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A Mountaintop Experience

“Today, class, you will be running to the airport and back.” I was in grade 10
Phys Ed and exhausted before I even started. I was a strong farm girl, packing
5 gallon pails of water and feed for the chickens and square bales to feed the
cows. It didn’t help with running. I began the run and as I met the bulk of the
class already on the way back, I simply joined them. I’m convinced that the
teacher gave me a passing grade based solely on my earnest attempts at the
required skills. It was a happy day when I knew that I didn’t have to do Phys
Ed anymore.

Over the years I attempted to participate in many sports. I tried tennis, biking,
cross country skiing, snowshoeing, slowpitch and various gym activities. Jane
Fonda would have been so proud of my 80s aerobic outfits and my
commitment to being fit. I regularly joined a friend at 5:30am for an hour walk
before our husbands needed to leave for work and we had to get back to our
kids. We never ran.

I moved on to a rowing machine, ski machine, treadmill and then an elliptical.
My youngest son, Logan, discovered the gym and weight training and then
went to college to become a personal trainer. He participated in a 10km
obstacle run last spring and signed up for a 20km mountain run in the summer.
I went as his support team, cheering him on, feeding him, washing his feet and
cleaning his wounds when he finished. I was dumbfounded at the over 1000
individuals who participated in the event, excited to take part in such a grueling
task. As many people asked if I was running, I laughed. It was unimaginable!

In a moment of what I’ll blame on hormone imbalance, I gave consideration to
Logan’s chirping, “Mom, you could do it.” Perhaps. Maybe. Why not? During
a routine visit to the doctor to get a prescription renewed for thyroid
medication, a blood pressure check revealed that it was high enough to warrant
medication. That tipped the scales for me and I determined to register myself
for the Emperor’s Challenge and begin training under Logan’s tutelage. I told
only a few individuals as I was not sure that I would be able to do it and I
didn’t want any unintentional but well meaning individual’s comments to
pressure me.

The day prior to the race we drove to Tumbler Ridge to pick up our race
packets and seeing my name on my race bib absolutely terrified me. Every
imaginable level of self doubt hit me and I wondered how I’d sleep.

I did manage a decent amount of sleep and we rose to a temperature of 0
degrees, drove in heavy fog to meet friends in Tumbler Ridge for car pooling
and then proceeded on the muddy road to the race location. We geared up and
about an hour later we assumed starting positions. Within minutes we were a
moving mass of determined participants. Some had goals of winning times and
others, like me, just wanted to cross the finish line.

The first kilometers were gravel roads on a switchback climb. As we hit the
trail through the trees and about 6kms of climb through mud and water, it was a
pleasure to be able to encourage 4 other challengers I met along the way. We
all embraced the mud, slogging through it, then scrambling over rocks. A lake
of water lay in place of what had been a lovely meadow and the orange stakes
that marked the trail disappeared under the water. My fear of water nearly
finished the race then and there. I figured out a way to scramble over rocks and
over dead trees to not have to go into the unknown depths of the water.

A short time later I reached a wide open area at the top of a climb. The mist
was thick, I was alone on the trail and the silence was perfect. My heavenly
Father had blessed me with the opportunity to be in His stunningly amazing
creation at this very moment. It nearly took my breath away it was then that I
knew that I would cross the finish line, regardless of my hip pain or what kind
of terrain I had yet to navigate. My mountaintop experience in the beautiful
misty silence.

I limped the last few kilometers of the race but pushed myself to run the last
couple hundred feet to cross the finish line. Logan was waiting for me and the
tears flowed as we hugged. Standing there with aching, sweat soaked bodies
and mud coated feet, I was incredibly grateful for a hormone imbalanced
decision, hours of training, insane nerves, a body that allowed me to meet the
physical challenge, my mountaintop experience and the gift of doing the
challenge with my son.

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