In my life I have run nearly 400 races, but today’s was different.  I stepped up to the starting line, sun becoming hot in the early morning, temperatures and anxiety rising.  The crowd was chatting excitably and lunging out their pre-race jitters.  I positioned myself a few rows back from the front, surrounded by some of what were sure to be some of the fastest finishers that day.  Animals, all of them.  By animals I mean the lions, tigers and bears we were about to race by in the Cleveland Metroparks zoo, where the course for the Running with a Mission 5K was located.  As the New Media Intern for The City Mission and a track and cross country team member at my college, I jumped on the chance to compete in a race where I could support the Mission and gauge where my summer training would put me in the pack.

This past fall after a frightening post-race black out and subsequent doctors’ offices and medical tests, I was diagnosed with a hyperthyroidism. The best option was to undergo a short radiation treatment and wait to see if my full health came back. Unfortunately, this meant light training and definitely no racing. Six months later, by the time I took my last round of blood tests, my thyroid levels had completely balanced out. The doctor told me that he had never seen anyone react as successfully without some sort of medication to accompany the radiation. Through the prayers of my family and friends I had been healed.

Running with a Mission was a blast.  Somehow, Moondog was the wildest animal on the course, and intermittent fans and exotic birds cheered us on through the zoo. It was one of the most energetic and well-organized races I had ever run, but these observations were not the most important parts of the day.

 

I finished, still standing, with my fastest time since high school and first in my age group.  These are three things that last fall I never thought I would accomplish.  Before the race I was nervous because it was about to be my first real distance competition since passing out.  However, instead of feeling tired at the finish, I felt energized.  When I crossed the line I was overwhelmed by the other participants and volunteers who gave their time, energy, and money to support the incredible work The City Mission is doing to assist Cleveland’s homeless.  Nearly $100,000 in in-kind and monetary donations was raised from this single event, money joyfully given and joyfully used to transform lives.

Our God is a God of renewal.  He renewed my health, and every day I am a witness to how He is renewing the lives of clients at the Mission.  I am grateful for the three months I will be spending at The City Mission, learning not only work skills, but about people and how the Lord’s love is able to flow through anyone who is willing to be used for His glory.

 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;  they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
– Isaiah 40:29:31

By Caroline Kimpel

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