It’s Sunday morning, which for us usually means getting ready for Church somewhere between 8:30 or 9:30, following negotiations on which Church we’ll go to (we are regular visitors at 3 different congregations, and are divided between which helps us grow both in our spirit and as members of the body of Christ.
This morning I stepped back from all of that because it is Race Day. The Borneo International Marathon (and 10k) started at dawn today, and I was running it. The race was originally set for May 5, but was postponed when elections were announced for May 5 (elections are announced only 4 weeks in advance) and then 700 detonators went missing from a local quarry (all of this right after the tragedy in Boston). So, the race was postponed, and my training regimen went the way of the do-do because I mostly train while the kids are at school.
So there I was, this morning, 5 AM, standing with the 3,000 or so people waiting for the race to begin. In true Sabah-style, the starting line sign was facing the wrong way, so right before the race they had to get this huge crowd of people to move to the opposite side of the starting line. (I say Sabah style, but really it is just the style of a culture that values flexibility over precise preparation.)
Because of the move, we were crowded even closer together, and I thought, “I am a slow runner; I am going to get trampled when the real runners behind me take off!” But in that moment, I suddenly remembered it is Sunday morning, at dawn. I looked around at the people all gathered to celebrate life – whether it is the body electric, or the way we can push beyond our limits, or how good it is to run with friends. I was alone, but I felt like part of something bigger than me. And though it wasn’t a gathered Church (many women ran in hijabs, actually) I felt Christ’s presence. I was moved to pray in a way that I’m often not in my routine or in the busyness of parenting during worship. I found myself praying for more times like these. I prayed for the health of each person, for God to use the time when I run to open my eyes or my heart or my hands. I prayed in thanksgiving for the beauty of dawn, and as I prayed, the first marathoner returned, escorted by a bicycle with headlight and by the cheers of those of us beginning our race.
Running the race was a lot of fun. My toe ached and I stopped to apply bandaids to blisters, but the 10k allowed time to look around, to enjoy the give-and-take of people running the same pace as me (they pass me, I pass them, rinse & repeat). The course took me along roads I often drive, as well as along the KK waterfront. Near the end of the race was the headquarters of the BCCM Church, the body that Eric and I were called here to serve. As I passed their gates I gave thanks for the many congregations worshipping this morning due to their guidance and care.
And now I am home. Sweaty & gross, with achy feet, but I arrived home in time to go to worship with Eric. Running with Christ got me where I needed to be, with time to spare. It is a blessed way to begin a day.