Tuesday, October 20, 2009
one sweet day!
Okay, it's been a little over a week since I finished the Chicago Marathon. I have finally had time to let that event sink into my head, heart, and well... find it's way out of my sore muscles :) It's still hard to talk about because I don't know what people want to hear, how much they want to hear, and if they really care to sit through my endless words about this amazing day :) You see, with another marathon runner I could go on for hours about this experience. With a truly interested person I could go on for at least 30 minutes about this. With your average person I could sum it up in a few sentences if needed. It's been funny the different reactions I've gotten from people since I've done this. Some are very interested and want every detail. Some want a quick "it was good' answer and some I can see on their face as I begin to go in depth how they wish hey hadn't opened this topic to go down. So... I guess take your pick... read the short answer found in the first paragraph or keep reading to get my full reflection (or part of it!) from one sweet day!!!
How was the marathon? To be honest... it was awesome, hard, spiritual, fun, crazy, and pretty darn amazing. The day itself was a mixture of nerves, perseverance, laughter, joy, friendship, pain, encouragement, and simply just awesome. Oh, and of course a lot of running :) I ran with great people, for a great cause, had friends and family to cheer me on in a way I haven't experienced before, and drew near to our Lord. It was a really sweet day!
Some details from that day...
Oh, how do I begin? First of all, I stayed downtown in a hotel with some friends and we woke up at 4am to start getting ready. I had my ritual toast with PB & Jelly sitting in the bathroom of my hotel room because it was the warmest area of our room and I was freezing. My friend Becky had made me a book of quotes, verses, and notes from friends & family back home. Dave had written a card out for me and I spent my morning breakfast time reading these encouraging words from people I love. What a way to start the day! Once we were ready we met a group of our teammates downstairs and made the mile walk to the race. It was pitch black and I was filled with excitement and a little bit of nerves! The city was awake for 5:30 in the morning!
We gathered at the World Vision tent for a big group picture and prayer. We were all pretty giddy at this point and walking in a blur towards the start line. Coach Don had warned us about getting to our start corrals in time. The crowd was insane and we found ourselves jumping the fence to get into the start area!! oops. First time marathoners for sure!!! We had layered our clothes and by this point I peeled off the pants and left them with the thousands of clothing items on the side of the start corrals. They pick up all these clothes for the homeless...kinda cool! I remember hearing the gun go off... and then standing there. We stood still for 15 minutes and then we started to slowly move. We were packed in there like cattle!!! Our group had about 11 of us at this point and keeping us together was tricky! The first 3 miles I do not even remember. It happened so fast. I barely looked up to see where I was going as I was trying to not trip on the people in front of me or the clothes they were throwing off in front of me. I first remember seeing the Boelts and then the Garvin's and Goetz's. Oh man, it was then I started to realize we were in the marathon!! (Oh and I don't want to forget Danielle about biffing it when she saw Matt!! Sorry Danielle, but too darn funny! She gave us a good laugh!)
The first 12 miles or so went so fast. I felt like I'd only ran about 3-4 miles and hoped this adrenaline and energy would stay through out. The people were just crazy! Thousands yelling for you as you passed and sea to sea of people on both sides. Angie was Miss Popularity in our group... everyone yelled for Ang! It became a funny joke towards the end! At mile 11 we made a long stop at a water stop and my body started to become cold... I finally used this time to look around me. I couldn't believe all I saw! So many people running for different causes. I loved reading the different shirts and reasons for this race. I saw grandmas hug their grand babies and kids hold up signs that simply read "go Mom". I saw people running for lost friends and family and some running in costumes. What a parade of people we must have looked like. I'm pretty sure I was brought to tears at least 5 times! One of the best was seeing a woman run to the open arms of her husband and he just held her for a long time and then politely squeezed her gu into her mouth. Oh, sweet moment (for a runner anyway :) I was close enough to hear him say to her "great job honey, great job". She was running for her mother and it appeared she had died this last year. Amazing strength from so many out there.
Around mile 13 I saw my own cheering section. Dave, Jaxon, and good friend Mark were waiting for us! I was excited to see them and perfect timing. I was just realizing how far I was running and the boost of encouragement from them was just what I needed. As I ran, part of what kept me going was knowing I would eventually see them at some point. Their looks gave me everything I needed for the next few miles. Jaxon's hug was the best and I was soaring after that. By this time our group had cut down and we had about 8 of us left. Around mile 16 to 18 I really started to feel like my body was noticing what was going on. The water stops were great and we came prepared with our gu, which was doing its job, but the undeniable tiredness started to set in a bit on the ole' leg muscles. We had fun as we ran along... stopping for pictures at some of the picture posts, chatting just a bit, cheering on our fellow marathoners, seeing some people from our team, seeing our ever so awesome cheerleaders from OHC, and taking time to pray for my sponsors. I chose about 3 miles to do this and it was such a good time with God. I was blessed with so many financial supporters and raised over $1000! Part of my journey included them and I was humbled as I prayed and thanked God for their sacrifice through financial gifts to World Vision.
By mile 20/21 I started to feel the physical part of my body get weary. My group running was down to 6 and we really leaned on one another during this time. By this point we began our final few miles mentally in what I call a "high risk" stage. We were high risk to take the nose dive into negative thoughts and crabby attitudes you might say :) Again, I was encouraged from the words I read this morning as they came back through my mind, the words of my running buddies and their smiling faces, the constant cheering crowd, and a new respect for what it means to persevere. Never have I experienced anything this physically draining. And I've had two babies! Mentally I had to push myself to stay focused... "strong hearts, strong mind, strong body" kept rolling through my head. Prayer was falling off my lips with every step. Tears were just a second away at times. But, through all this hard physical pain and mental toughness... I felt this sort of joy that was jumping out of my chest. It's hard to explain but it's one of the coolest things I've ever experienced. Ever. Seeing Dave, Jaxon, and Mark around mile 23 was a huge point for me... their smiling faces just refueled me every time. I loved it when we saw the Patterson's, Davis family, Garvins, Goetz's, Tricia's mom and sis, Kallie's friends, Boelts, Teri Williams, Anderson's, Shaun Chestnut, Natalie Brown, and the other OHC fam that cheered their hearts out. As we finally made our way to mile 25 I was beyond words. We decided to stay together, the 6 of us. We carried each other up that horrible 1/2 mile up hill at mile 26 and seeing the finish line was like seeing the sun in the middle of winter. Beautiful, wonderful, awesome. Crossing the line together felt so good and I could not believe we had just ran the race of our life!! Chicago Marathon was amazing. I can't say it enough. The next couple hours were filled with meeting up with friends and family and sharing a special time with our team. I can not write all the little details that happened along the coarse of 26.2 miles... but know they are what made the day unique and special. This experience was so good for me... not just the marathon, but the whole training experience in itself. I love the relationships built during this time, the growth that happened in my heart, and the journey of being coached physically and spiritually by Coach Don. Will I run one again? Probably :) I think I'm hooked!