Mysterious Ways: Fueled to the Finish Line

Would a knee injury put an end to her marathon dreams?

Posted in , Oct 6, 2014

A woman running as the sun rises.

Two weeks until the marathon—and my right leg looked like it had been through a war. I sat in the car, idling in my driveway, unable to stop staring at my swollen, throbbing knee. I winced just trying to flex it. My calf felt tight and sore too. I could barely climb out of the car, how was I in any shape for a 26.2-mile run? Was it time to let my dream go?

I’d just returned from the doctor’s office, where I’d received an injection to help relieve the pain. For the past five months I’d been training non-stop for my first-ever marathon. I’m an avid runner, and not just for health reasons—when I run, I feel more connected to God. I’d completed several 5K-runs, along with a few half marathons. But a full marathon? I never thought I had it in me. My running buddies and my husband, Jim, encouraged me to register for an upcoming race.

I rose at the crack of dawn to jog a few miles every day. Prepared high-protein meals and lifted weights to build muscle strength. For my weekly long-distance runs, I started at eight miles, slowly increasing by two miles each week. Whenever I wanted to quit, I envisioned crossing that finish line on the big day and pressed forward.

Then one day, I was up to 20 miles when a sharp pain right behind my knee slowed my pace. I hobbled off the trail and collapsed on a bench nearby.

I went to my doctor immediately. A scan revealed worn cartilage in my knees, and I’d severely strained my right calf muscle. Fluid injections would reduce the pain in my knee, but only rest would help me heal completely. “Take it easy for a few days,” he advised. “Your legs need a break.”

Was two weeks enough? Was I putting my body in danger? Maybe it was time to throw in the towel. I leaned my forehead against the steering wheel and closed my eyes. God, I prayed, what do I do?

I opened my eyes a moment later. The bright lights on the dashboard glowed. That’s when I saw it—right above the odometer, the number displayed on the miles-per-gallon readout: 26.2.

It was just the reassurance I needed. Two weeks later, I crossed the finish line of my first-ever marathon, pain-free.

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