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Archive for April, 2010

The Power of Community

Today, Patty and I had the joy of witnessing the power of community first hand.  We got up early this morning to go to breakfast with a few of our friends.  The reason we would get up so early on a Saturday is important.  Our friend Andrew celebrates his fifth year of sobriety today and we were blessed that he wanted to include us in his celebration.

As breakfast was winding down the conversation turned a bit more serious.  Andrew told us that, on his sobriety birthdays, he will call the people who have been important to him over the last year and thank them for helping him in his journey; a truly beautiful tradition of acknowledging the most important people in his life.  Since we were at breakfast with him, he decided to tell the group there rather than calling us.  Andrew proceeded to thank everyone present for the encouragement given him over the past year. He told us how much we had meant to him and how everyone there had, in one way or another, encouraged him to become a better person.  As Andrew went on, all of us proceeded to tear up and some even began to cry because we all knew how special of a moment it truly was. It was one of those rare moments in life where you get to see the true fruits of a friendship.

As he talked, I thought to myself, “community is an unbelievably powerful thing.”  Just like Andrew could not maintain his health without a strong community around him, none of us can become better people without people around us to pick us up and encourage us when we are down, or celebrate with us when we are up.  I wonder if more marriages would survive, more children would realize their dreams, more people would take care each other, and more conflicts could be avoided if we focused on the importance of our communities over the desires of our individual selves?  I wonder if that is not where the true redemptive power of the cross lies.  People were meant to live in communities and it was proven to us today.

To Andrew: Thank you for letting us celebrate with you today. I hope you know how proud of you Patty and I are and how honored and humbled we are that we were able to contribute to your success in any way.  You have proven a true friend and here is to many more years of your health and dreams.  Celebrate like there is no tomorrow! You’ve earned it!

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We woke up at 5:00 this morning with excited jitters in our tummies in anticipation of reaching the goal we set for ourselves and have been training for for the last three months. We dressed in our running gear (complete with number bibs and shoe chips) for our first half marathon. We ate oatmeal and toast that Patty’s mom was kind enough to wake up and cook for us. We headed out at about 5:50 for downtown St. Louis, not really sure where to park, or even exactly where the start line was. But with 16,000 participants and even more spectators all headed to the same place we were, it wasn’t too hard to find.

Us at 5:30 am before we left for the race.

The beginning of the race was unlike anything either of us had ever experienced. They had designated areas for people planning to run at certain paces, with the really competitive folks in the front and the walkers in the back. The race officially started at 7:00 am, with the sun about to peak over the Arch. As we saw people starting to take off from the middle of the humongous crowd, it was like a beautiful sea of rainbow t-shirts headed up over the very first hill. It took us about 10 minutes to actually cross the starting line, because there were literally that many people lined up. Once we actually got started with the race, we were both amazed by how energizing it is to run with so many other people. The first 6 miles of the run went out to the Anheuser Busch brewery and back (we were bummed that they don’t keep any Clydesdale’s there).

We then went up Olive st. past SLU, over to Forest Park Blvd, and turned around at WashU’s medical building. We both felt fine through about mile 10, but having only run up to 10 miles in training, we were in new territory after that. On mile 11, we heard a bull horn behind us yelling for people to clear the way for the first full marathoner who was on his way back on his mile 24 (at about a 5:50 mile pace…ridiculous). He came with his own ambulance leading the way followed by a brand new black camaro with a digital clock on top driving in front of him so that he could see his time. We were both pretty moved that all of the half marathoners he was passing, though exhausted themselves, cheered and clapped for him as he passed us all like we were standing still. The next two miles were pretty torturous for us, but we kept going because we knew we were almost done and we had worked really hard for it since January. It seemed like the mile markers kept getting farther and farther apart. But we came around the last corner where the finish line was, and about 100-200 yards from the finish line, Patty couldn’t hold it in anymore and spewed up what was left of her breakfast. After about a 30 second puke break, we finished the rest of the race feeling pretty good about ourselves :).

We’re both really glad we decided to sign up for our race, and look forward to maybe signing up for another one sometime in the near future. We hope you enjoyed reading a play by play of our day, and we also hope this finds you having a great day yourself! Thanks for reading!

The Thompsons

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