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The Reason I Run – Samantha VanHeuveln

As I look back at my life, I realize that so much of my it has been shaped by running.

  1. I have run in at least 14 different states (the only reasons I have even been to any other states are also tied to running).
  2. I met my husband on my high school track team.
  3. He proposed to me on a run.
  4. I met people that have become my lifelong friends.
  5. I have received many honors and awards.
  6. I have met Olympians.
  7. I have experienced aches and pains, some much worse than others.
  8. I have known the crushing blow of losing by inches.
  9. I have witnessed the extraordinary miracles of God.

Sometimes I question why I do it, but I never quit; it is a way of life, a deep and enduring love of running that started many years ago…

The summer between 7th and 8th grade my family discovered a wonderful running opportunity: Hershey’s Track and Field.

In Hershey’s Track and Field ages 7-14 compete at community, state, and (if selected) the national level.

In my 7th grade year I was selected to run the mile at NATIONALS! I got to go on an all-expenses paid trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania to run against girls from all over the USA and Canada. I can’t even begin to describe how that experience has changed and impacted my life. Not only did I get to race at a national level, I also met Olympians, learned about the benefits of hydration and stretching, and most important: the seeds of some very big dreams were planted in my heart.

Those dreams were watered not only by my success as a runner in high school track, but I was also impacted in a big way by my faith in Jesus. There have been many times in my running career when I questioned why God made me into a runner. Questions circle in my head, “What is the point of running and competing? Is it all just worthless in the end?”

When thoughts like these come I have to remind myself of when my church’s youth group went on a trip to Branson, Missouri to a Chip Brimm Champions4Christ summer camp. It was at that summer camp that I found purpose for my running. From those sessions of awesome worship and teaching I came home with this revelation: “I am anointed to run at a level the world has never seen, all for the glory of God!” Running is my mission field, and I am anointed to be there.

When I go to practices and meets I interact with people, and that is where I can shine bright for Jesus. Matthew 5:16 declares, “Let your light so shine before men, that they [others] may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” This verse is a command. The blessings that God has given you, the dreams He has planted in your heart are not just for you. They are meant to bring light to a dark world; the wonderful and great blessings in your life come from a God that loves to do wonderful and great blessings in the life of others too! Take that statement and remove the word “run” and replace it with your passion. God has given you a great gift too; He has planted wonderful desires in your heart and He is just waiting to see you shine bright. Don’t be scared that you won’t be good enough, or that others will be better than you. God has your back. He is ready to take you past your limitations and expectations.

God watering my dreams with blessings and mercy has brought me to where I am today: sitting in my room writing a blog post about running while I am a week away from competing at NAIA Indoor Track Nationals in my senior season with the Jimmies. I will have qualified for 3 NAIA Cross-country National Championships, 2 NAIA Indoor Track Nationals, and 3 (hopefully 4) NAIA Outdoor Track Nationals in my time with the University of Jamestown.

I have been blessed with teammates that challenge me and make me a better runner and a better person. I have been blessed with a coach that knows what he is doing, and knows how to bring an average runner up into the ranks of the greats like Katie Conlon, Aleona Reyes, and Teresa Loyd.

God has a good plan for you, and I can assure you that it isn’t just to excel in college. His plan is that you excel at life! My competitive running career may be over soon, but I have learned a thing or two along the way. I am ready to get after life and shine bright for God in the role of wife, (eventually) mother, accountant, and whatever else He has planned for me. My prayer is that you go out into this world with the confidence that God has blessed you with as well!

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Posted:February 26, 2016

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