I was more than a little hesitant about participating. First of all, I had never really done much extensive walking for my workouts, and off the bat, I thought this might be an issue. Remember, it was an article on walking. Second, I am a marathon runner. This means I take pride in having run 26.2 miles. So for me, the idea of talking about walking as my primary source of exercise was like asking a baby to eat pureed carrots after she had been chomping away on French fries. Yuck! Lastly, while I consider God to be my friend, He had never been my workout buddy. Now, don’t hear me wrong. I’ve done some praying while exercising; however, up until this point, I wouldn’t have considered exercise to be time spent “hanging out with God.” Also, my prayers were often wedged between songs of loud, fast-paced music. Back then I certainly didn’t have sweet songs of worship on my iPod. However, despite all of these reasons, I did tell Melissa I would think about the article.

Within two or three days of the call from Melissa, I began to think about my potential contribution to the article. Strangely, that same week I began experiencing excruciating pain in my left foot whenever I tried to run. I’m talking real pain! Maybe not “pushing out a baby” pain, but pain like “want to rip off your feet” pain. It hurt.

My initial way of handling most things is the same as most other people. I’m a do-it-yourself kind of girl. So this meant that with a special shoe insert from the sporting goods store and 800 milligrams of Ibuprofen, I should be good to go. Wrong! The pain began to get worse after a few more attempts to work out. So I finally gave in and went to see my good friend Dr. Rob Nelson. Dr. Rob was the podiatrist I had run my first marathon with, along with a team for the Leukemia Society. I figured going to see him would help. If anyone knew how desperately I wanted to get on the road again, it was my old running partner.

When I went to see him, he wasn’t my buddy at all. Suddenly he switched to “Mr. Hippocratic Oath–taker.” He said he had to take X-rays, do an exam, blah, blah, blah! Then, when all that nonsense was done, he had the nerve to tell me my running career was over—for at least a while. In fact, Rob even “robbed” me of my dream to run the Boston Marathon. (I had already accepted I’d wait until I could qualify in the over-75 division.)

I was mad. Not at Rob, but at myself. My “more is more” mentality had stolen something I felt strong doing. So only half-listening, I chatted with my doctor (and dream crusher) about the options I had for continuing to exercise. Rob said two things to me: swim and walk. I heard two things: get and fat. To tell you the truth, I was terrified I’d never find any workout that had the intensity I enjoyed.

As I went home to feel sorry for myself, I began to think about the article on walking. Next, I said a simple prayer. I asked God to give me an exercise plan that would help me stay in shape, keep me out of pain, and make me want to do it all over again. Then I woke up the next morning while it was still dark and I hit the road as a walker, my feet no longer bouncing off the ground.

Within the first five minutes, I was really bored. My body was used to intense exercise. I didn’t feel challenged enough to focus. But I kept going, and eventually I powered up my iPod and began to listen to music that had a great beat and an even greater message. Then Kirk Franklin’s song “Looking for You” came on, and as I began to pick up my pace and swing my arms, I realized God was there. He was moving right along with me, encouraging me to push harder and move faster. The more I prayed and began to thank the Lord for giving me legs that worked, the more sweat began to drip down my forehead.