A few months back, you may recall a post about being a part of a REAL RACE TEAM!!! A brief recap, this team is running in various marathons and half marathons raising funds for a ministry that provides pastoral care for people in full-time ministry. They do this by providing cost-free retreats for these people so they can rest, recharge, and hear God’s voice in fresh new ways…all so they can be more effective in the ministry they have been called to.
You may also recall that I had declared a personal goal of raising $1000.00 for this ministry by running the Nashville Half Marathon. My life was changed as a volunteer at one of these retreats and I saw other lives changed and continue to hear about the work of those same missionaries and pastors that came for a time of rest and are now continuing to change lives.
I am quite pleased and thankful and a bit overwhelmed to be able to report that thanks to a whole bunch of really generous people, that goal has not only been reached, but it has been exceeded!!!! My unofficial count is $1174.00 which will sponsor almost 4 people to attend a week-long retreat!
Thank You!! Thank You!! Thank You!! and for those who were not able to give financially, but have been with me in prayer or in encouragement as I trained for this race and in the rest of my journey….thank you too!! All the methods of generous giving have not gone unnoticed or unfelt!
Now for those of you who care to know ALL the details of how my Nashville Half Marathon went…read on friends. If you have been around a while, you know my race reports get quite lengthy. The short version is in a previous post called “it’s Coming.”
I traveled to Nashville once again with a group of friends, some who ran and some who came simply to cheer!(but being a race fan involves so much more than cheering when it is for me!) The crew this year consisted of Ben, Jen, Leann, Aaron, Erin, Mitch, Holly, and Rebecca…and we met up with my cousins down there, Thomas and Elizabeth.
Once again, it was a super fun trip with lots of laughter. It is those memories that make me forget the struggle and want to do it again next year.
This year, I went into Nashville, feeling very under trained. I had gotten sick smack in the middle of my training and didn’t run for 3 weeks. In fact, I didn’t workout at all during that time. As I headed into Nashville, my longest run was 8.5 miles. I knew it would be painful. I knew it would be rough. I knew what I had done to train for this last year and I knew I truly was not nearly as prepared and it was painful then. But I also knew, I would do my best. I would give it my all…and I would cross that finish line.
On Friday, after spending the day in Downtown Nashville and getting our race numbers, we came back to my cousin Mike and Catherine’s for what seems to be the annual pre-race spaghetti dinner. All was well and good. Lots of laughter. Elizabeth is a riot. Super dramatic and a great story-teller so we were quite entertained.
Soon though it was time to head to bed and suddenly…I was anxious. Suddenly I am in a panic as I gather my race gear for the next day and make sure I have everything. I double and triple checked everything…then I went and took a shower and checked everything again…and I knew….just like last year, sleep was not going to come easily. I told Mike it was time to put in a movie and I immediately began texting Coach. Lo and behold…I was asleep on the couch by 10 PM. I kid you not, this is a miracle. Last year…well…it was at least 1 AM before I fell asleep and then it was fitful at best.
I awoke in a panic on race morning and quickly got ready. This didn’t take too much doing since I had slept in my running clothes. (I told you I was a bit nervous). All I had to do was put on some deodorant, brush my teeth, my shoes and my bib # had to go on and eat some breakfast. Oh and put my hair in a ponytail. Crap! don’t forget the heart rate monitor!
We headed downtown by 5:30 AM. It was a brisk, early, Nashville morning and was predicted to be 80 degrees and cloudless. Jen and I decided that regardless of where our bib numbers told us we had to start, we would start in the same corral, even though we knew we would both run our own pace and quickly separate.
While standing there, I realized I never put on any sunscreen. I knew this would be a painful race already and I knew I didn’t want to have to deal with the pain of sunburn too…so I texted my #1 Race fan, Aaron, one question. “Does Leann have her sunscreen on her?” The message was clear, regardless of whether she does or not, I need some. I put my phone away, it was time to run, knowing that somehow, I would be taken care of and protected from the sun’s rays.
