I can’t believe it. The day finally came to run the half-marathon this weekend. After 3 months of training and over 117 miles run during training, I was nervous, but as ready as I was ever going to be.
It was a beautiful, crisp Montana morning. Racers lined up with excitement and nervousness filled the air. Over 3,000 people had registered to run the full-marathon and the half-marathon total. They started by playing a recording of The Star Spangled Banner. I stood with my hand over my heart with the moon still visible in the sky. The sun was lighting the sky, but still had not made it’s appearance. Fireworks went off continually, and the race began.
Mile 1-I walked the first mile. Two times during my training, I had tweaked my Achilles tendon. It had always been during the first mile. I decided it would be best for me to walk the first mile, be careful and warm up to avoid any injury. A couple came out of their home to sit on their deck with their coffee and watch the marathoners. A prayer-God, please give me strength and protect me from injury.
Mile 2-I was running now. My Achilles tendon felt great. The sun was just showing a sliver of it’s glory as it rose over the crest of the mountain top. The river flowed quietly by. My thoughts-What a masterful creator God is. Beautiful.
Mile 3-I am a quarter of the way done. A woman had ridden her bike to a spot on the side of the road and had leaned her bike up against a telephone pole. She was playing the bongo drum as we ran by. Her offering of support. Reminded me of the Little Drummer boy. My thoughts-Thank you God for feeling good today and no pain in my Achilles tendon. Very thankful.
Mile 4-A man who works at the music store here in town was sitting in the yard at his grand piano. He played classical music while wearing a black tuxedo as the runners ran past. His offering. My thoughts-I need to run as much as I can while it is cool, and the sun is low. The sun and heat will slow me down later on in the race.
Mile 5-So many supporters along the way lining the streets. Some with sprinklers running so the water would hit the road for the runners to run through. Others with ice in coolers for runners to use to cool down. What a show of community support. My thoughts-The race seems to be going so fast. I am almost halfway there. I can’t believe it.
Mile 6-More supporters cheering us on. Signs placed all along the road either for individuals cheering on a loved one or signs of encouragement. Signs such as, “You’ve trained for this. Now go for it.” My thoughts-Keep running while you feel good. Dig deep. Make that training pay off.
Mile 7-The halfway point. The song Maniac came on my iPod. One lyrics says, “Never stopping with her head against the wind, She’s a maniac, maniac…” My thoughts-That’s right. I am a maniac for doing this, but I am not stopping. I am going to run with my head against the wind and keep going. I am over halfway done. Still feeling pretty good.
Mile 8-A blur. More of the same. Sugar coated gummy bears for carb energy at the water station on this mile. I had to stop and walk to eat those, but I didn’t mind. Yummy.
Mile 9-My legs are starting to feel heavy. My breathing feels good, but my legs are getting tired. Walking more. My thoughts-I am three quarters of the way there. Only 4 more miles. That is like a training run. I can do this. Lord, give me strength.
Mile 10-The first full-marathoner passes the half-marathoners group. He was really cooking it. I found out later he was doing about a 5 minute mile for the whole 26.2 miles. He had an entourage of three guys on bicycles with backpacks on each guy. They are offering him beverages or gel packs as he runs. My thoughts-I wonder if I could have done better on my run if I had had an entourage following me on bikes. I had gone 10 miles in the time it took him to run 23. Amazing.
Mile 11-I am in the home stretch. Time has seemed to go by so fast. The excitement of the race. The support of the community. Watching the other racers. My eyes fill with tears and my throat catches with emotion. My thoughts-I am in the home stretch. I would be done soon. I wish my Dad were alive. I think he would have been so proud of me for doing this. I wonder if he knows or can see me?
Mile 12-I am getting pretty tired. My legs feel like lead. I am trying to run as much as I can, but am doing a lot of walking now. I can begin to hear the crowd at the finish line in the distance even though I can’t see them. I want to run the rest of the way there, but know I don’t have enough energy for that. My thoughts-I am almost there. I am teary when I think of the accomplishment, and my family waiting for me at the finish line.
Running across the bridge to give a high five to my family
Mile 13-I ran my best pace over the bridge and over the river. I am a lone runner with no one else around me. I scan the faces to see if I can find my family. They are there waving and taking my picture. I ran over and gave Carl a high five. My friend, Shannan, who was going to run with me this year before she got pregnant with her third child was waiting for me across the finish line to present me with my medal. My thoughts-I am so thankful for my family and my friends who supported me. I did it. What an accomplishment. God is good!
My friend, Shannan, who presented me with my medal at the finish line
I want to thank God first and foremost. It is human, I guess, to take accomplishments onto ourselves when it is only God who controls what happens in this life. The Achilles tendon injury was meant to teach me that. God created the body. He made it able to train and get conditioned to get stronger and stronger. He also is the ultimate healer. I prayed for a non-rainy day, for no injuries, and to feel good on race day. He delivered. Praise God.
I want to thank my husband, Carl, who watched the kids for hour upon hour while I went out for a run. Thanks, babe! He has been so proud of me even though he has told me a couple of times he didn’t think I would ever make it to the race. Not in a negative way, but he has never known me to do anything athletic before much less a half-marathon. Me either! He is now talking about us running together next year. That would make my heart happy.
Thanks also to my family and friends who checked up on me to find out how my training was going. You encouraged me. You gave me advice. You were my accountability when Carl was traveling to make sure I returned home when I said I was going to be home. You told me you were proud of me, and I could do it. It meant more to me than you will ever know.
The official, first time half-marathoner
I through Christ alone had the courage enough to start the training, the endurance to train and run the race, and the grace to finish it.
“In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise Your name forever.” Psalm 44:8