Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. John 13:16
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16
Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Proverbs 3:16
I’ve never been a numbers person (which seems kind of silly since my job requires me to deal with numbers on a daily basis) until yesterday. Yesterday was amazing. Life-changing. Remarkable. Simply the best day I’ve had in a really really long time. For the first time in my life, I reached a HUGE goal that I set for myself and worked really hard to attain. I owe it to my hard work, dedication, support from family & friends, love, and most importantly, a lot of conversations with God. God showed up in big ways yesterday. Everyone knows that I ran the Mercedes Half Marathon yesterday. It’s been a goal of mine that has spent 10 years in the making and I am so proud to say that I’ve finally accomplished. I hate to compare my stats to that of the great Tim Tebow, but it’s completely ironic how numbers and God can present themselves in a way that cannot go unacknowledged.
I battled with shin splints in my last week of training. Luckily I’ve been surrounded by an amazing support system with some true professionals among the mix. Tape, ice and rest were my friends during the last week. Holly assured me that no training the week before was not going to affect my ability or fitness level. And I trusted her. I’ve never thought shin splints were anything to get to worked up over, but apparently I was wrong. To run with severe shin splints, you risk getting stress fractures in your tibia. Honestly though, even with that risk, as long as I crossed the finish line on Sunday, it was a risk I was willing to take. Stupid. Fortunately though, I can report that I felt strong for the entire race and other than some normal achilles tendon pain and arch pain for not wearing my orthotics, I felt great!! Even with some fatigue near the end, there wasn’t a moment that I felt like I couldn’t finish.
Let me first say that the Mercedes Marathon is a well thought out course that is extremely well organized. This year was completely sold out and in the Half Marathon alone, there were 4000 runners. Amazing. It was FREEZING COLD (literally), but there was no lack of volunteers. Every one of the 11 water stations and 3 or 4 GU stations along the way were full of people passing out water, Powerade, GU, bananas, oranges, and even at the end there was pickle juice and gummy bears. Those people were amazing. So here’s a breakdown of my miles as I remember them.
Mile 1, 2, & 3: Yes, I’m grouping these babies together because these 3 miles are the most difficult for me. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am never more pressured to run fast than I am when I run with a large group of people. Holly had already prepped me prior to the race that we were running our pace. No one else’s. And we did great. Even though I HATE the first 3 miles, I felt good. Never once did I question why I was doing it, which is a huge feat. The infamous balloon lady hugged and kissed me as I wrapped up mile 3 and congratulated me on my first half. It was so encouraging. We also met our friend we dubbed, GU-and-Go Guy, who kept me entertained the entire way with his quick wit and super speedy walk. He educated me about the taste of “papercup water” and how yellow powerade was a once a year kind of drink for him. At mile 3 he was ready for GU and once he got it, he was gone. We also came a long the “Soul Sisters” who later dubbed Holly and I as their “benchmark” for the race which meant that as long as they were within eyesight of us, they knew they were keeping their pace.
Mile 4, 5, & 6: I. FELT. FANTASTIC!! I was super chatty, which I’m sure Holly was not used to. I was warmed up and ready to run! We cut through my old stomping grounds at UAB and I was able to talk about a few of the buildings that were part of my every day 7 years ago: Campbell Hall, The Education Building, The Allys Robinson Stephens Center, my old dorm room at Rast Hall. It was so good to reminisce and share. Another great feature of the Mercedes this year was the “track your runner” via text. they had 3 different chip readers a long the way that would send texts to your family so they would know where you were and how your pace was. At mile 5 my mom got the text that I was on target to finish up in a 3:09 time frame. Way fast for me! But proof that I was feeling good!
Mile 7, 8, & 9: Oh the Hills! Not quite as diabolical as they were once described to me and Holly, but this is where our climb began. I still felt great, but there were moments when I questioned why it was so difficult and it wasn’t until we got a major downhill that I realized that I had been climbing the entire time. Those hills were tricky and played a lot on my psychological health at this point in the race. Another amazing thing happened at about mile 8. We were lapped by the first place runner in the Marathon. Can we say FAST? The guy had his own entourage. A police SUV in the front and a police SUV in the rear and his own personal cyclist to accompany him. 5 minute miles. He was running so fast that I couldn’t even cheer him on before he was gone. I was enthralled. That was the moment the marathoners stole me heart. They were incredibly inspiring. Until you witness it for yourself, you can’t even imagine. I made sure that I cheered on every marathoner that passed me until I crossed the finish line myself.
Mile 10, 11, 12 & 13: Fatigue. Mile 10 was the last of our downhills, and uphills for that matter. I remember it being a beautiful mile. All of the history in the homes and parks of this mile were very prominent. Mile 11, 12, and 13 were flat and I learned that I’m pretty slow on a flat surface. No uphill to make me work, and no downhill to give me ease. Flat surface is all you. I was tired. Parts of my body were wearing down and I could feel it, but I still felt strong enough. I just kept pushing. Every step was a step closer. The marathoners that were passing me by and the volunteers holding motivational signs gave me the fuel I needed. One sign I remember most distinctly was a huge “Hello, my name is:” sticker/poster. It read: “Hello, my name is: Perfect Stranger. I’m proud of YOU!” God, it was good and needed.
Mile 13.1: The easiest part. Adrenaline made me run it through. I saw my husband at my first turn into the chute. I blew him a kiss. He gave me that extra push. And just as I neared the finish line, I saw my family. My girls. My mom. My step dad. My mother-in-law. They mean the world for being there with me at such a pivotal moment in my life. I am forever grateful for their love and support.
Holly and I spent the weekend in Birmingham making the most out of my first Half Marathon. We talked a lot about our struggles, our triumphs, learning from others’ mistakes and learning from our own. I feel like in a lot of ways this weekend was somewhat of a graduation for me. We have literally spent every week for the past 7 months preparing for my achievement yesterday. I have made some amazing friends along the way and inspired a few of my own. I will NEVER forget my journey with Holly. And even though she’s setting me free to conquer new goals on my own and given me the tools and knowledge to be a success, I know she’ll always be there if and when I need her. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m not giving up.
So, this is my Thanksgiving. God chose to give me life and I’m here to live it. Not only live it, but make the most of it, respect it, and take care of it. I am no greater than my creator, but I am forever grateful for the life I’ve been given by Him. For the love. For the support. For the chances. For the opportunity. This is the Legacy I will leave behind.
|Me and Holly Post Race.|