I love races! As I stated in my previous post, four weekends ago I finished Portland to Coast. I shared about the first leg of my journey and all that it taught me. What I neglected to share was that that leg took place at 10:45 a.m. when I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I passed 16 people on my walk—politely and with humility, might I add—and I felt ah-mazing.
After my leg, it was time for the other van to do their portion of the race and time for my van to rest. Which I did... sorta. I showered, ate, and dozed in and out, but in the middle of the afternoon it's hard to truly recuperate. Finally the time came for my van to walk the second portion of the race (again, read Lesson One to learn about how Portland to Coast works). But we didn't start our second set of legs until almost 9:00 p.m. at night. Even more foreboding was the fact that I was the last person in our van to walk. I wouldn't walk till almost 4:00 a.m.! Which meant even. more. waiting.
The Dark Before the Dawn
It got colder and darker as my van walked into the early morning hours. I was wrapped up like a burrito in the back of our van, in and out of slumber. Somewhere around 2:00 a.m., I thought, "Forget it. I am not getting out of this car. It is too freaking cold, I didn't pack the right gear to stay warm, and I don't care about winning anymore!" I was determined to convince my van mate to walk for me.
But my time was quickly approaching and everyone was looking me to suit up. They, too, were all tired and done with the experience. Looking at them—these five, awesome, crazy individuals who I had spent the last 24 hours with in a van, who were just as exhausted as me—got me fired up and ready to go again. If they did it, I could do it! And I knew with my passing of the baton, we could all finally, truly rest. I just needed to place one foot in front of the other like last time.
But unlike last time, looking forward wasn't so easy. Why? Because it was pitch black outside. There was a breathtaking array of stars above, I had a headlamp, and there were two or three other walkers around me that had their shiny gear, but once I got out of the exchange point, the other walkers were gone, leaving me alone. In the middle of the night. Cold. Dark. And tired. Even my jams weren't that much of a comfort. I was sleep deprived and a bit freaked out. The road ahead was windy, narrow, hilly, and had a steep drop off inches from the side of the road. Are you thinking by now, "What is she doing?!" Yeah, good question.
But somehow, I kept moving. And as I moved, I finally did see other humans—my team had stopped up ahead to cheer me on! They were waving their lights as I passed and that gesture lit up my heart. After they pumped me up, they moved on to the finish line. Any residual fear I felt when things quieted—and darkened—back down didn't linger for long, because every van from the other teams stopped to cheer us on, give us comfort or water, and a little bit of light in the dark. And as I booked it, my hips swaying in the night, the second lesson of this race hit me: who you journey with matters; they can shine a light for you!
Who You Journey With Matters
I can't tell you how much seeing other vans all lit up like a Christmas tree meant to me every time I made it past another switchback. It didn't matter to them who I was and it didn't matter to me that they weren't my technical team. At 4:30 a.m., we were all one team; we were on this road together and we all wanted to succeed. This kind of camaraderie—the kind that comes along side you—matters, especially at night when things get dark and you feel alone. In the light of day, it's easier to know who you are and that you are okay. But the dark of night creates a completely different experience, one that can close in on you and cause you to doubt. But if you are traveling your dark road with torchbearers in your corner, speaking hope and shedding light, well, that's what I call a "race changer."
Ironically, I gave up on competing during my second leg of the race. I didn't care about how many people I passed or how fast I walked. In fact I was confident I had slowed down. But when I got to the finish line, the time chip proved me wrong. I had walked faster that night than I had during the day. There could be lots of reasons for that, truth be told, but I believe being focused on others and accepting their support—their light—changed my race.
On your personal walk through life at home, school, work, etc., who's on your team? Are they willing to stop in the dark night of your life and shine a light for you, especially when you feel your own light is getting dim? For me, as a Christian, I see life as one big race toward eternity with Christ and I know how He has called me to walk it out. But more and more I have paid attention to who God has called me to walk with. And I cannot deny, that when life gets really dark, who I journey with has made all the difference. I pray you have that kind of support. It will change the way you walk your race.
Xo, Hannah ::
p.s. I would love to hear your thoughts on this blog. Leave a comment below!