On May 10th 2014 I did something that I never thought I would. I completed a Marathon. When I say I never thought I would do that, it was honestly not even on my radar at all. I have never considered myself a runner, jogger, or even much of a walker. I enjoy sports a lot and try to stay in shape, but running was just not on my agenda. I’m not sure I can pinpoint when I decided to do it, but I do know I like accomplishing things. Last year I completed a half marathon, and I figured, what the hay why not do a full one. It is not something I think I will do again in the near or even distant future, but it is something I learned a lot from. I’d like to share a few of my thoughts and experiences with it.
Shock and Awe
As I said before running was just not something I do, or did rather. But, I decided a year ago that running a half marathon seemed feasible. It was. I completed it without any problems. I was by no means competitive when it came to the race, but I didn’t come in last, so that’s something. On the course they provide water and Gatorade and some energy stuff (really sticky and goopy stuff). I stuck to water and Gatorade and had no real problems. I was tired at the end, but not wasted. I actually felt like I could run more, which might have been part of the weirdness that led me to go ahead and sign up for the marathon. Going farther than 13.1 miles proved to be an important lesson for me.
I had it all planned out. My parents live very close to a running path called The Centennial Trail in Spokane Washington. So, I spent the morning with them and planned to run that afternoon. I was going to run 2.25 miles out and then back and get a drink of water, then run another 2.25 miles out and then back to get a drink of water, repeating the cycle until I completed 17-18 miles. I didn’t make it. Water was simply not enough for my system to work that hard. I know there are some runners who can do that with no problems, I’m just not one of them. I made it back to my parents home after a little more than 16 and half miles. The last bit I was jogging so slow I should have just walked. But, I felt the need to finish it out running. Luckily I was at least aware enough that I knew not to push it any farther. I got home sat on the couch and promptly refused my mom’s kind offer of dinner, I felt like I was going to throw up. She immediately got concerned and shortly got me in to lie down. That is when the clammy cold sweat started going and the sick to the stomach feeling increased. I started shaking and my speech got a little slurred. I was headed into shock. I’m blessed to have parents who know what is what and they took care of me appropriately (since I had so miserably failed at doing that). I made it through the experience okay but it was certainly a wake up call for me.
Lesson learned: I have limitations and if I am going to try to overcome them I absolutely need help. From then on I started paying more attention to my nutrition before after and especially during a long run. I got myself some of those sticky gooey energy packets and tried them out. They became a good companion for me. I followed the recommendations for use and found it to be beneficial. I also continued to rely on the help of others who knew more than I did and made it through a couple of other draining though not shocking experiences. I paid more attention to my system and responded more appropriately.
The Witch Doctors
I have an amazing and fun family. That starts with amazing and fun parents. They have always been there for me. They were very instrumental in helping me complete the marathon. The last several years they have been very into learning about and sharing about essential oils. I was a perfect candidate for their expertise in working with sore muscles and building up sustainability. I jokingly called them my witch doctors as they used their various brews on me. Truth is, it totally helped. After the marathon I had some difficulty getting out of the car and walking, but within the next couple of hours I was actually feeling well enough to go chaperone a dance for my young women.
Lesson Learned: Your parents never stop being your parents. They continue to show me such compassion and are there for me whenever I need them. At the very end of the race my mom was there jogging along side us and taking pictures. And my dad was just across the finish line, so I ended the race with a big ol hug from him. I’m very blessed to have the parents I do.
Angels to Bear Me Up
I decided that I wanted to have purpose in the race. So every half mile I dedicated the run to someone. I started with my nieces and nephews, then my parents, siblings and in-laws, then for my young women. I am so glad that I did. It was a unique experience. When you are stretching your body to its limits you have a tendency to tap into the spiritual side of things. That, I think, is why fasting can be such an effective form of worship. As I ran that half-mile I would ask God to help me see those individuals as He sees them. Starting with the kids I had sweet and cute memories that popped into my head. I came to understand that He sees them the way I do, just to a greater amount. He loves them and they make Him smile. I felt that about everyone. Getting through the last half especially was difficult. I began talking about these loved ones out loud which ending up not just helping me but also my running buddy. The love that I felt for all of them really did give me the strength I needed to continue on and finish the race. They were like my angels who kept me going.
Lesson Learned: God loves who I love, way more than I can comprehend. Knowing that He loves us is amazing. My emotions and spiritual feelings were certainly heightened during the run. It was a great blessing for me to feel that. We love God first and He expands our ability to love others. Love really does bear us up. We can be strengthened by that love, I certainly was and am.
Someone Who Has Gone Before and Knows the Way
My training/running buddy was my Uncle Myron. He also happens to be my boss. Our training jogs often became our unofficial office staff meetings as we would discuss the needs of our clients and where the company was headed. It was fun bonding with him through all of that. Myron is more than just my boss or uncle. He is quite a bit younger than my mother and so when we would spend time with him growing up he sometimes almost felt like an older brother. I have thought that about him for a while, but as I was training and especially during the marathon I became even more aware of a special bond that we have. He had run a marathon before. So, I ended up relying on his knowledge and experience to help me through the shocking/draining experiences and getting through those long hours of training and of course for the race itself.
Lesson Learned: Having an Older Brother Who Knows the Way is a Life Saver. Myron probably would be a little chagrined at the comparison, but he reminded me of The Savior. He is our Older Brother who knows the way and how to get us to the end of our race. The more we rely on Him the more successful we can be.
The Last .2
I had gone from training in the super cold (I jogged out in single digit temperatures) and snow, to training on a Mexican beach (funnily enough just a few weeks after the super cold run), and it came down to that last .2. I have heard that the last .2 is very important to marathon runners because they want to make sure people know just how long they have run, more than 26 miles. As I thought about those loved ones each half mile I decided that the last .2 I would run for me and to ask The Lord to let me know how He felt about me. I was quite exhausted by the end, and had done a fair amount of walking by that point, but it felt important to run that last little bit. As I rounded the corner I ran and asked The Lord to let me know how He felt about me. I was overwhelmed with a sense of love as I pictured The Garden of Gethsemane where He took upon Himself our every pain and suffering. The feeling was quite intense and as my emotions were already close to the surface I shed a few tears (I guess I hydrated well enough :)
Lesson Learned: We are Loved. The most important lesson of all.
It was a great experience. I am so grateful for the support I received and the love that I felt and continue to feel. I am truly blessed. I’m not sure that I am going to repeat the experience again any time soon. But, I know it was a great experience for me and I am glad I did it. 26.2!