In which I do something that feels amazing



I can’t run. But I ran anyway.

You’ve listened to me prattle on about this for a while now, I know. About how I felt ripped off when I ignored a prodding from God about the SheLoves Half Marathon. About how I decided to be fearless this year, to learn how to say “yes” to everything that I’ve always thought I was too weak, too fat, too silly, too tired, too embarrassed, too self-conscious, too “me” to do. About how I decided that this year, I won’t be on the sidelines, no, this year, awkward gait and extra forty pounds be damned, I will be running. I decided to run, not just for me, but for our girls at Mercy Ministries. I wanted to run because I believe in miracles and somehow, it made sense in my heart, I don’t know why.

I decided to run because this year, I wasn’t content to organize and plan, I wanted to sweat, to hurt, to be physically present, to hold each one of our brave and strong Mercy girls – residents, graduates, hopefuls, supporters – in my heart and pump my blood faster, push my body harder, do something I was so afraid I to do because I was so afraid of failing again.

It was awful.

I hate running. Like, hate hate hate hate hate it. If my sister had a loonie for every time I showed up at the track, grumpy and tired, with a plan to manipulate her into somehow agreeing to go get a glass of wine and an appy at Earl’s instead (“Come on! They won’t care if we’re in track clothes! It’s Monday night in Abbotsford! We’re mothers! They expect that sort of thing!”), she would be a wealthy woman. And for the record, she resisted me each and every time. (Except once. And that time, oh, we had fun. Totally worth it. But sshhh…don’t tell our husbands.)


Yes. Running. I don’t like it. I don’t understand you people that do like to run. But we ran and we ran – although my version of running likely requires the use of ironic air quotes around the word to properly convey the complete awkward visual of me “running” – but you get the idea. We ran in the rain and the snow and the sleet and the winter dark and the wind even though I gave her fits with my bad attitude and Angry Eyes, my protestations about wind and cold and foggy glasses. I registered for the run. I set up my little sponsorship page on the website. Thanks to all of you and a few others, we even raised more than $1500 for Mercy Ministries!

And as Race Day loomed, I looked for a reason to quit. I bargained with myself. I hadn’t actually managed to run 5K yet. I couldn’t do it on a flat surface, let alone a hilly park. Every walker would finish that race before me. It was ridiculous. I was ridiculous. This was ridiculous. Come on! It’s not like it matters. No one needs me to run a race. It’s a 5K, not a marathon, certainly not world peace, it doesn’t matter, I can quit, right?

But no. I couldn’t and I wouldn’t. I still don’t know why it felt like such a big deal, why it felt like a watershed moment for me, but it did. I felt like I was bumping up against every lie I’ve ever believed about myself.

We showed up on race day. I have no clue about these things, and I severely overdressed in heavy black yoga pants plus two t-shirts. I helped pack sack lunches from 7AM onward, and I didn’t drink any water. My friend, Sarah, showed up as a surprise to cheer me on – she runs half marathons once a year “just to keep in shape” – and I burst into tears at the sight of her, clearly I was slightly hysterical. I had a knot in my stomach and I tried to distract myself from my certain defeat by laughing too loud, flitting around, acting so fine.

We gathered at the start line. I’ve never run a race in my life, I was so nervous. And then the horn went off and we ran.

We ran. We ran.

I was running.

It was a gorgeous day in the park. We ran in the shadows of mountains, past derelict red barns, fields of wildflowers, arched by the spring blue sky of a perfect BC day. My sister encouraged me every step of the way, I had never ran in our training as much as I ran on that old path through the park, two minutes of straight running felt like an eternity. We were almost entirely alone – the last of the runners, but just ahead of the walkers. But I ran. We walked when we needed to walk. I was boiling hot. But I ran. Mercy graduates stood on the path with big signs, with cups of water, and I wanted to cry at the sight of them, I wanted to hold them and say, thank you for letting me do this, thank you for teaching me just a bit about courage and guts and miracles. My sister and I talked about other stuff, anything to take my mind off the fact that I was making my body do something I had never made it do before. Around the 4KM mark, I was hit with a bad headache – an “I-haven’t-drank-anything-but-coffee-in-12-hours-and-I’m-sweltering-in-heavy-black-clothes-on-a-hot-sunny-day-what-the-hell-were-you-thinking-woman” kind of headache. One of my little physical quirks is that I get sick to my stomach when I have a headache and this was no exception, I was miserable. My sister had her second wind, I could tell she wanted to run, but she stayed with me, she matched her pace to my shuffle, she did not leave me.

We walked and hobbled through the fourth kilometre, I swore profusely as we wound our way up the final incline, she hooked her elbow around mine, half-dragged me up the dusty hillside path. We hit the final 100 metres and an impossibly cheery race attendant kept encouraging us to “spring to the finish” and I nearly kicked her in the shins. I was dripping wet, hot, miserable, sore, tired and my head hurt.

