I hadn’t been on a school bus since my last fieldtrip while teaching in Arizona. It was cool Idaho morning with a slight breeze, with that smell in the air that reminded me of my first day of college. As we drove along the dirt roads of Oakley, passing adorable homes, barns, and acres of farmland, my stomach started to knot. This was it. This was the day I had been training for. This was the day I was set to accomplish my goal of running my first 10K. As we turned the final corner, my confidence sank. The described “hill” on the race map and by fellow runners on the bus was in fact a large, steep, rocky mountain. As we climbed, I could almost feel my lungs collapsing in, and my training along the beach in San Diego was going to do me no good compared to this thick, dry, mountain air.
There it was-- the starting line. As we anticipated the gun shoot to clear us to run, I sadly told myself, “There is no way. You have to walk this mountain. This race is now a 6.2 mile walk.” Seconds later, the gunshot went off and I was left in a trail of dust. I slowly began my up-hill climb with a few other participants. My watch quickly started beeping at me, alerting me that I was working above my heart rate level for so early in the race. I wanted to throw it off the side of the cliff. Of course I am working harder! I can hardly breathe, it’s hot, and I’m walking up a dirty and rocky mountain. I placed my hands on my hips as I slowly and defeatedly walked. After walking the slowest, hardest, and hottest mile, I looked up and saw it. There they were—Derek’s sweet aunt Tanette and sister Whitney. I thought, “Why aren’t they running ahead? They totally can and should!” They had turned around and were cheering, “You can do it! Come on!” It was right then I knew, I could get my confidence back. You see, they had run this race before. They knew the course; the rocky roads, the downward back switch, the long and straight flat road along a corn field.
From then on, the race became easier; I had a faster stride in my walks and runs because I had two people cheering and helping me along the way. We soon made it to the asphalt paved road and with ease, ran through town. When we turned the corner to the last straightaway to the finish line, we looked at each other and said, “Let’s run!” Soon enough, we heard cheering, clapping, and knew we were almost there. We were hot, tired, sore, and ready for our hot breakfast waiting for us in the park. Once we were closer, we saw all of our family at the finish line—they were waiting to welcome us across with congratulations. When we reached the line, we jumped for joy! We had done it! I had done it! The hugs, cheering, and love we got was so immense. These people had waited for us at this line. They knew we would make it. They cheered and yelled and hoorayed when we finished. They were proud.
This past Sunday, we had a lesson in church on trials. This scripture, in Doctrine & Covenants 100:12 reads, “Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end.” Life, much like my race, is a journey. At times, we will have hills and mountains to climb. Other times, we might be easily coasting on the smoothly paved road. No matter where we are on our journey, there will always be those we look to when it starts to get hard. There will be those who may have had a similar experience before, or those who are just there for you, cheering you on with a smile and warm hug. The thing to remember is that finish line—we will always get there. We will get there through these people. We will get there through the confidence and determination we have in ourselves. We will get there through the help of our Savior, who will never leave us alone. When our trials come to the point of the finish line, we will look back on our journey; full of rocky mountains and hills, dusty and dirty roads, and the hot, hot sun and think “I did it. I made it. I crossed this finish line”. Oh what a feeling that is—when the race is over, and we are finishers.