The marathon idea soon became too far fetch so I settled for a 1/2 marathon. That too became out of reach when I was constantly sidelined due to injuries. Finally, I settled on a 5k.
My first race was a part of my Lenten program in 2009. I was riddled with pain from training and tried to desperately work through my aliments. I soon became convinced that 5ks would be the longest race that I would ever participate in.
I continued to run sporadically. I quickly learned that being outdoors, soaking in some V-D and increasing endorphins was just what the doctor ordered for me. I would go on date walks/runs with Dad. I recruited a training partner when my need for more consistent outdoor exercise peaked. Rose was hesitant to run but more than delighted to get some mother-daughter time with me.
Before you know it, we were training for a 1/2 marathon. That goal was out of reach when we Rose was injured in a soccer game. I lost motivation. Nonetheless, I managed to rally the troops and run for a cause, another Lenten program of mine. I ran a 10k with Dad for the NUN RUN – Shadow Run.
I continued to train on a irregular basis while Rose went to therapy to heal. I picked up my training over the summer. That too, was short lived due to an ankle injury. However, God sent me some motivation to preserve through the injury and stay on course.
I met up with another mom at the kid’s swim team practice. She was challenged by her sister to run a marathon in a year. She shared her desire to find a training partner since her sister lived out of state. The best part, she lives down the street from me, is a homeschooling mom and Sister in Christ. It was completely providential that we came together.
I started training with K within weeks of discussing our plans. I followed a modified version of this training plan. I took my long runs on Friday and had the weekend off. I woke up every morning at 4:30am to prepare for a 5am run with K. (The Good Lord knew I was having trouble rising early in the morning for my family so He found a way to get me up.)
I trained for several weeks with my ankle only at 60%. It wasn’t pretty and my time reflected it. I remained committed and focused on the progress I was making in regards to the intangible; an increase in energy, less moody and I was motivated to get an early start on my school day.
There were many obstacles that continued to riddle my efforts. I spoke about some of them here. I give thanks to God for giving me the grace and strength to stay committed to the race.
I waited until the very last min to register for the race because I wanted to be certain that I could run--entrance fees are not cheap. The reality of what I signed up for began to set in on Friday when I picked up my race packet. I got the pre-race nerves. I recalled my last long run, it was shortly after my miscarriage. That run was humbling and painful in many ways. It was definitely part of my healing but it left me with doubts about my ability to complete the 1/2 marathon. Dad walked me through my grief and prayed over me.
Despite my efforts to focus on just finishing the race, my competitive nature led me to set a time goal. Crazy, I know, but I did unite it to Him--all for His glory.
The Night Before the Race
I had my pre-race dinner with family after a busy day with Little Flowers and house hunting. I kept the race a secret from my parents and sister because I didn’t know if I would be up to running.
My beloved children let the secret out of the bag. My mom was excited for me to be racing. She tried to rally the troops and form an impromptu cheering squad. I convinced her that I needed to do this on my own. She conceded but could not accept that fact that I would be traveling solo. My mom volunteered to drive me and signed up for the corresponding 5k--another answered prayer.
I went to bed early, after reviewing the course map, one last time.
On race day, I woke up at 5am to prep. I had to keep telling myself, “It’s no different than training, just follow the pacer.”
I arrived about 45min early and the place was flooded with cars. Mom managed to find a nearby parking spot.
We headed to the start.
First Miles 1-5
I was stuck to the pace marker like glue. I felt great and was certain that I could pick up the pace but I knew I lacked experience so I stayed where I was.
I wasn’t ready for the commotion caused at the water stations. It caused me to lose some ground from my desired spot by the pacer. Still, I wasn’t too worried by the distance.
The streets were filled with cheer and MOOs.
I was feeling great. I was drinking Nunn and popping Sports Beans and Zingers as needed. The pacer was still nearby at the start of mile 6.
Shortly into mile 6, I could see the road surface change. This was a concern for me since I run barefoot. I’ve trained on many surfaces for varying distances but mixed aggregate remains by nemesis. It has a way with pinching and bruising the soles of my feet.
I was discouraged but continued to run. My pace decreased and I began to loose sight of the pace runner. I found my back-up running course, the painted lines--they’re always smoother than the rough aggregate and provide me with a brief reprieve.
I tuned back into my iPhone so I could follow the pace provided by the app Joggy Coach. (The free version is great for all types of workouts.) According to the app, I was ahead of where I initially planned. Still, I felt great and wanted to push myself.
The morning was cool but I began to fell the sun settling. Or was that my muscles becoming over heated. My quads were burning and my lower back had a slight ach. I adjusted my stride and foot strike. I carried on at a faster pace since the road surface was favorable. I hoped to make up for the previous miles and possibly catch the pace runner.
(Note to runners who run with partners: other runners can hear your conversations. There were many conversations that I was able to tune out while remaining in pray but there was one that I was allowed to hear. I trust that He allowed it. It was close to mile 12 and I was worn but pushing myself. I could hear the gawking of two female runners. “Look! Look! She doesn’t have shoes on.” To which her friend replied, “She’s an idiot!………..” Together they carried on to criticize me.
The words seem trivial as I type them but they pierced my at the time I heard them.
I wanted so desperately to speak up to defend myself but I couldn’t--my tongue was tied. I returned to my normal running mediation, the Passion of Christ. I reflected on the verbal insults that Christ endured on top of His physical suffering.)
As I view the scene, I become moved by outrage, anguish and gratitude. I look at Jesus. His face. The crown of thorns. The blood. His clothes stuck to the wounds on his back. This is for me. That I might be free. That I might have eternal life. I ask to be with Jesus. To follow his journey. I express my love and thanks.
I could hear the announcer at the start/finish line. Yet, it seemed like I had many more miles to go. The spectators assured us runners that we were on the home stretch. I debated if I should pick up speed all the way to the finish or hold off a bit longer. I decided to hold off. I turned the corner and thought, oh no, I waited too long. I saw the finish line and sprinted to it. Steps away, I realized that it was the .5 mile mark. I wasn’t about to continue my sprint for another .5 mile since I could feel the tightness from the lactic acid buildup.
I reserved what was left for my last sprint during the .2 mile. I crossed the finish line in a sprint at 2 hours and 23 min.
I later learned that my actual time was 2 hours 20 min 45 sec--10 mins faster than my goal time.
I give all praise and glory to God for allowing me to cross the finish line.
I knew that this would be much more than just a physical journey but I never could have envisioned the extent that He would bless me. The Good Lord, the ultimate physician, has worked on my whole being through this physical journey. He has allowed it to strengthen my spiritual life. He has healed my aching heart and brought me to a place of better health. He has reminded me of my severe limitations and led me to a closer union with Him in prayer. He showed me the way and reminded me that He is always with me.
I must turn to Him for strength and trust that He will provide exactly what I need, when I need it, in the manner that is needed. I must always seek to radiate Him to others and find Him in all things.
Jesus is my everything!
In His JOY,