Tuesday, August 31, 2010

15 in 15 Run - Day 15 (Aug 31) Charlottesville to Lynchburg (Leg 3)

Isaiah 40:31 For those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings as eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.

Last night, with the help of the Toneys, we mapped out a new course to run into Lynchburg, thereby avoiding Rt. 29 altogether. We would start in Amherst, VA and run the back roads into Lynchburg. Donnie Toney was going to run with me, his goal to do the whole distance if he could, otherwise he would hang in there as long as possible. I was ready to run, but so tired. I knew that having Donnie run with me would be the shot in the arm I needed to make this the best run yet.

Also joining us, additional angels that God has placed in my life, were Pastor Karen and Reba. They got up really early in order to make the 3 hr trip to be with us the whole day. There was a real spirit surrounding me as we joined hands to pray - I was being renewed and lifted up by the support of others. Then we were off! I felt as though I was being pulled toward the finish line with wings of eagles guiding my feet. Donnie and I talked and ran, and I knew we were going out faster than normal. Our mile splits for the first 5 miles were: 10:39, 10:38, 11:00, 11:04, 11:39. The course was very hilly, but there were long stretches of down hill to counteract the long stretches of up. I ran aggressively on the downs and so our mile splits showed when the mile was mostly up or mostly down: Miles 6-10 were 10:21, 10:52, 10:55, 12:04, 9:33!

The countryside was beautiful! We were surrounded by mountains, and I could only imagine the glory of the autumn leaves in another month. Each stop we made, Reba would be there holding up her bright pink sign and Pastor Karen would be cheering me on. Lindsey was ever faithful with putting ice in my water, getting me sports beans or whatever else I needed.Kendra Toney also arrived to help with the rest of the run.  Miles 11-13 splits were: 11:09, 11:19, 10:53.

We ran down a couple miles to Route 130. The next 3 miles were difficult as we were running on the shoulder of a busier highway. The sun was out in full force and there was no shade. Plus with the traffic we were needing to run single file.  Still our splits from mile 14-17 were pretty good:  10:21, 10:08, 10:12, 10:08. When we were going up the hills, Donnie was stronger. In fact I think he was helping to pull me up the hills. On the down hills I was able to really take off. After several miles of this, Donnie had a cramp on one of the downhills. But he was able to persist and keep running until another cramp occured at mile 17. At this point, he decided to take a break and would join me as I went into Lynchburg.

Now I was on River Road, and the final stretch before going across the bridge into Lynchburg. The road was winding and up and down. At mile 20, I was starting to have an issue with cramping myself - mine was in my side, so I was able to keep running, but had to keep pushing the spot to keep it from cramping. At about mile 21, ABC news showed up to interview me. My crew warned me, so I tried to put on my best form and ran down to meet them at a pretty good clip. Then, as I continued on the run, they followed along filming my feet! I waiting to see what they actually show on the news. Now I looked at my watch and realized that I could have my fastest time of the entire 15 days. I tried to keep my pace up as I neared the 5th St. bridge, but it was mostly uphill and my side was really hurting. Splits from 18-22: 10:11, 10:37, 10:23, 11:05,  9:47.

Now all that was left to cross the bridge and climb the last hills to Fort Hill United Methodist Church. Donnie joined me and we started across the bridge. I was almost done. The final climb was almost done. After a mile and a half Donnie had another leg cramp. I kept going and hit the 26.2 mile mark at about 4:42. But I wasn't there yet! Boy, it was hard to keep running after that point. I kept looking for everyone who was going to walk with me to the finish, but they seemed to be nowhere in sight. Finally, there they were waiting for me - Steve and Lindsey, Pastor Karen and Reba. At 26.92 we ran into the parking lot of the church and up the steps "Rocky" style. Then big hugs and tears all around!

It has been an amazing journey. God definitely sustained me every step of the way. Instead of falling apart or having an injury, he kept me strong and protected me. I felt like the Israelites as Moses led them through the wilderness. Even though the journey was long and hard, God promised that their clothes would last and their shoes would never wear out. For 400 miles, I never got a blister. That had to be from God.

As I spoke at Fort Hill, I explained the reason for my run. In a scene from the movie, Eric Liddell was trying to explain to his sister why he wanted to run in the olympics. He said, "God made me for a purpose - for China." Well I believe that God made me for a purpose - to reach out to the poor and homeless and to inspire others to never give up, to overcome all obstacles. Then Eric said, "but he also made me fast (well, I'm not fast, but God gave me the ability to run long distances without injury - to be focused and to keep going even when the going gets tough). He then said, "when I run I feel God's pleasure." and that's how I feel. When I run on the trails in the mountains it's my chance to get away, to commune with God, to be still and hear him speak to me. And so I run where God leads me.

Never let doubt keep you from taking a step of faith. Never give up. For with God all things are possible. We can change, God can transform our lives and take us on a new journey of faith. We merely have to believe and be willing to listen. And God will be with you every step of the way.

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.


  1. Just one word -TERRIFIC! - God bless you.


  2. Wonderful write up SuSu. I hope you are resting now. You are truly an inspiration!

  3. Wow, SuSu, what a pace for your final day! I'm totally amazed. And those are two beautiful biblical quotes.

    Louise from WW