Sunday, May 26, 2013

So Help Me God: CLE Marathon 2013- Part 3

We all have in our hearts some areas of unbelief. Let us say to the Lord: I believe! Help my unbelief.

Pope Francis tweeted this yesterday. Yes, even the Pope is on Twitter (so join if you haven’t already!). And yes, I follow the Pope. He’s dope. *Knee slap followed by over-exaggerated eye wink* I definitely put my belief to the test in this marathon.

When that alarm went off at 4:00am, I sprung out of bed. I got into my super cute Nike singlet and shorts, popped my little pony tail into a visor, and tied up my shoes. I felt excited and told myself I was only allowing positive thoughts in my head. Despite my personal fear, I was SO excited that my sister was going to be with me running her first marathon. My sister is my best friend, my rock, my confidant…my everything. Having her there was going to make it okay. That’s what I kept repeating to myself. 

So, my sis picked me up at 5:30 am and we headed downtown! We parked her car and decided to go on an easy run to the Brown’s Stadium. As we were running, my legs got that jittery feeling and I started to freak out. I was in tears and was so worried. If a simple warm up has me freaking out, how the heck am I even going to make it past 5K? My sister put me in my place, as she knows exactly how to, insisted that I was going to be fine and that it was in my head. It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear, and I started to calm down.
Pre-race with my sis! Mara-twins!

We used the rest room a few times, and then headed to the start line. We were assigned to separate corrals, but I NEEDED to start with my sister. I asked the security guy (okay begged…I think I said pretty please, LOL) to let my sister start up front with me. I received a BOLD “n-ah-n-ah NO!” from him. But, the good news was I was able to start back with her! We hung out, laughed at all of the crazy runners, and it really helped get my mind off my fear. As the clock got closer to 7am, I asked my sister to give me something to focus on if I got scared while running. First, she suggested the thick, oddly shaped mole on some guy's back standing in front of us. I asked her to give me another, LOL, and she said, “Whenever you feel like you’re going to pass out, just focus on the feeling of your feet hitting the ground.” And that is what got me through the marathon. Thank you so much, Kristin. I could NOT have made it beyond that start line without you and your wise advice. I love you so much.

I prayed that God would have an extra guardian angel available for my sister and me, and then the gun went off! I right away just started focusing on my feet. I also focused on the encouraging words of my dear friend and running buddy, Jen. She was SO confident in my ability to run a strong marathon despite what had happened, and believed in me when I lost all faith. Thank you so much, Jen. Your loyalty and kind heart will never go unnoticed by me. LOVE YOU! With Jen’s words in my head, I started out right around 7:30min/mi. This was more conservative than the 7:15min/mi I would need to break 3:10, but I was set to run what felt comfortable but still a decent pace.

Every single mile of the marathon was filled with fear and also exhilaration. I was having SO much fun running through the streets of CLE, but also incredibly paranoid that I wasn’t going to finish. Whenever those fears came into my head, I prayed and just focused on my feet…just like my sister said! The first half I was rocking an average 7:15min/mi pace, the weather was overcast with a comfortable breeze, and I was gaining confidence. I thought perhaps I may just surprise myself and not just finish…but pull off a P.R. for this one!

Gaining confidence at the mid-way point!
As I came to mile 16, the sun started to come out. I started feeling pretty sweaty…and at some points wasn’t sure if I was dripping sweat on my legs or peeing, LOL! I was sticking to the constant prayers and feet concentration, and suddently heard a volunteer YELL at me as I almost skipped a water station. He said, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?! IT’S 80 DEGREES AND A RED FLAG DAY! NO SKIPPING WATER STATIONS!” I obeyed, and grabbed two water cups! At that point, I started feeling the distance, the heat, and the overwhelming constant need to stay positive. I saw one of my favorite, inspirational running buddies, Rose on the course, who gave me encouraging cheers and totally lifted me up! Thank you SO much for that, Rose! Seeing you at that moment was perfect timing.

