I know it has been way too long since I have blogged. I have so much to say but little time to say it. Now that I have a few free quiet moments, I will quickly tell you about my first marathon!
On-Again, Off-Again:I had *not* trained like I had hoped. Between stomach bugs that made all the males in my household vomit for a week, a sickness of my own, the Thanksgiving holiday, a special 4th birthday, and other such manners, running took a very back seat in the drive of life.
Last minute, I decided “Oh why not!” and I called my mom two days before the race and she agreed to watch the boys. Our friends, Eric and Amanda, in the town of the marathon agreed to house us, and Eric even agreed to pick up my packet so that I would not have the stress. Since they literally lived a few block from the start site, I could not have a better race day set up made.
On the 3 hour drive there, I debated with Thomas about running the half or the whole marathon. I knew I could do a half, for I have been there and done that. A whole, however, was certainly a different story and having never ran over 13.1 miles, doubling that seemed idiotic. I decided I would not do the whole.
As The SWAG Dictated:We stopped short of the race city and met friends, Jason and Anne, for carbo-loading. Even while eating dinner the night before, I was settled on the half. When we got to our friends in the race city, Eric handed me my race day packet. As I pulled out my shirt, I was disappointed, for the front was bland and boring. As I took a moment to gripe, Eric stated, “Well at least yours is a pretty color! The half-marathoners have an ugly gray.” “What? Our shirts are a different color?”I replied. “Yeah, and you have different race number colors too.” It was at that point I knew I was going to have to run the whole. I was not going home with memorabilia that said I ran a whole when I only ran a half. Game on.
Make New Friends But Keep The Old: That morning Eric was awake when I prepared to leave. He was such a sweet friend, helping me decide what gear to wear for the weather and putting saran wrap over my sticky race bib. I headed out to catch the trolley to the start line, and while waiting with other runners, a limo came and the driver said he would take runners for $2 each. I had no money. A fellow runner, albeit a stranger, paid for me, so I journeyed to the start line in style. New and old friends both paid off.
Father, Forgive Me For I Have Sinned:While waiting for the start, I chatted with runners. One guy next to me was worried that he would not be able to finish the whole marathon. He said he had only ran a few 20 mile long runs as his prep, and after that confession, he asked what my furthest run was. I looked right at him and lied. I know I shouldn’t have done it, for that is wrong, but I was not really wanting to hear how ridiculous I was being. You just do not go out and double your longest run ever. You build up. 13.1 to 26.2 automatically is not wise. So, I said 18 miles. It sound good enough. I knew the only way I would cross the finish line was if the Lord desired.
Mile By Mile: There were over 16,000 runners. Being that the run was for a a children’s hospital, there were signs thanking us for running. They actually called us heroes, and hearing “Way to go hero!” was certainly fun. At about mile 11, I had decided hearing strangers cheer was not enough. It seemed runners around me were seeing people they knew and loved, not to mention signs made specifically for them. I had told Thomas and my friends not to worry catching me on the course. It was just too hectic to try and figure that out, so they were going to meet me at the finish. I asked God for someone I knew. Silly, but I wanted it. About a half a mile later, I hear “Summer!” and I saw a girl that I went to college with cheering. More miles later, the split came, where marathon runners went left and half-marathon runners went right. There was a lady standing in the middle of the split staring you down as you approached, pointing you to the correct direction depending on the color of your bib. She pointed me to the left and full marathon runner territory was entered. Shortly after the split, I saw my good friend’s brother-in-law, and I had known his wife was running. I yelled, “Mark! How is Julie doing?” but before he could answer, I heard “Summer!” and I knew it was the voice of my friend’s mom. I immediately turned and ran her direction and hugged her. I was so excited to have seen them, among the thousands and thousands of people. Such a blessing.
Holy Hamstrings Batman! After I saw the 13.1 mile sign, I welcomed myself to uncharted territory. Around mile 17 my hamstrings began to hate me. At about mile 20, I began to think this was the stupidest decision, ever. Not necessarily running it period but about running so haphazardly thanks to my poor training. At mile 23, however, I realized just how close I was, so I just kept going and going and going…..for another 3.2 miles.
Home Sweet Home: When I got to the finish line, I saw Thomas cheering in the bleachers. I crossed the finish and joined other runners trying to stretch out aches while wearing what I called “Alien Blankets” to help warm us (see alien blankets to the left). I eventually headed towards the “family reunion area” where Thomas greeted me with a hug, kiss, and yellow roses. He said he felt silly for having flowers because he did not see anyone else with flowers. I told him that made me love the flowers even more. Amanda and Eric also congratulated me. We took off and began to walk to Eric and Amanda’s home while the three of them purposely complained about having to walk a few blocks. They found it extremely funny to gripe to me about walking after I ran a marathon. Ahhh, good times.
This Side of Heaven: If you ever want time with God, take up running. Those that struggle will cry out His name. Those that enjoy running will love the conversation as the miles are logged. I fall into that second category. If you run a marathon, however, you fall a little into both categories at some point, and you certainly have a long time to chat with the Lord. During this race, I experienced a joy I will see in heaven, and I find it rare that anyone can participate in anything outside of worship to the Lord that can be such a phenomenal glimpse of that place while still on earth. While running though a densely populated area of spectators, I got a glimpse of glory. It may sound odd but everyone was cheering full force for you. The people did not care your pace, your previous running experience, if you were running the full or half, or if this was your first marathon or if this was your last. It was of no concern to the people if you had on nice shoes or no shoes. They just simply cheered because you were a runner. They gave high-fives, rang cow bells, shook signs, and smiled. Little children jumped up and down with glee. And as I was running past them all, I got teary eyed because God was showing me this side of heaven what it will be like one day when I am there. I will enter into His gates and everyone will be cheering for me. It will not matter how little or how much money I made on earth. My degrees and possessions will matter not in the level of their applause. The Saints that have gone before will simply cheer because I am a believer and I made it home. How awesome is that, my friends?
And it only took 26.2 miles for me to figure that one out :O)