By Barb Arland-Fye
A competitive nature and nagging leg pain left me dreading participation in a road race that draws thousands of runners to the Quad-Cities each year.
The Quad-City Times Bix 7 is a race I’d run for all but two of the last 27 years and I can’t resist its lure.
Last year’s race drained me and for the first time resulted in a visit to the medical tent afterwards to ensure I wasn’t ill.
Could that happen again this year? Or worse, what if I completed the race in a much slower time? I placed in my age category last year and had done so previously. Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins and maybe I was letting it get the best of me.
While a road race may seem a trivial thing to pray about, I prayed to be grateful for the good health that allows me to run and for a sense of peace about my performance on race day.
In my mind, I laid out each of the seven miles of the race and concentrated on the segments that challenge me most. This mind exercise didn’t allay my fear of failure, but during family prayers the night before the race my younger son prayed for me to have a good run. That meant a lot to me because his prayer was spontaneous and unsolicited.
On July 25 I lined up with some 15,000 participants on perhaps the most beautiful day in Bix history.
Keeping in mind what I had asked of God, I concentrated on fulfilling my part of the prayer. I paced myself, focused on the crowds and their encouragement to all of us and tried not to worry about the time splits at each mile. The latter was the toughest of all challenges. I knew my pace was off from last year, but it didn’t bother me as in past years when I was striving for a “pr,” or personal record. And my pace wasn’t that far off that I wouldn’t end up finishing the race in a respectable time.
Several miles into the race, I found myself thanking God for a sense of peace and confidence. I was enjoying the race more than I had in years.
Around mile five, I spotted some colleagues from the Davenport Diocese; it was a delightful, split-second encounter.
It also came at a milestone in the race when average runners like me know the finish line is within reach.
The next mile was an exchange of high-fives with kids lining the route and the mile after that was downhill toward the finish line. At the end of the hill is a flat stretch of a few blocks followed by a turn and another flat stretch of a few blocks. This is the spot where last year I began feeling slightly disoriented and overly fatigued. The late John Kiley, a friend and colleague, ran beside me saying encouraging words all the way to the finish line.
This year I had energy to spare, but I chose not to expend it. I wanted to finish the race strong, comfortable and at peace with myself. With God’s blessings, I did just that — and in a respectable 55 minutes.