But we rounded the final bend, and I saw a finish line. And I swear to you, my heart leaped up into my throat, and I couldn’t see for the tears in my eyes. My sister turned to me , she was already running, her eyes full of tears for me, she held out her hand, I grabbed on, and we ran, we ran, we ran those last 100 M across my first finish line. I cried and cried like I had just finished a marathon, instead of a measly 5K run. I didn’t even check my time, I bet it was close to 55 minutes, no joke, I was just relieved I’d beaten the walkers. I had a drink of water and promptly went over to to the bushes and threw up everywhere. No one laughed at me, they celebrated for me. My mother had pushed my niece in a stroller that entire path with her friend, they made it over the line, we laughed and hugged all over again. I laid in the grass and moaned with misery. Every one hugged and danced like we’d completed the Tour de France, they were all so happy for me, I made me realise, most of us, we want to cheer each other on, we really do.

I still hate running. But I love finishing.

I hate the process of growing and changing and doing something new and hard. But I love this moment, sitting on my back deck, listening to the birds sing and the creek run by my house, hardly able to feel my legs, feet aching, but feeling so satisfied, so real, so human, this knowing that I was so scared of this, so sure I couldn’t do it, and now, it’s done. It’s done.

It was amazing.


  • Emily Wierenga

    oh yayy friend! what a glorious victory! i love that picture of you :) there is triumph in your face!

  • Charlotte

    This is a beautiful story. Thank you.

  • Glenda Childers

    Ah … you did it.

  • Tara Pohlkotte

    wahoooo! amazing. amazing. amazing. so proud of you.

  • Mme Zalopha

    Congratulations! You did it! I do believe you when you say you “hate hate hate hate hate” running. However, you should know that if find yourself four or five days from now feeling an odd sort of active discontent, it may be your body telling you it kinda sorta does like running.

  • Jenn

    You are awesome. The end.

    I want to throw up just thinking about running 5k if it makes you feel better. :)

  • Rebecca Graham

    You came to mind many times throughout the day Sarah! You are amazing, you inspire me and I love you!! I used to think that we past and present residents were “Mercy Sisters”, which we are, but I’ve also realised that together, Mercy residents AND staff are family! I’m proud to be a part of the Mercy family with you!!

    Much love,
    Rebecca Graham
    a.k.a. R.G!! (lol)

  • Sandy

    So, will you be running today? :)

  • Bethany Bassett

    Oh you inspirational you! I hate hate hate hate hate running too, and my husband rather than my sister is the one dragging me to the track (which might not be counteractive to the longevity of our marriage, come to think of it), but you pushing through the awfulness to finish a 5K gives me hope that I’ll be able to do the same. Plus, you trained in sleet?! I guess my pansy-ass “Too bad, it’s drizzling!” excuse isn’t going to fly any more.

  • Janet Oberholtzer

    I am one of those crazy people who runs a lot and though I still have days when I hate it and have to force myself to get out there… one key thing that helps me like running is that I don’t run continually… I run/walk. I run 3 minutes/walk 1 minute during every run I do (training or race) and I will do that at my first full post-accident marathon this coming Sunday. (yikes!) 
    I also love the feeling of accomplishment, the knowing that I’m doing something good for my body and the finishing!
    If interested, here’s the program I do…

  • Ed_Cyzewski

    Growth is rarely pleasant. Stepping out in courage rarely feels good. but then there’s that moment where we land, and that’s just the beginning of the benefits. I’m sure in the days and months to come, you’ll draw more courage and inspiration from that race than you would have guessed. 

    I’ve been in a season of taking some big leaps, and I’ve been drawing courage from the ways God provided on my last leaps. Just when I started to get overwhelmed, a friend encouraged me and even offered to help in some very material ways. And now I’m seeing some hope: real evidence that God is going to catch me after this leap. 

  • Elizabeth

    Well done. 

     About 2 and 1/2 years ago I was a person who couldn’t run or exercise.  I was also a little over-weight.  So I had a strong talk to myself and decided to do something about it.  I started with aerobics and went onto Couch to 5K.  I ran my first 5K last year.  This year my running is on hold due to a dodgy heart which needs looking at BUT if I am given the OK I will be back to running.  I used to hate it with a passion but there was something great about running in beautiful weather listening to music.  I hope to be back there again very soon.  And if I don’t get clearance from my Cardiologist I will be learning to Power walk instead. 😉

    You should be so proud as you ran in all weathers, I am a fair-weather runner.

    So a big congratulations to you for starting and finishing.  I would say ‘don’t give up’, I look forward to hearing about your 10k next.