And I was.
Aaron and Leann ran around the streets of Nashville and found a gas station that had sunscreen. Erin stayed on the course to catch up with me somewhere around mile 3 and then called the others to let them know where I was…they then sprinted and caught up to us and ran with me as I applied some sunscreen (while running-because the hula hooping walkers were close behind and I could NOT let them pass me). Then they sent me on my way…and told me they would see me at mile 8 to run me in.
Now you may want to note, to be a race fan of mine, you may be called on to do some actual work. These guys are amazing friends to have in your corner on race day…and I am not sure I could ever do a distance race like this without them there nor would I want to.
Backing up a bit, my cousin Elizabeth made a special IPOD playlist for me for my run. I had no idea what was really on it. She was playing through so much music Friday night, I just didn’t know what made the cut and what didn’t. At about mile 1.5 I almost fell over laughing as a song she joked about putting on there, was actually put on there. Suddenly I heard…
“when you know the notes to sing….you can sing most anything….do…re..mi…”
For about half a mile I was singing at the top pf my lungs (because who can’t sing to this song) and skipping and frolicking as if I were on the grassy hills of Austria. Ridiculous. I am used to getting looks and comments when I run…I mostly ignore them…but this was looks and comments of a whole nutha level!
So now, I have skipped and frolicked, I am sunscreened up, the hills are growing by leaps and bounds(I swear they are bigger than last year), I have already stopped at a gas station at mile 1 to go to the bathroom(just like last year)…and I am at about mile 5 when I glance over and what do I see…
a cloud of pink is on my right. Yes folks, the freaking hula hooping walkers are starting to pass me by! It was here, I started to really get discouraged and I began to fight.
I looked at a girl who was trying to be encouraging, thanked her…then I cursed the hula hoops (not the people just the hoops) under my breath and sprinted to get ahead of them.
We kept up this little dance of going back and forth for about a mile or two, before they passed me and I just couldn’t sprint long enough to get a good lead on them.
I began counting the miles until I saw my fans/friends again. The hills felt obnoxiously bigger and longer than last year.
At various points I would run with a woman who was walking. She was awesome. She came with a friend and was supposed to be walking with her, but her friend kept ditching her, so she walked alone with an amazing attitude. She really kept me going at times because I would somehow catch her or she would catch me at a point where I really just wanted to be done and we would talk for a bit.
At about mile 7, I really was praying for mile 8 to come quick. My achilles was starting to hurt(never had that body part hurt before) and the last 2 aid stations had run out of water and cytomax. I was hot. Overheating I think and seriously needed water. I had some gatorade in my bottle but was nervous to drink that too fast. I had also been eating shot blocks like crazy and really just needed water to get rid of that sick, too sweet taste in my mouth. To pass the time, I talked to 2 ladies who were walking the course for a bit. Then I looked back and saw the official tale vehicle.
Crap! There aren’t that many people behind me if the tale vehicle is right there!!
I told the ladies I had to go, that as long as I wasn’t last, I could be ok…
I ran through a stretch of outdoor cafe areas that was full of people sitting, eating and watching the race. I was the only runner around and suddenly one person stood up and started cheering and yelling and before I knew it, all along both sides of the street, everyone was standing and cheering and shouting at me to keep going. I looked around and truly I was the only one around. I realized they were cheering for ME!!! I almost cried…and to push back the tears I started raising the roof and gesturing for more cheers…I had to make light or I would have seriously fallen down crying.
Everything hurt. I was so tired and I knew I just had to keep going. I was almost to mile 8…I would see my friends soon…At this point I am walking up the bigger hills and running everything in between. I could go faster that way.
Soon I looked up and I saw the most wonderful sight in the world. When you are out running and you feel physically awful and you are wondering if you can even finish or if you should finish, there is nothing better to see than…a friend. Aaron was there….ready to run with me. Thank God he had water in his bag…and was more than willing to share.
