Monday, November 26, 2012

Run a Half Marathon - Check!

I saw my fingers typing before I could stop them. I glanced at the names on the screen...all part of my accountability group. What was I thinking? My head believed it too. My heart wanted to trust, but my body was revolting. Are you insane? You will surely fail. How many times must you fail before you realize the goal is just too lofty...I mean you are 42 years old and just now getting healthy for the first time in over 20 years. With all of that talk running through my head, I re-read the email....

My goals (as far as running) are to finish a 5K (walking mainly), run/walk a 5K, run an entire 5K, finish a 10K, run an entire 10K and begin training for a half-marathon.

Before I could stop my right hand, I hit the send button, and it was out there to my accountability partners. A half-marathon? Really? I could not even run a 5K at the time much less 13.1 miles. It seemed like a long way away and perhaps I could just increase mileage each week and get there. I could always walk...or crawl.

Then, the day came. In Orange Beach, Alabama where there's a beach and sand and supposedly the sun. It should be warm, right? Nope, the day we are to run, a cold front has arrived overnight, and it is now in the lower 40's. So, I put on my hooded running jacket and shivered. And shivered some more while we stretched and waited for the race to start. Surely, I will warm I took off the jacket and walked briskly to the start line.

JT was a little nervous as it was only five minutes before the start when Madison and I showed up...there's always a line at the women's bathroom, you know! It's a good thing we went when we did as we were not able to go again until the race was over. That was a miracle in itself....

People crowded around, and my heart was beating out of my chest. Thoughts of failure and training and injury and finishing all ran through my head. And then, just like that, I saw people begin to run. I followed. We wanted to stay together as a family...that was our priority.

Our goal was simple...stick together and run the race. Don't go too fast so we give out before the end. Drink along the way and stay the course. As we approached the water station at mile 4.5, we felt pretty good. We ran along the main beach road and then headed back onto the trail system. We pass mile 6...okay, we are making it. Then, I hear my Nike app declare that we are halfway there. I celebrate just a little in my head. And I see the sign that reads "Alligator Habitat"...I might run a tad bit faster through that section.

By mile 9, my legs are feeling every single step. I am naming all the people around me (Turkey Boy, Bumblebee, Models3, Bible Scholars, Josh Moffatt...that was his real name..the youngest participant. I felt it my duty to know his name and encourage him. Chevron Stripe Girls, Blue Momma, Edna and Ethel...). I read all of the benches that are named in honor or memory of people. I read anything I can see. Whatever it takes to get my mind off the cramps in my legs.

I see mile 10 and know that we can certainly finish a 5K. The two miles it took to get to mile 12 though seemed more like 10! But, God sustained and kept us going. We followed JT's lead wherever he went. Occasionally, we started walking and tried to stretch out our stride to loosen the muscles or kick our rear to stretch the quads. It didn't work too well. My body was revolting. But, then we saw mile marker 12 and knew we only had 1.1 to go. We picked up the pace.

The most glorious sight was the small opening of the park ahead. I knew the finish line was close. I could hear it. We rounded the corner and heard the announcer call our names. Side by side we pushed forward. On the left side of the finish line, I saw Kaitlyn snapping photos, my nephews Clarke giving a high five to JT, my older brother Bill who traveled down just to see us finish, my brother David who had just completed his fastest half-marathon, Jett, Zeke and Elly who were screaming You Did It! I thought I would cry, but I didn't. I just praised God for all that He had done. He was and is and will be good. He gets the praise. This medal belongs to Him.

It was only a daydream on paper and in the cyber world six months ago. Now, it is a reality. Half marathon - check.

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