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After we got Max, we quickly discovered that Jack Russells need exercise in order to not eat things like shoes and furniture, so I started walking the dogs. Little walks turned into longer mileage, and Rick encouraged me when I said I wanted to walk a half marathon.
Two years ago, I was training for the first one, and while I was comfortable with mileage, hills scared me. I am slow, and hills made my calf muscles scream.
Rick and I were here at our condo in Lake Lure, and there is a particular route on the back roads of the resort that I had always wanted to walk. It is quiet and in the woods, and of course, filled with twists and hills.
Rick, always my biggest cheerleader, encouraged me that I could do it. He even promised to meet me with the car at the end of the route and take me to get coffee.
I was able to follow that path that day with his encouragement. I finished and got my coffee.
He always said, "I don't care how far she goes as long as she comes back."
I have now done three half marathons so far: one "virtual" half with Nike (done on my own) and the Savannah Half twice.
Last summer, I did that Lake Lure route again, on my own. I needed to prove to myself that I still could.
Soon after, I began training again for the Savanah half, this second time last year with a group of amazing women ... because they love me and know I needed the encouragement. Getting back out there was hard because I did not have Rick here waiting when I got back. But I know he'd want me still out there, doing the mileage and learning how to do all this a new way.
The kids and I are at our condo at Lake Lure again this summer, and this morning, in the rain, I did that route again. But this time, God made me aware of how much this stretch of road mirrors my life.
The route is not one I ever thought I could do, much like living without Rick. There are parts of this path that are hard; those hills still make my calves scream, but not as badly as two years ago.
When I am in the quiet of the woods, I can feel God's presence. He showed me this morning that some of this road is smooth, some is filled with bad patches, but I am never far from Him or those who love me.
There will be hills, and valleys, and stretches that feel so lonely — but in the end, the walk is worth it.
This route finishes with a brilliant view of the lake — just like this life will finish with a awe-inspiring view of God. I pray that God will say to me "Well done," just the way Rick did when I made this trek the first time.
Related Post: Walking and Talking: A Tribute To An Unfinished Friendship