Sunday, February 20, 2011

Inspirational Friends

(This was a journal entry I wrote in October.  After I finished this layout today I wanted to share it with my experience.)

As I started to run in my fist ½ marathon (August 7th, 2010 – Provo Canyon) I knew that one of the only ways I was going to be able to run this race was with the divine help of my Heavenly Father. I also knew that He wanted me to run this race. I felt that the race had been placed in my life for me to succeed at, to give me strength for the trials coming up in my life, and to be a starting point for more physical challenges I might want to undertake in the near future. I had felt from the moment I made the decision to run in the race that it had been an answer to prayers – both my own and prayers of those who love me.

But in the moment that the race was about to begin and I started one of the many prayers in my heart for the day I had a thought enter my mind that changed the race for me….and quite possibly changed my outlook and life from that point forward. I had the thought that it was important to pray before a race (I’d had other experiences regarding prayer and running that had proven this to me) – but that if I focused on “Please bless ME to run better. Please take away the pain in MY feet – etc” that I would be focusing entirely too much on myself. In doing that I worried that I might find myself focusing on my difficulties, my pains, and that it might make those things seem worse in some ways. Sure as you run it is important to think about yourself somewhat – I mean who else is going to tell your legs to move, or your lungs to breathe…but I needed to take myself out of the equation for a moment.

So as I started the race I decided that from that point on when I needed some help in my running, or needed a distracting thought to keep me from focusing on the difficult task or pain in my body – I would say a prayer for someone else. Instantly I knew what I needed to do. A friend of mine Cathryn Jensen from the group I’m a part of was embarking on a VERY difficult race that day also. She would be doing the Pine Valley 15 mile run. This run made my ½ marathon look like a picnic as the trails were off road, steep, difficult and it was even longer in distance. I knew that Cathryn was nervous about the race and that it was something she was incredibly scared about.

So as I began my prayers I prayed that Heavenly Father would bless her with wings on her feet. I asked that she would have a calm mind, that her pains would be eliminated and that she would find the strength I knew she had within herself. If a blister started to hurt I’d pray and ask that Cathryn’s shoes would fit comfortably, that her legs would move strongly and that she would enjoy the time she was having in the beautiful mountains.

As I did this I was feeling closer to my Heavenly Father, and I was able to not focus on the hard time I was having. It was so powerful to me. But truthfully after the race I didn’t think too much about it….not until I read Cathryn’s account of the race that she ran. As I read what she had journaled about after her experience it came full circle – it made sense and strengthened my testimony of prayer in a way I haven’t quite experienced before. Here are just a few of the words she wrote about things she learned from her run:
  •  Heavenly Father truly does care about our goals and personal accomplishment:
  • I have back issues. I injured my back in the MTC (missionary training center) many years ago. My bottom two vertebrae are squished together and push on my sciatic nerve. For many years this has caused me a lot of pain. I have never been able to run more than a couple of miles without stopping to stretch my back out and decompress. I usually complete a run limping because it is just too much pounding pressure for my back to handle. Today, I didn’t have to stop once out of pain. My back didn’t even “twinge” or falter in the least. I have never felt more strength in my back as I did today.
  • The last month or so, my right knee has hurt once I hit 5 miles or so of running; not today. Not an ounce of pain.
  • I live at sea level in California. Today’s run was at 6500 feet. Not once did I feel like I was gasping for air or struggling to get enough oxygen today. I have felt it every run I have done here in Utah, but not today.
  • Today’s weather could not have been more perfect. It was cool (60ish degrees), very overcast, breezy and even sprinkled on us a few times. When I thought to myself, “wow, we are so lucky to have such nice weather this morning” I had a very calm, warm and peaceful feeling penetrate my heart and my soul heard the words, “I did it for you.” (Ok, now I am crying AGAIN just thinking about this. I know what I heard; I heard a loving Father ‘s whisper.)

As I read her account and feelings and the tears flowed freely - I had the strongest rush of gratitude for her experience. SO grateful that she took the time to write about how she’d felt. I felt so strong in my heart, “Those blessings were answers to prayers.” I didn’t have the feeling of “look what you did” – because I didn’t have anything to do with it. I had the feeling of “You looked outside of yourself as you ran – which blessed you. But at the same time it blessed others. We are all so connected and prayers are one of the most important ways of connecting us.” My testimony of prayer exploded that day and I felt such a confirmation of love from our Heavenly Father who wanted Cathryn and I to both have beautiful experiences.

So I’ve thought about this experience as I’ve ran other races. I’ve tried to focus on others, tried to think of other people who my need prayers answered (don’t we all???). Because of that my running time has become a sacred time for me. The time when my feet hit the pavement and I feel the fresh air are not only therapeutic for my body – but they are energizing and refreshing for my spirit and my soul. I feel so close to my Heavenly Father and the blessings He is waiting to pour out on me. I find my running time to be truly one of the most spiritual places I can be. I have had inspiration whispered in my ears, feelings brought to my heart and answers literally told to me in my mind. Running is a sanctuary for me and for that I will be eternally grateful.

I had the blessing of getting to meet Cathryn in person this past week at the Denver Transformation Conference. As I was leaving the convention on Saturday I had the feeling like I should tell Cathryn about my experience back in August. We would both be running in the ½ marathon the following morning and I felt a strong feeling like I should tell her how her running in Pine Valley had changed my testimony and blessed me for life. I felt a little apprehensive about telling her because I didn’t want to say, “Look at me – I prayed for you.” That just sounded so pompous and proud….so I tried to find the right words and tell her of the experience.


As I finished telling her how it had blessed me, and how grateful I was that she shared the blessings she’d felt as she ran she was just so sweet about it. She wiped the tears away and I remember her saying, “You’re making me cry – and I don’t cry!” I loved looking at her face and the sweet, beautiful connection we were able to make. I’m so grateful that my experiences with the community have blessed my life in many, many ways. I am so blessed to have been touched and inspired by many people like Cathryn. So grateful for that!

Journaling from the layout:


One of the highlights of attending the Denver Transformation conference was meeting Cathryn Jensen. Cathryn has been a big inspiration to me through my Transformation journey. She is such a strong and amazing woman and mom. I have learned a lot about hard work and not giving up from her. I got to share with her the experience I had when I ran my first half marathon and how she’d touched me. (She was also running a big race at the same time and I concentrated on praying for her when my own race would become difficult for me. Focusing on someone else while turning my heart to prayer helped me to not focus on my own difficult journey while my heart was drawn out in prayer. I loved giving her a hug and telling her how great I think she is! (October 16, 2010)



Chelsea said...

wow. thank you for sharing that! i've struggled to be in the habit of running since my first race in october [stupid holidays :)] but that race was amazing to me because i went further and faster than ever before. your post helped me realize that while i did think about myself and how far i'd come, i was also thinking about all those women around me, wondering about the hurdles they had overcome and were still overcoming to be there. perhaps that in the key to a successful race--get outside yourself. i will have to remember this!!

Leejean Stanger said...

Beautiful!! thank you for sharing. I believe the same principle holds true for life in general. In the race of Life, when things are the hardest, it helps to think and pray for others. Then our life isn't so hard. Or the Lord makes our burdens lighter to bare and our running shoes faster.

Wendy Kae said...

That was a beutiful post. You are such an inspiration to me. Not just the "transformation" you've made, but the love and care you show others. You not only have good, selfless thoughts, you put those thoughts into action. Thank you for your example and the hope and excirement it inspires in me.