Finding God

The summer of 2019, I decided that I would start running long distances to keep in shape. I started with three miles a day and made it my mission to keep that goal intact. I never missed a day and I began to run four miles a day, then five miles a day, and by the end of the summer I was running seven miles every day. The people in the neighborhood began to be familiar with me and would always say hello. If I was going on a walk with my mom, they would even ask, “Why aren’t you running?”

And I would simply say, “I already ran today!” This was my new hobby and numerous people told me to join the cross country team, which is exactly what I did at the start of my freshman year. Cross country is a sport all about running the 5K, which is 3.1 miles in length. The whole goal is to shorten your personal time, also known as your PR. My first race, I ran the 5K in twenty-four minutes and as the season would continue into the fall, I would make leaps of progress and PR as much as over a minute in some races.

Easton Vecchio was another one of the runners on the team and he told me, “Coach Magnuson will help you get whatever time you want, but you have to be willing to put in the work.”

“How does that work?”

“You just have to tell her where you want to be and she’ll train you for it.”

A big part of me wanted to run the 5K in under 20 minutes, which would be really fantastic to do as a freshman. I had worked so hard all summer and I was falling in love with the sport, so this was one of the biggest goals of my life at the moment. Eventually, the final race of the season had come and this was supposedly going to be my last attempt for the year. I had narrowed my time down to twenty minutes and forty-eight seconds so I would at least need to get a forty-nine second PR. Coach Magnuson had told me,

“Just go for it today and whatever happens, happens.”

“Okay, I feel pretty good but it is a hot day so I’m not sure.”

“Just finish on empty and you’ll do great!”

I accepted the challenge, but unfortunately that race wasn’t the one and I ended the season with a time of twenty minutes and thirty-four seconds.

Coach Magnuson did offer to the very committed team members, “There will be one final racing opportunity for those of you who want to go run in Arizona. This will be fun for the team and this will be the 7th time we’ve done this. And, Emil, if you want to break twenty, then this is the best option that you have.”

“Yeah, I’ll go if some other people will go!” I said.

And just like that, some of my soon to be closest friends were packing to go to Arizona. While I was packing, I noticed this bracelet that I had in my room, that said “Jesus Is My Savior” on it. I thought that I might as well take it, since that’s what our school represents. Before I went to Arizona, I knew about God, but I hadn’t decided to follow Him with my whole heart. He was just kind of there. We stayed in Arizona for a couple days and then the race came. Before we left our hotel room, I decided to put on the bracelet and was going to wear it for the race.

When the race started, I gave it my all because the goal was to break twenty minutes. They had timers at each mile, which allowed the runners to easily track their pace which would help determine if they would achieve their goals. Me and my friend crossed the first mile marker at six minutes exactly, which was already a PR (personal record) for the mile for me. Around half of a mile later, I was starting to get irritated with the bracelet because the constant motion of moving your arm back and forth caused the bracelet to move up and down my arm. I thought that I could possibly take it off and throw it to one of my coaches because they would be watching from the side lines. This was the moment I heard God talk to me for the very first time.

He said, “If you run the race with me, you will get nineteen minutes and forty-eight seconds.”

I then decided that I might as well finish the rest of the race with the bracelet on and see what happens. I had the distinct number of 19:48 in my head and that’s what I was going for. I was feeling tired between mile two and three, but I knew this was the final push.

The race ended the same way it started. There was a really long light brown and packed down dirt stretch about one hundred meters long. One would have to run through it quickly at the beginning of the race and right after finishing running the flat stretch, there was a deep dip that was a little bit muddy. As I approached the same spot of the race where I began, I traveled through the dip again and I was hopeful but nervous. To my left and to my right, I could hear roars of hundreds of people yelling and cheering for the runners. I noticed that I passed everybody and was on the final stretch by myself. Step by step, as I got closer to the finish line, I looked up at the tall pillars which were holding a timer in the middle above the line. As I was running for it, my eyes were only focused on the timer and I was amazed.

It was counting up, “19:40, 19:41, 19:42, 19:43.”

It kept counting up as I kept running and eventually I couldn’t see the timer anymore because I was under it, however, the last number that I saw was 19:47. It was all happening so fast and I think God predicted the future.

Of course, I wanted to wait and see if He did when they got official times out so we waited for the next day. Our coach told us, “They released the times! Here’s the website.”

We all immediately hopped on our phones to see our times, and sure enough, my time was nineteen minutes and forty-eight seconds, exactly. This shook up my whole life and is what made me decide to follow God with all of my heart because he helped me finish that race.

Written by: Emil Naranjo for a class blog assignment. 2021.

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High School English Teacher-Class Assignments

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Petra Mitchell

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High School English Teacher-Class Assignments

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