Race day arrived.
Much anticipation has gone into this race for me, even if training wasn't up to the right standard.
Saturday night before, the family and I went to the Spaghetti Warehouse so I could carb up for the big race. We had a great time there, as none of us had ever eaten there. We laughed and joked and ate good food. Then not long after, crashed, in anticipation for the next day.
I am fortunate that they all decided to join me and cheer me on through this half marathon.
Yes, I have run many races. I have accomplished this type of finish before. But this race held a different significance of sorts. This race was a time for the family to rally together. This race was a symbolism of faith in many aspects of "pressing on" and "fighting the good fight" and "finishing strong".
Going into this race, I wanted to just say that I would finish. I didn't want to set a time goal on myself. However, I have the competitive gene in me, only against myself, not against other runners. And in my mind, as hard as I tried not to set a time goal, I wanted to at least finish better than my "worst" half marathon time. Which means I wanted to finish in less than 3 hours. silly me and my competitive spirit.
Michael kissed me and the kids high fived me and I was off as the gun shot out it was time to start. In my mind, I thought I would go a few miles and take some time to walk a little and then press on more. But I was feeling good, so I kept pushing forward. At mile 2, my family was there, shooting photos. A smile spread on my face. My steps got a little lighter. I could keep going. As the race moved on, my mantra became "Dig Deep". Runners often use mantras to keep themselves going. I really had never done this, but that kept coming to my mind, so I kept repeating it. Dig deep... see how far God has brought me. Dig deep.... see how strong I am without really understanding the strength. Dig deep....keep going when it hurts. Emotionally. Physically. Dig Deep and hang onto Jesus. Around mile 4.5, the family was there again. I never knew when I would see them! Michael stood and cheered. I yelled out "I have no idea what mile I am at!"(my watch somehow had died) But the encouragement pushed me to keep running strong. There were 2 ladies right in front of me at that time and they told me what the mile was and said "who cares! just keep it up!" I stuck with them for a bit, but we eventually split ways. Around mile 7, I see my son Joseph on the side of the path, waiting to run a few steps with me. He had a cheesy grin on his face, pointing out signs up ahead that would force to me smile. He not only encouraged me, he also encouraged those 2 ladies who were in front of me a few miles before. I kept going. I couldn't believe I had not walked yet. Determination was strong. Digging deep was pushing me. My thoughts were wandering and floating through all God has been teaching me.
I was getting tired, but kept saying Dig Deep and I kept going somehow. I was on track for a better time than I anticipated.
Mile 8 I found the heels of those 2 ladies again. I stayed on their heels. They were high fiveing runners passing the other way (There was a turn around up ahead, meaning these runners were ahead of us, on their way back on the course). These ladies had some positive energy. I stayed with them, quietly. I listened to my music and found new determination yet again. By mile 9, I finally said to these ladies "You guys are pushing me. I love it!" And we began chatting. That is one thing I love about the running community. It is so very friendly. You can pick up a conversation with just about anyone on a race course. You can share the most deep things or the most simple things, it doesn't matter. What matters is you have a bond for a few moments with a stranger. But the bond feels so strong it's unreal. It is a bond that keeps you going when it's tough out there. Kelly and Miranda became that bond for me around mile 9. We chatted, We sometimes traded who was just ahead or who was behind, but we stayed together. At mile 10, my family showed up again, at just the right time. I drank from the water they had. My son once again ran a few steps with me. He said "Have you walked at all?" I said, "No." He said "Keep it up . You're doing great!" What an encourager at 9 years old.
AT mile 11, my back hurt, my feet were tired and the battery on my bluetooth headphones had died. But I was digging deep, finding strength, and the burning desire to keep going.
Kelly and Miranda continued to serve encouragement. It was a beautiful 4 mile bond that served a great purpose. As mile 12 came along, we were ready to be finished.
The last 2/10 of a mile they pulled just ahead of me. I was tired. I was on the verge of tears. And I was ready to finish. But I dug deep. And I finished. I did it(under my worst half marathon time, mind you :) ) I was happy. I was tired. I was sore. But I finished.
I found a new sense of strength in this finish. I found a new peace of "I am going to be okay no matter what" . I found a deeper joy in running. I found new lessons God wants me to see, about His love, His grace, His forgiveness, His presence, His joy and His strength. I can do nothing without His strength. Nothing-not run a half marathon, not be the wife He wants me to be, not be a great mommy or a good barista. I can do nothing without His strength and guidance. And oh yeah....I found a large part of me as well in this finish.
I can't wait for my next race.... but I think I will give it a week to recover ;)