Ok, I hope this post title doesn’t sound like I’m bragging, but honestly those were the words that reverberated around my head all day on Sunday after the race. So yes! I totally finished the half-marathon and it was amazing! Better than amazing! It definitely earned a spot in my top 10 list of lifetime experiences!
My mom came down for the weekend to help out w/the race and help me celebrate my bday. It was beyond helpful having her with me! So that Steve and the girls could sleep in, she and I got up early and left the house at about 5:15 to make it to the race on time. I was worried about being really tired b/c I’m NOT a morning person, but honestly, the energy of the day, seeing all the runners together, and all the built up anticipation kept me awake and ready to go!
The race had about 200 participants and began at 7:30 on the beautiful campus of Western Carolina University. It was a little drizzly and chilly, so I started off keeping on a jacket to run. In the beginning everyone is kind of running together in a pack until about mile 1 or so when things start to spread out. I was definitely one of the slower runners and just tried to keep my normal pace, so as to not get too worn out before the end. Things rocked and rolled along just fine. Took what felt like the LONGEST bathroom break ever (just 4 minutes though!) at about mile 5. There was a little line and it took some effort to get my pants back on b/c I was so sweaty and it was humid- ha! But once I got running again everything was good until about mile 8. That’s when fatigue started setting in. We were running on a long stretch of road that ran alongside a river and somehow I always ended up by myself, with several ahead of me or several behind me. But honestly, that’s how I like it. Just me, the road, conversations w/God, my music, nature……don’t need much more.
Around this time (mile 8ish) a lot of people started to stop and walk a bit. Knowing that it’d be really hard for me to stop and then start again, I told myself I wasn’t allowed to stop until at least mile 10. So I just kept trudging along. The night before the race I intentionally read the book of Philippians (so motivational!) and this verse kept me going through miles 8 to 10.
When I hit mile 10 we were on a main highway type of road that was mostly uphill (ugh!), but once I saw that mile 10 marker I was so freakin’ happy and elated that I was actually still alive and running, that I got this huge burst of energy and decided I didn’t want to stop at all and just keep running through the whole race. So miles 10-13 were actually my favorite. I just remember praising God over and over in my head……for the gift of the race, for the beautiful day, for His creation, for my health, for the ability to run, for Him giving me the strength to keep going…….just so many amazing blessings. And that is something that I was most surprised by with the race (and my favorite part of all) – the beautiful communion I felt with the Lord during those 13 miles. I knew that if I completed the race, it would only be with Him by my side, pushing me along. And truly, He was there. Ever single step. At times it honestly felt like no one or nothing else in the world existed…..no other runners, no people giving me water along the way, no cars……just me and my Father in relationship together- encouragement, praises, longings, prayers……it was amazing.
And then to top it all off, on the very last quarter mile, my Ipod started playing one of the best songs, one that I had downloaded for the race – Sweetly Broken by Jeremy Riddle. And those words “At the cross you beckon me, you draw me gently to my knees, and I am lost for words, so lost in love, I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered“, all I could picture was the day would I would finish the real race and get to see my Jesus, face to face, get to fall in his arms, and let the brokenness of this world fall away and just be with him and praise him forever. And that’s what I remember about crossing the finish line. Finally! At 2 hours and 27 minutes. Just the feeling of praise to God for getting me through it, and the longing of getting to spend more time with Him, just like I did during those 2 and 1/2 hours. I know that might all sound so crazy and maybe not what a lot of people who have run a 1/2 marathon think or feel at the time. But it was for me. I was so nervous and worried about the physical part of it all, but that truly was not that bad. The spiritual closeness I felt w/God though- now that did surprise me, in such a good, good way!
So there you have it. My 1/2 marathon experience. Totally worth all the training. Wish I hadn’t been so worried about it and whining about it beforehand. Totally empowering. Such a gift. Would love to run one again one day (though not now!). 🙂 So here are some pics from the race:
stretching and getting ready
excited/nervous energy before the race. i am not really bow-legged like this, but i get awkward when i have to pose by myself in a picture. America’s Next Top Model I am not! 🙂
about to take off! i am somewhere buried in the middle-to-back area
2 hrs and 27 mins later! didn’t get an action shot of me crossing the finish line, so this was the next best thing!
actually this is me right after crossing the line- feeling wobbly and drinking the most heavenly water ever created! 🙂
of course i can’t have a post w/o my two cutie pies! this was of them waiting while i was out running
love this one! wonder what they were doing or talking about here. so funny!
last pic. love bailey’s face here!
So that’s the end of my story! Running a half was definitely an awesome way to start year 30 and I really hope it’s a sign of all the good things to come! I highly encourage anyone who’s interested to one day run a half. Seriously- if I can do it, anyone can do it! And I know what you’re thinking – no way! Not 13.1 miles! I actually still think that myself……like throughout the week I’ve stopped and been like “What?!!! I ran how far? And for how long???!!!”. But somehow with a little bit of training and lots of prayers, it happened. So you could do it too!! And if you do, please share w/me how it goes…..I’d love to hear!
And thank-you also for all the encouragement my family and friends gave me. Felt so good to have others believe in me, even when I was doubtful myself! 🙂 I am a lucky girl w/awesome loved ones!