Tiny Dart Frog

Poison Dart Frogs are some of the tiniest and beautiful creatures on the planet; they are also incrediably deadly. So, why call this blog "Tiny Dart Frog"? It goes back to the old adage - good things come in small packages. We are all created exactly as God has intended - unique, strong, and beautiful.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


This past weekend I ran the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio.  I've run marathon's before, so the question of whether or not I would finish never really crossed my mind.  I knew I'd finish, but I felt insecure about my 'readiness' for this race.  My training had been great, up until about 4 weeks ago and then everything hit at once.

First, it was Holy Week, then it was Easter, then I was sick, then there were all these other obligations - too numerous to mention, but probably not so unlike your own life, so you know what I'm talking about.  Every time I turned around there was another 'then...'.  It was, as I told many of my friends, the 'perfect storm'.  No way I could keep up or catch up.

And...this doesn't take into account my family.

I thought I knew one thing though: the way to make it to the end (which ironically, the marathon was the culmination of all these events), was FULL speed ahead.  Press on through.

The morning of the marathon, as I found my corral, [the starting position each runner is assigned based on previous times and anticipated finish times] I was not only acutely aware of my lack of 'readiness', but also my 'aloneness'.  Almost every other race I've run I've been with someone.  This race, I did have a friend with me, but she was in a different corral.

I knew that I was going to have to run a different race than I'd done in the past.  So, I positioned myself in the corral in proximity to the 3:30 pacer;* standing just far enough away that I knew where he was and waited for the gun.

I don't run with a pacer.  Ever.  Or at least, I should say, until that day - I'd never run with a pacer.  I run my own race....

I go out fast and hard for as long as possible.  That's my usual strategy.  I run my own race, my own way.

But this morning was different.  My uncertainty left me longing for support and so, as I stood there, I decided to run with the 'pacer guy,' which is what I was calling him in my head.  But I didn't tell him that.  I didn't tell the pacing group that.  I kept it to myself, figuring I would run on the fringe.

As we took off, I looked out over the river, and tears crept into my eyes.  It struck me that the 'marathon of life' had finally caught up with me.

I hung out there on the edges, holding myself back with the pacing group, maintaining a steady pace.  Not rushing ahead.  Not dashing around the guy in front of me.

It was hard.  I race.  I compete.  I don't hang back.

But I had made a decision that morning to try a new way.

At about mile 9, when my legs were itching to just GO and I was about to leave the pace group behind, Doug, the 'pacer guy,' asked the group where they were from.  Well, everyone was from Ohio, except me.  I had my headphones in, because as I said, I really didn't plan on committing to the group.  But, I piped up, "Maryland".

Doug glanced over at me and said, "Hey.  How long did it take you to get here?"
"Oh, not a long flight.  An hour and a half.  About nine hours if you were going to drive it," I responded.

He sort-of did a head bob and said, "Well, tuck yourself in here, because we're coming into some tight turns and we don't want to loose you."

So, I did.
It was.... odd.  Didn't want to loose me?

As much as I believe in team and community and supporting one another, I often get scared of relying on someone else.  So, I end up running my own race, in my own way.... Full out all the time.

Until I crash and burn.

Which is typically how I end a marathon.  Towards the end, my miles get slower and slower, which by the time you've logged 20 miles, let alone 26 miles, makes sense.

But this time, I found myself inching closer to him as we ticked off the miles.  We chatted.  We ran.
And, as I pressed the lap button on my watch at each marker, I noticed that every single mile was consistent - within seconds of one another.  And I wasn't tired.  I could maintain this for a very long time.

I was keeping pace.  Not rushing ahead.  Not falling back.  Just in the moment.

Keeping pace...

And while it's true that I could 'feel' the wear of the miles, around mile 20, Doug asked me, "How are you feeling?"
And I said, "Well, I'm starting to 'feel' it..."

His response, while most likely not profound to him, resonated deep within me.  "If you weren't starting to feel it by now then you should've been in another pace group.  You are exactly where you are supposed to be, Christine."

Keeping pace...Exactly where I was supposed to be.  That felt nice.
And the pace helped me arrive exactly where I was supposed to be in so many ways.

Not too tired to enjoy the ride, but tired enough to feel the burn of satisfaction.

As we rounded out the last few miles, we were both quiet - just putting one foot in front of the other - drawing energy from the other.  Committing ourselves to that pace for that race, committed us to each other.  We were in it together.

This, this, was new to me.
I most certainly let people push me forward...but not often do I let people hold me back.
I most certainly give of myself to others...but I'm not very good at receiving.

So, at mile 25 when he looked at me and said, "Just GO.  You got this....".

I went.
I went strong.  And certain.  And with energy.  And gratefulness.  And I experienced the end....
because I never hit the 'wall'.  Mile 26 was even just a touch faster than my overall average.  I enjoyed the culmination without crashing and burning.

When I crossed the finish line I turned around to see Doug cross the line and I smiled.  My whole sweaty, exhausted, weak body smiled.  I walked over to him, shook his hand, and said, "Thanks."

And he leaned over, put his hands on his knees, and looked up at me and smiled.  A 'whole body' smile and said, "You kept me going there at the end.  Thanks...".

And that, I didn't expect.
I actually probably expected nothing...at least not from 'pacer guy'.
The race and he.... and well, God, through those miles gave me so much.
A huge metaphor for my life.

Going into this marathon I was so very tired.  The 'marathon of life' was racing along, making me feel as if I wasn't running my race, but that the race was running me.  I wasn't pacing.  I wasn't slowing down.  I wasn't letting others do (at least not without feeling guilty)... and, well, it wasn't working in terms of being able to enjoy the 'ride'.

So, as I gingerly walked to meet the friend I came with, she ran up to me and said, "Wow!  Best time ever!"

And I said, "I ran it differently then I've ever done.  I ran with a pacer the whole time.  I totally recommend it.  I'll do that again."

I'll do it again for sure.  And not just while pounding the pavement.
See, what I really heard out there through the sweat and the cheers was a small still voice running alongside me pointing out a different way to do life.

Give and Receive.
Swift and steady.
Go out in joy and finish in joy.

*A pacer is a runner which agrees to help other runners maintain a given pace to help them achieve their desired finish time.  A pacer typically paces a group which is slower than his or her own marathon pace, so that they won't get too tired to help others.

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