The Wall :: Part 2

Ashley Taylor

The experience of running the Los Angeles Marathon has been one of the most defining experiences of my life.

I learned that independence is not conducive to success and that if I really wanted to finish, I was going to have to break down and allow my sorority sisters, the girls who mean the world to me, to share in my pain, struggles, victories and experience with me. Even more, I was overwhelmed by how God was with me holding my hand every step of the way.

The race itself was fun! I had a great cardio mix in my iPod and took a reasonable pace. Mile 15 was my first personal accomplishment because after that, every step I took was further than I had ever run before. I started hurting at mile 17, either my feet or knees went first, I don’t even remember. At mile 18 one of my friends was waiting with a huge blue and gold sign cheering me on, which was absolutely perfect timing.

I hit my wall at mile 24. My body HURT.

As I ran past a man with Isaiah 40 (something to the effect of “God will renew your strength”) on the back of his shirt, I tapped his shoulder and asked him to pray for me. He was enthusiastic to do so, but never did I EVER think I would ask a stranger to pray for me. I was reminded of all my sisters who I knew had my back and would be doing the same and smiled— and was encouraged to keep going.

When I finished and regained enough motor coordination to check my phone, eight out of the 10 messages waiting, were from my sisters, with many more calls from them to come later. As much as going into this run I didn’t realize what a team effort it would be, I could not have done it without them. They drove me around, listened to me process, checked up on my eating, served as emergency contacts, and rejoiced in my triumphs with me. It’s really just a snapshot of how integral my sorority sisters are to my life.

I’d been at my wall, hit my limit, cried countless tears (which is not my normal response to anything), and almost dropped out entirely. I carried on by God’s grace and because of His prompting. I don’t know why I would think that running a marathon would be a worthwhile investment of time, but God’s faithfulness through training and the race itself was tangible and indescribable. It was manifested in the people around me and the race itself, which was literally the application of the physical conditioning and mental training I had been through. It was acknowledging that I might not make it, but refusing to accept that and power through.

I was praying to God in the midst of my body, mind, and soul. And that experience made it worth everything. The first question I always get asked is what my time was, but instead of answering I smile and say that the goal was to finish without stopping or walking, which by God’s grace and my girlfriends’ support—I did. And despite becoming acutely aware of my insufficiency, persevering through to the finish line, fueled by adrenaline and hope, overwhelmed me with the reality of God, His faithfulness, and gave me more confidence in myself than anything else ever has.

Ashley is a senior biological anthropology major at UCLA. She is the wellness chair of Alpha Delta Chi and the safety officer on the Bruin Waterski Team. She loves running and wakeboarding, and is passionate about encouraging women in confronting and overcoming eating disorders.

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