I thought I might cry when I crossed the finish line. I thought I might be overcome with emotion. I thought I might be dying of hunger. I thought I might…. the mind takes you a million places when you’re planning for the culmination of an event that you’ve been working towards for months.
On Friday, as I planned for the longest race of my life (to this point), I was all jitters. I was literally all nerves all day until that evening when I wrote up my list of those I would pray for during my race. The more confident I became in my prayer list, the less nervous I was. Like Adam told me over and over again, I’d run this distance before, so the only new addition were all the hills which would account for any additional time it took me to complete.
I talked to my boss at work, who was also running the race, and his encouragement was to take the front side of the race slowly and save energy for the latter half. I was planning on taking his advice until I heard from a fellow runner what my pace had been for the first few miles—almost a minute faster than I had been training.
I was afraid I’d used my energy too early. However, I kept running just like I’d trained, not quitting on the hills, relaxing my upper body as much as possible, and putting all my energy into my legs.
I talked with some other runners as we raced –another woman equally as nervous about the hills and distance. We laughed and ran. I ran with an older gentleman for a few miles who had run a marathon only the Sunday prior. He kept up a decent pace and greeted all those working the race at every turn and water station. Later on, another woman and I played leap-frog, passing each other back and forth. I would have stayed in front of her completely, but I walked a few times, and she passed me as I’d slow down. She was wearing a watch that marked our time, and I knew I was shooting for a decent time once I’d finished my first 6 miles. Of course, only halfway through and hot and tired, I knew that I had a long way to go before calling this race a victory.
As we continued on, a younger guy came up on my right —Brian– and we talked for a while about how he sang and played air guitar through his races. This was the shortest race he’d ever run, the most recent being a Pennsylvania marathon that he ran just two weeks ago. He ran with his keys in his pocket, and I told him that the first song he should sing that day was “Jingle Bells” because of the sound his keys made.
I prayed. I had planned on writing my list on my arm with a marker that would not easily wash away, so that I would not lose track; but in my posting and preparation that morning, I totally forgot. However, God was so good and at every mile marker, I knew confidently who I was praying for next. It was amazing to laugh and talk with other runners (I’ve never been a social runner), but it was even more amazing to quietly talk to the God of the Universe Who was fueling each of my steps and beseech Him on behalf of the people I love.
Names and faces came to mind and confident, focused and specific prayers left my heart and rose the throne of Grace. It is amazing what encouragement we can receive from praying for others.
Around mile 9.5, we were at the top of a sunny hill and I looked into the cars in traffic just in time to see Adam wave. He had driven the route and found me. It was so encouraging to see his face and continue in my run knowing he was rooting me on. He passed again, and I heard the little beep of his fire horn. Later, I passed him again and took some pictures. I was surprised how much energy I had, and how much fun I had goofing off for his pictures. I laughed and posed and ran.
I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having!
When I got to the all-down hill last two miles or so, the excitement grew. I almost laughed when every race volunteer kept saying “It’s all downhill from here.” I wanted to respond that that’s what I’d been told for the last mile or so and it wasn’t getting any easier because of the decline. It had still been 12 miles of running!
As I saw the finish line ahead of me, I saw also the lady I had been running near and getting passed by and passing for so many miles this race. I picked up my speed and ran up next to her. I wanted to simply pass her and beat her altogether, but she saw me coming and increased her speed as well. We were both tired and I turned to her and said, “Let’s finish this together; I’ll race you there.” In perfect stride, we raced all the way to the finish, where we completed the 12.4-mile race in perfect stride and in identical time: 1:53:34.
I am so excited to say that I hit my goal time (hills and all) and am excited to train for the next race. I am even more excited to see what God is going to do in the next phase of lessons that I’m sure He’ll teach me as I continue on.
Thank you all for your prayers!
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40: 28-31