Today I ran my fifth Chevron Houston Marathon. I have been a runner off and on for the past 12 years and have done several different types of events … marathons, half marathons, 10Ks, 5ks and relays. But in all those years, today was the first time I ever cried when I crossed the finish line. I didn’t cry because I had had my best marathon finish ever, finally achieving that long coveted sub-5 hour marathon with a 4:56:17 finish. I didn’t cry because I had bettered my previous year’s marathon finish by close to 21 minutes. Rather, I cried because this was the first race I had run for something other than my own personal achievement and satisfaction. This year I ran for a reason … and that reason was the Star of Hope Mission.
For the first time Star of Hope was a Chevron Houston Marathon Official Charity, and I, along with 25 other runners, chose to raise money and build awareness for this incredible organization through this race. I proudly wore my red Run for a Reason HERO running cap and on my back I wore the special race bib bearing the name: Star of Hope Mission.
Vivian Winslow and David Bucklew, Manager of Program Services II, Men's Development Center, Star of Hope Mission.
Like all my previous marathons, I arrived at the start line nursing an injury. This time a strain had flared up in my left Achilles tendon and calf the Monday before the marathon. While the pain was not unbearable, it created a nagging doubt that I could make it through the next 26.2 miles.
My public goal was simply to improve my time from the previous year. Inwardly, however, I was hoping for better … to break that 5 hour barrier. I had taken a few measures during my training to improve my time, but I hadn’t done a lot more than my usual marathon training. Plus, with the pain in my ankle and calf, I was concerned that I would even finish, let alone have a personal record.
However, as I approached the start line I asked Jesus to be by my side for the next 5 plus hours and carry me when needed. He did that and so much more!
Over the course of the next 26.2 miles I felt pain, hunger, weariness and thirst. In past races I had given into those feelings … slowing my pace somewhere between miles 12 and 18 and just getting through the last 8 miles. However, this year was different. Whenever I felt like giving in to those physical inconveniences, I remembered why and for whom I was running … the homeless men, women and children at the Star of Hope Mission.
I knew that the pain I was experiencing was nothing compared to the pain that the victims of domestic violence or human trafficking feel at the hands of their abusers. I knew that the hunger I felt along the way paled when compared to the pangs of hunger felt by children who arrive at Star of Hope after having lived in cars with their mothers for days at a time. I knew that the weariness I felt was a fraction of the weariness felt by the homeless seeking shelter for the night. And I knew that the thirst I felt could not compare to the spiritual thirst felt by the lost and the broken.
There were times early in the race when I realized I was running faster than I should have been running. Each time, I intentionally tried to slow myself down so that I would have enough left in the tank to get me to the finish line. And each time I tried to slow down, I felt a surge of energy … a gentle nudge from behind propelling me forward and reminding me of why I was running. At those times I would check my watch, and not only had I not slowed my pace, I had increased it by 1-2 seconds per mile! The biggest surge of energy came at mile 15.5 when I saw the Star of Hope sign at the Star of Hope Hoopla Station. It was an absolutely amazing sight!
It was not until mile 24 that I finally succumbed to the hills on Allen Parkway dropping my pace 10-11 seconds per mile from there to the finish line. But by then, I knew that I had crushed my best marathon finish time, and I was going to come in well under 5 hours. I also knew that I had not run this marathon alone.
I thank God for giving me that personal record finish time. But more importantly, I give thanks to God because today I ran for a reason much greater than myself. Today I ran for the Star of Hope Mission!
Thank you so much to those who have supported my fundraising effort. Your support was another tremendous motivator during the run. Donations can still be made to Star of Hope through February 20, 2015 on my Run for a Reason profile page: Vivian Winslow.
Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communications
Star of Hope Mission
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. - Hebrews 12:1
But those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. - Isaiah 40:31 NIV