You might remember that my girlfriend completed her first half marathon last December.
There is another one that we will run in tomorrow.
We haven't been as consistent in our training this time as were last year so we needed to do a long run last weekend to see where we were physically.
Our brother Sergio is also running in the race tomorrow.
God brought Sergio into our lives the first month we lived in Brasil 10 years ago. He's a real estate agent and he helped us get our first apartment. He also helped us with the legal part of getting our first house.
Over the years he and his family have become our great friends. We've shared meals together, trips together and, most importantly, studied the Bible together. I was blessed to have been asked by Sergio to share in his baptism a few years ago. He is a very encouraging brother and a great husband and dad.
He's also a runner. He, in fact, has taught me more about the joy of running than any other person in my life.
I've always been a casual runner but my running has increased since we moved to Brasil. Much of it has to do with Sergio.
He runs with joy and he runs for the Lord.
When I tried to complete my first marathon in 2005 he ran every step of the way with me. He had already completed 10 marathons before that one. He did not train for that one like he should have and so I thought that as I struggled he struggled. When I needed to stop and rest he stopped and rested. He was super patient and calm with me the entire time.
I was unable to complete that first marathon. I had to stop at the 36th km. He stopped with me and pulled out his cell phone. Did I mention that he answered a business call at the 21st km of the race and set up an appointment to show an apartment later that day? Anyway, when I had to quit he called his wife and my girlfriend to tell them where to pick us (I thought) up. He then asked me, for the 10th time, if I was okay. Even looking into my eyes to make sure I was okay. Feeling that I was good to wait for our wives by myself he said, "Okay, you wait here. I'm going to finish the race now."
The whole time I thought he was going so slow because he, like me, hadn't trained properly and was hurting when, in fact, he was just staying by my side and carrying me km after km. I knew it before but it was at that moment that God really showed me just how special this brother is. He had stayed the whole time to encourage me. He put me ahead of him.
Because of me he was the last runner to cross the finish line. He had an ambulance behind him with sirens blaring. If that was me I would have been a little embarrassed or would have tried to explain that I was helping a slow/hurting friend and that's why I was in last place. My pride would have taken over.
What did Sergio do? He smiled and waved at everyone as he soaked in the ambulance escort. Pure joy as he runs.
I love to train with Sergio. Our schedules don't allow it as much as we'd like but it's always a pleasure to run with him.
Last week he called and wanted to run with us on our long run. I told my girlfriend how much of a blessing it would be for her to run with him.
So at 6:30 last Saturday morning the three of us met at a mall to run around the sidewalk that enclosed the mall. It's almost a mile loop.
Sergio showed up with granola bars and Gatorade for everyone. That's Sergio.
We took off and ran 11 laps. We ran for almost 2 hours. We talked the entire time. We, as usual, talked about kids, sports, God and our relationship with Him, business stuff and life in general. We also talked about how last Saturday was his dad and my grandmother's birthday. They had a 10 year difference in age and died within 4 months of each other. Sergio is close to my parents and so that parent/grandparent connection makes our family connection even more special.
We were also blessed with Sergio praying. Before and/or after you run with Sergio he bear hugs whoever is around him and prays to God and thanks Him for our run, our day and the ability to run.
While we ran he told my girlfriend how thin she looked because she is a runner now. How she did, "FANTASTIC!!" with her training run and how her calves are just pure muscle now because of her running. Like I said, he is 100% encouragement. Nothing negative ever comes out of his mouth.
He took some pictures last week so, as he said, people would believe that we actually ran at 6:30 in the morning.
Here are a couple before....
......and one after.
We are really blessed to have this guy in our lives.
And, by the way, Benay nailed her run last week. She actually ran faster than us on the last lap. I'd say she's ready for the race tomorrow.
It will be fun and something we won't ever forget.