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Grit to the Finish Line

The eyes looking at me above the surgical mask were reassuring. “Your baby girl is strong. She’s going to be just fine.” Those are the last words I remember hearing before her emergency caesarean birth. This was my daughter Alyse’s tiny beginnings—arriving two months early.

I’ve watched her grow and change throughout her seasons of life. And I’ve speculated that her early birth may have developed her abilities to persevere.

In her busy life with two kids and a demanding career, she perseveres to stay healthy too—so she runs, bikes, and swims. She added marathons to her resume, but last Sunday, she upped her game by attempting a Half Ironman—swimming the equivalent of 80 laps in the pool (but in a river wearing a wetsuit), then quickly changing and riding 56 miles on her bike. The race was completed with a 13-mile run to the finish line.

My husband installed the Ironman tracker phone app so we could follow her progress mile by mile. But it was 70 miles to the finish —an impossibility in my brain.

I wonder how Alyse is feeling as I see the little red dot on the map that represents her spot along the racecourse. I keep looking at my watch and tell myself, “You can make it sweet girl.”

Now it’s six hours since she started; she’s running in the heat of the day. I’m guessing this is when grit gets you through. I pray again.

Then I started praying for those I know living with gritty situations. There’s Kathleen—recently diagnosed with breast cancer, awaiting surgery and chemo, and Amy—months into her brutal fight with breast cancer.

Then there’s Oliver in a cancer treatment trial. I pray for Traceylee living years now with MECFS—a debilitating autoimmune disorder. Debi is in intensive care following a double lung transplant—she’d love to breathe freely again. These precious friends know what grit feels like. It’s a whole different kind of race.

My phone buzzes with a text message: Alyse’s husband sent me a video of her running to the finish line. I hear her name called and the crowd cheering for the runners. And I’m crying because she’s met another goal, persevering yet again.

It’s the end of the Half Ironman, but it’s just another beginning for a young woman who sees that when life’s a race, you might as well run. And for my friends facing the hardest of life’s challenges, may your determination, courage, and grit get you to a healthy finish line—I’ll be praying.


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