  • Ashleigh Baker

    Perseverance. It is quite powerful, isn’t it? There is a bit of glory in the thinking that you can’t and knowing that you did. So proud of you, friend.

  • Mizmelly

    woooo hooooo! i know that feeling so well… and can i tell you a secret??? it gets easier…. wish me luck for my 10km in 2 weeks time… eeeeekkkk!!!

  • Kelly @ Love Well


    So proud of you. 

    I think it’s that thrill of finishing that gets me through many hard things. Not running, mind you. But cleaning the house. Doing the laundry. Writing a blog post. Triumph is motivating. 

  • Heretic Husband


    Now I need a nap, because all this reading about running made me tired. :(

  • Erin

    Oh, I understand entirely!!!!  The idea of doing something hard just to prove to yourself that you can. ” About how I decided to be fearless this year, to
    learn how to say “yes” to everything that I’ve always thought I was too
    weak, too fat, too silly, too tired, too embarrassed, too
    self-conscious, too “me” to do.”  Yes.  This is me.  The past few years I have tried to find one hard thing to do each year.  First a 5k, then the Breast Cancer 3 Day, then having a baby without medication. All my life, I’ve been the kid that was afraid of the ball, you know?  But  I’m learning to trust my body, trust myself more and more.  To get out of my own way and surprise myself by what I can do.  And I find that these lessons are translating also into other areas – I’m starting to trust my own voice, too.

  • louise

    So wonderful…make me cry reading it. Well done you!

  • Julie Beader

    Incredible. Thanks so much for posting and sharing your struggle with such inspirational beauty. I have long wanted to do a 5k (just BECAUSE I’ve always thought I couldn’t) and went so far as to buy a good pair of running shoes last year. You, my friend, have inspired me to do this thing already. I think I shall. (Hold me to it, will you? :-)

  • Julie Shreve

    “Running isn’t about medals or personal records, it’s about taking your power back.”
    I’m a fellow “hate, hate, hate running” girl.  Two weeks ago I ran a half marathon.  I had all of the same feelings.  The best ones, though, were the ones after crossing the finish line.  It was intoxicating.  Congrats.  You should be proud.  You looked fear in the face and said, “Not this time.”  You win.  It’s all about the daily victories.  Way to go!!!

  • Abigail Kampman

    So proud of you!  Yes, the finish is the most memorable and satisfying- reminds me of labor 😉  Except I love running and my labors have been pretty good, but I think both are far more mental than people give them credit for.  Believe, persevere, accomplish, rejoice :)

    Love you.  So much.

  • Lebessey

    Yeah for you Sarah!!   You’re a winner!

  • To Think Is To Create

    I hate running too, so I’m sitting here SUPER impressed. :) Good on ya! <3

  • HopefulLeigh

    I am so proud of you, friend. And as someone who hates running, I’m also in awe of you.

  • Leanne Penny

    proud, so want to join the running ranks, yet I’m so nervous and commitaphobic with my exercise… So, kudos to you for sticking with it!  Runners always go down in my book as rock stars. 

  • Hilary

    Yay for you!! :)

  • Jenn

    I know all about that “hate hate hate… running” thing I have it too, but this is an incredible story and journey that you’ve shared a small piece of here with us and I say Thanks!

  • LisaMarie

    So glad you posted this.  I am running a 5k on June 2 with my adopted daughter.  I’m hoping that the two of us running this race together will help our bond. However,  Right now my hips hurt from running two days ago and I have to do more today.  You are right, though, the challenge helps us women  wake up and feel a bit more alive. 

  • Dahobbs

    Very Proud of you for getting out of your comfort zone and running for yourself and for the girls at Mercy Ministries.You and Amanda did it,  Love You

  • Dahobbs

    Very Proud of you for getting out of your comfort zone and running for yourself and for the girls at Mercy Ministries.You and Amanda did it,  Love You

  • Heather

    This made me cry. I felt your grumblings, your ache, your triumph, and your gratitude. Gorgeous!

  • pastordt

    Oh honey, you have my sincere admiration. I could never, ever have done it. I’m feeling just SO proud of the fact that I take a 30 minute walk about 6 days a week. Running?? Are you KIDDING ME? You’re a champeen in my book, Sarah. Yes, you are.

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  • Stephanie

    So proud of you, Sarah! Thanks for being an inspiration to all of us.

    Do you think you’ll ever run in a 5K again or was that a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience? 😉

  • Teri

    Awesome, Sarah girl. It’s been too long since I’ve done a 5K–this is inspiring. It also reminds me just a tad of The Office episode ( American version) in which Michael Scott eats Alfredo pasta before a race to “carbo-load” and then hurls afterward. just a bit. :) but your reason for runnIng was so beautiful by comparison.