplishments. For I was confident that is was only by the power of the Holy Spirit that I ran victoriously during that time. And my faith increased.
My success was so sweet, but it was so short lived. After my junior cross country season I began to face injury after injury, and illness after illness. Instead of fighting to the finish on the track, I was fighting against my own body… Headed in to track season I was determined to race, despite my lack of preparedness. I knew that my God was for me, and He would replenish my strength when I grew weary. I managed to get through most of a track season that year, but got really sick right before PAC 12’s. I missed a lot of training and my body was weak, yet for some reason I had a strong urge to compete. The entire race felt like I was running against a wall. I could hear my coach telling me “Audrey sweetie you can step off,” but I kept hearing the Holy Spirit whisper in my ear as I gasped for each breath, “Audrey, be faithful to the finish.” So by faith alone, I finished.
That was the last race I ran on the track. It was almost exactly two years ago.
Since then I have competed twice. I’ve been the injured captain of the cross country and track team… I felt so defeated. I felt like I was letting down my team, coaches, trainers, parents, and everyone who has supported me in this sport. As much as I questioned if I should press on, the answer rung in my years. “Audrey, I am only calling you to be faithful.”
So I pressed on.
More hours spent in the training room, starting at the cement walls while on the stationary bike, and befriending the lifeguards while I run in the pool with a ridiculous looking belt strapped to my waist…
On my locker I have sticky note that has been up there for the past couple years. It says, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion..” (Philippians 1:6). I might not be the one to carry it completion. But my God has orchestrated a specific purpose for me to carry out by responding to the call, to be faithful to the finish.
I didn’t race at all my senior year, but decided to stay in school for a 5th year, add on another major, and use up all my eligibility to compete. Especially since I hadn’t been able to. So my 5th year cross country season rolls around and I am finally healthy enough to start racing again. I run two races and then my season ends with a stress fractured back. How the heck you say? I have no idea. All I know is that the Lord is faithful, and His past faithfulness demands my present trust.
I’m coming to the realization that this sport has taught me how to be faithful, much more than it has trained me to be fast.
When my cross country season unexpectedly ended, I was so thankful that at least I had my track season left and I could finish on a good note… But it has been far from what I had hoped it would be.
Although I seem to be always broken, I will continue to be always surrendered to the Lord’s calling. And He has called me from, through, and to.
He called me from doubt, through tribulation, to be FAITHFUL.
I feel like my relationship with running is similar to a off-and-on dating relationship. Running and I, have broken up with each other over and over… But this time, I know it’s the final break-up.
Tomorrow is my last/only chance to run one more race in my Oregon State Uniform. It will be my first time running on the track that we have built (and I have helped fundraise for) since my coming to Oregon State. It will be the first and last time Jeremy (my fiance) gets to see me race. Two years ago I set a goal to win a race on our home track. That was before we had a home track, but it was my dream. Tomorrow I will lace up my spikes and run 3 and 3/4 laps (because I don’t have the milage for a 5k nor the speed for an 800) around our home track, and be recognized as a graduating senior (and I won’t be in my street clothes).
My teammates, parents, coaches, and friends who have followed my running career know how emotional this day is for me. Many of them have asked me, “Are you ready for tomorrow?!” in an excited for me kind of tone. And as much as I am excited to, I know that I am far from being physically ready. I missed 9 weeks of training when I blew out my ankle. The past 3 weeks my assistant coach Travis Floeck has prepared me and encouraged me as best as he could off of no base milage, no races, and a taped ankle. After the first workout I left the track to go run my cool down with tears streaming down my face. I can’t possibly be in shape to run at all this season… I’m further behind than I have ever been, and miles from being in shape. Pun totally intended…. And the second workout was no different, and the third.
It wasnt how I pictured my first workout on the track that I had invested so much of my heart and energy into. I sat down with my coach Travis after my 3rd or 4th workout and mustered up the courage to ask the question I knew the answer to, but was unwilling to face. I asked him “so what’s the plan for me…” to which he responded as I had expected. He said “I’d love for you to run at the home meet cause I know that’s what you’ve always wanted.” It was bittersweet. These past 3 weeks I have been running workouts that I am not ready to run, but simply to get the most work I can, in the shortest amount of time.
This is not how I thought, hoped, or prayed that it would end. Although it’s nothing like I would have planned or imagined, I know the Lord has mightier plans, and His ways are far better than my ways.
So I will run on that track. I will race on more time. I love racing to much to pass up this one last chance. I will be faithful to the finish.
For me, there is nothing that compares to the JOY of racing. I experience the presence of the Holy Spirit when I race more than any other time in my life. Running and racing have been so tied to my faith and to my relationship with the Lord. I have known the power and victory of the Holy Spirit through racing, and I have fallen on my knees in the deepest of dependencies during the times of sickness, weakness, and strife. As much as I love to cheer on my teammates and pray for them before competition, I am so excited not to be standing on the sidelines tomorrow, but to be running in between the white lines.
So I will run ONE MORE. I will write “always more” on my hands one more time, and I will run the race set before me. I will run this race 100% on the power invested in me by the Holy Spirit, which is my ONLY reason for confidence when I step to that line.
This sport has given me more than I could have ever asked or imaged, I just wished that I could have given it more than I was able to. Tomorrow I will give it everything I got.
“My banner over you is victory. If you will look and if you will spiritually connect with Me you will see you are destined to victory. No matter what the odds, no matter how intense the war, no matter the level of correction that is necessary, no matter what it might be that you are going through at this time, understand that it is a time of war and the enemy is after you. Your enemy is chaos, and he will create those situations and those things that will be a deterrent to you. But, make the determination today to win because I am with you, always leading you in triumph, always bringing you through, and watching over you. You are not alone in this battle. I encourage you to continue to fight the good fight of faith. Rise up and declare your victory into the. Write a decree of victory over your life. Arise and go forth into the battle. I am with you, says the Lord.”
Although I do believe that it is possible to win my race tomorrow, I am more concerned with being FAITHFUL, than being fast.
Lord I pray that I would run this race by your power, for your glory, so that when I finish you might say to me, “well done my good and faithful servant.”