He checked in with how I was doing…and we ran. Soon Leann joined us with her camel back on, and I moved to her left and started drinking from her straw while we ran.
Leann took over the administering of my nutrition and hydration. She remembered that Ben had told me that I should be eating a shot block ever 15 minutes or so. I was NOT eating them that frequently any more. I like them but at this point I was so sick of them, it wasn’t even funny. They tasted far too sweet. At some point Aaron and Leann took over the carrying of my ipod, my hip pack and my water bottle.
I filled my water bottle with water from a hose at some point and every 15 minutes this girl was offering me a shot block and water. At mile 10 Aaron peeled off to go meet Jen at the finish line with her fresh t-shirt. So it was Leann and I from 10 on. I was ready to kill her and her shot blocks and her “encouragement” to keep running.
Now to her credit, I SUCK at communication during times like these. In my mind, I was doing all sorts of things. I was assessing my achilles for injury or just use pain. Since it was a new pain I was hesitant to push it too hard and risk blowing it out. I was also getting sick to my stomach from all the shot blocks and the water in my bottle was actually a really weak water/gatorade mix that was awful. So sweet Leann is just trying to get me to the finish line without me passing out and I am refusing her nutrition and hydration for perfectly valid reasons that I was not communicating to her. Nor was I communicating how sharp the pain was getting in my achilles.
We ran and walked for 2 more miles, mostly walking and slowly so. As we hit the 12 mile marker, we got stopped by a van. Yes a SAG van. I was too slow on the course. If I wanted to continue on I had to sign a waiver or I could get in the van and they would drive me to mile 13 and I could still cross the finish line. Neither option seemed good in my head.
All I remembered about mile 12-13 was that it was a long slow uphill battle with a final fast downhill into the finish line. I knew at my current pacing it would be another 30-40 minutes before I got to the finish line…and I knew that my achilles was hurting pretty bad. I did not know the course to go it alone and I did not know if I had it in me to go another 30-40 minutes. Leann believed I did. But I did not…and regrettably, I chose the van.
As soon as I got in and the doors closed I regretted my decision. I began to second guess myself big time and at the same time, I knew I had given it my all on that course. It was tough. Probably as tough as the River Bank Run last year, and I pushed through a lot of it when I really wanted to quit. So while I second guessed myself, I did not beat myself up.
At mile 13 I got out and hobbled my way to the finish line, with Leann and Aaron and Erin running along the fence cheering me on.I crossed the finish line, knowing I didn’t really finish with a deep sense of disappointment. But I didn’t linger in that space. I posed for post race pictures that seemed to be mandatory before they would let you into the area where they have the food…and I couldn’t wait to get there.
For the first time ever, I wanted food immediately following a run. I RARELY eat the post race food. This time, I did.
I got food, and drink and headed out to meet my friends and to rest and then find the other group of us.
While waiting to hear back from the other half of us, we sat on a curb, ate food and I talked to Coach…who completely understood the odd mixture of deep disappointment and pride in my accomplishment. It was good to talk to him.
Ben showed up and he helped me assess my achilles….then we got the phone call.
Holly called to tell us we had to meet her and the others by the ambulance on the bridge at the mile 13 marker.
We raced over there…(ok I tried to race over there) to find Mitch had passed out an hour after he finished his race and was being treated for cuts and scrapes from his fall. While scary, in the end he turned out to be ok…Thank God…
I limped for the rest of the day. We had pizza for lunch and sushi for dinner and hit downtown Nashville for a while before heading back to sleep.
I even limped the next 2 days…then I was all better. My pain over this race has long since ended. In fact it is far enough in the past for me to begin wondering and pondering where next year’s half marathon will be…we all insist it will NOT be Nashville but rather somewhere flat. However, there are groups of people getting ready to head into week-long retreats whose lives will be changed forever…and as their lives are changed, they will be refreshed to go be a catalyst for change in others lives…the kind of change that lasts forever…and that…my friends is worth running/limping/walking/crying/praying for!