So there I was, mile 11 of my first Half Marathon, and yep you guessed… I was crying. I don’t want to ruin my Manly image so I will say that it was just a little, and in fact it may not have been crying, I may have just had a little bit of eye sweat, but there was definitely some emotional upheaval running through my well toned runners physique.
So have I ever mentioned before, that I never really did like running? When I was in middle school, Mr Higley, my PE teacher, liked to make us run a mile. It was hot, I had to run around the track 4 whole times, and I pretty much always got lapped by the entire class, including that kid who always managed to do the first lap in the wrong direction and had to start over in the right direction. Yep even he lapped me. Things got a little easier when I hit eighth grade, not because I was faster or better at running a mile, but because usually around the beginning of lap 2 I would get this sharp shooting pain through the top of my right foot. It really hurt, and I never figured out what it was, but the teacher never made me finish the mile after that.
So here I am 16 or so years later, and I’m starting to make up for lost time just a little. I have to add a little disclaimer here. I’ve never been athletic. I never played football because I was scared of being tackled. I never played basketball because everyone was two feet taller then me and you can only run between someones legs so many times before they catch on. I did like volleyball but could never hit the ball anywhere but my own face. And yeah, I had great hopes of being a pickleball champ but never quite caught on to that one very well.
So if we fastforward back to the present and then rewind back a little over a week to the morning of September 1st. The Pocatello Marathon… I signed up for the half on that day. It was 5 am, I had gotten 4 and 1/2 hours of sleep and I was up eating my bagel with peanut butter and bananas and I was nervous. And you know me, I tend to spend a little too much time on facebook. One my friends, who happens to be a superstar runner and who was running the marathon that morning posted this comment, “For all my friends running the Pocatello Marathon tomorrow, whatever your event, I wish you success and remember…Run like hell and get the agony over with! See you at the finish line!” So I had already thought it over some but that comment solidified my goal of a sub 2 hour half marathon. My quickest half marathon time prior to that was about 2 hours and ten minutes. So as I finished my bagel I glanced at good old facebook one more time and this same friend posted one more comment, which became my mantra for the day, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31″
So I went to the marathon with that thought in my mind, I had trained, I had prepared, I had worked hard at making my body healthy, and I felt like I had done all that I could, and I knew that I could do my best and the rest was up to the Lord.
When I got to the starting line I decided to find a pace group. I found Rachel, the pacer for a 2 hour half marathon, and knew that if I stayed with her and the pacing group I could achieve my goal of a 2 hour half. This was a great decision, Rachel was awesome and it was great to run in a group. We started off at a good pace and the race seemed to go by pretty quick. About mile 9 and 1/2 I was feeling pretty good and decided to pull ahead and see if maybe I could eek a time a little lower than 2 hours. I ran with someone else from our group for about a mile and we picked up the pace a little. Finally I pulled away from him and went for it. For about 9 miles I had been running a steady pace of 9 minutes per mile, which is great for me at a long distance. I finished mile 11, looked down at my watch and I was running a 7 minute and 37 second mile. I’ve never ran a mile that quick and it was at that point that I realized that I was being given a gift, and was running on strength beyond my own. And yep, I was crying. It’s hard to run when you’re crying, that whole tightening of the throat thing kind of makes it hard to breath. So I sucked it up, picked up the pace just a smidge and booked it to the finish line. I beat my goal of 2 hours by coming in at 1:54:04. It was truly a gift from God.
I know what you’re thinking, now he’s going to get cheesey and bring out the life Metaphors… Well Isn’t this whole story an extremely obvious metaphor for life? We WILL hit points when we know that we just can’t handle it, we aren’t strong enough. But if we give it our all then we will be given the help we need and push through that wall, climb that mountain, beat that challenge, and Keep Running!
And yes it is okay to cry…