Feeling the HEAT
After I sucked down my final gel at mile 19, I said ADIOS to the time goal. It was SO hot, my legs were aching, and the most important goal I had throughout all of this was finishing. Annie and another student of mine came all of the way to Downtown Cleveland from Aurora the day after Prom to see me finish. I knew I could risk it by running at a hard pace, or slow down and just guarantee the medal that had become SO important and significant. I was talking to God just about the entire race. We talked it over, and I decided I needed to have faith in Him and myself that He was going to help me finish. There was no need to continue praying, God and I had this. I just needed to stay focused. With this mentality, I pretty much just jogged the last 6 miles. And those last six miles hurt. BAD. My feet were KILLING me for pounding on them so hard when I needed to take my mind off of my fear. My legs hurt. I wanted to throw up. I was dripping sweat. I was watching people pass me. I was watching people stop running and walk. I was watching people limp and drop out of the race. Those last six miles were brutal, to say the least.

Brutal finish!

But, as I came back downtown, rounded the corner and saw the Rock Hall…I knew I was golden. I turned off my Ipod, and heard the cheers of a friend of mine who is dear to me and brings out the best in all aspects of who I am. Jeness, your sweet,  free soul, loyalty, multi-faceted down-to-earth nature has been the best blessing in my life. I’m so lucky to have you as my friend!  It was such an awesome moment of triumph for me crossing that finish line. Knowing a friend who has become family to me was there to witness that moment was amazing. Thank you for always being there for me, Jeness. I LOVE YOU!

Caught me at the finish!!!
When I crossed the finish line, I threw my arms in the air and gave thanks to God. This was one of the all-time best moments of my life. Chills went down my spine and tears flowed down my cheeks. I can honestly that up until this moment, I have never experienced a true runner’s high.  It was a great, indescribable feeling. Everything fell into place! My commitment to Wigs For Kids- DONE!!! Plus, I CONQUERED MY FEAR!!! Despite all of those negative feelings hovering over me, I did it. But, I certainly didn’t do it alone! After getting my medal, I heard Annie and Luke cheering on the side. It just sealed the awesomeness into the whole experience. I ran over to them, climbed over the gate, and gave them the biggest hug. None of the things that I accomplished over the past few months for Wigs For Kids would have been possible without Annie. That busy December afternoon when I learned about her condition and the courage she had to represent all individuals with the same need, something in me ignited. I truly believe God talks to us in mysterious ways, and He was talking to me that day. Until that moment, it never occurred to me to donate my hair.  It also never occurred to me that I could raise as much money as I did. But I did both things, all while successfully conquering 26.2 miles of my 11th marathon, the CLE Marathon! I finished 3:23:07, 7:45min/mi, and was the 17th overall female!

All-time worse marathon finish line picture and all-time greatest marathon moment!

My Wigs For Kids Inspiration!
This whole experience shed light of the true kindness of others. The support that came from my family, friends, colleagues, students, and even people and organizations that I have no personal relation with was truly amazing. Whether it was through kind words, prayers, or monetary donations, none of this would have been possible without the help of others. Thank you SO much to all of you for everything. Most importantly, thank you for believing in me. God bless you all. :-)

So, where am I now? My feet were killing me for about 3 days straight early this week, but it was a constant reminder of what my sister did for me to help me finish the marathon. I embraced the pain! I will never be able to stop thanking you, Kristin, for what you did for me that day. I LOVE YOU and am SO proud of your accomplishment! She rocked her first 26.2 experience despite allergies, a bacterial lung infection, and falling at mile 22. She is all-around amazing, and my hero!

LOVED seeing her cross the finish line!! Big hugs and an awesome moment!!

Marathon #11 and Marathon #1 DONE!

After my feet and legs healed, I decided to make it official: I’m on a marathon training sabbatical. Indefinitely. This is a COMMITED break.  Not one of those “breaks” I’ve taken in the past. I am not sure I’ll get any medical answers regarding my passing out issue, but I’m seeing doctors and hoping for the best. In the meantime, I’ll be focusing on new adventures…whatever they may be! Traveling, biking, other charity activities, meeting a decent guy (…perhaps I’ll run into that ER doctor somewhere other than a hospital…), and getting other aspects of my life spiffed up! I don’t plan on discontinuing running all together unless medically advised to. However, I refuse to run alone until I get some medical answers.  I don’t’ want to take any risks. There is just too much to live for.  :-)

New hair, new MP! :-)

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