Monday, May 3, 2010

Not According to (My) Plan

The pre-race strategy was to drive up to Prairie du Chien the night before, pick up the race packet, drive the race route to get a look at it, and eat some spaghetti at Pizza Hut (the kids' reward for sitting through the drive two days in a row).

Everything went according to plan. Except for the driving the race route part and eating some spaghetti part. The course map didn't have street names on it, and not all of the arrows were painted on the roads yet (due to the rain that day). Oh, and Pizza Hut was booked solid and they were out of spaghetti.

About an hour behind schedule, we were finally seated and waiting for Book-it Pizzas and my corkscrew pasta (hey, a carb's a carb...I am not picky if I'm not the cook!!). We got home and went to bed later than I wanted to, but it probably didn't matter because I doubt I would have slept much anyway.

Up at 5:30, prayer time, and then wake-up-the-kids-and-drag-them-to-the-Suburban time. We stopped for some Eclipse gum (my wonderful husband bought me) and made it to the race in plenty of time. Fifteen whoppin' minutes early!

So things weren't going according to my plan, but that's really okay. Because if I arrived any earlier, there would have been more time to get nervous and throw up. I joined the back of the pack for the National Anthem, and next thing I knew, we were walking through the gate like a herd of cattle.

Things weren't going according to plan. I thought I would start out the race at an easy jog, but it was more like a halted walk through a turnstile (that's what it felt like, one of those "doorbuster sales" or something).
I don't have many pictures of the actual race, because I was kind of busy running 13.1 miles. Oh, wait, I forgot--here's one of 2 of my favorite cheerleaders!

Like I said, the run didn't go according to plan. Given the fact that I have some serious knee strain and a deep heel bruise, I figured I would be hurting by mile two and was just praying to finish without having to stop and walk too much. But God doesn't work according to our plans. He does what HE wants to, and He did it again on Saturday. I talked to Him pretty much the whole way through, reading the Bible verses I had written all over my arms, and soaking it all in. I thoroughly enjoyed most of the experience, taking my husband's advice to LIVE LIFE and trust my training. God did the rest. Because I don't know how else to describe it, as I could hardly walk for 48 hours afterwards...God made it happen. He literally carried me through that run. There were so many people He worked through, too...the people who drove along and blasted music from their vehicles, held up signs and cheered for us...the people who stood along the roadsides and encouraged us with "Good job, runners! Keep it up!"....the volunteers who offered us cups of Gatorade or water....the volunteers who stopped traffic when we crossed the main street....the wonderful race director who took time out of her day to call me and encourage me two days pre-race and one day post-race...I can't adequately describe the positive energy that came from this whole half-marathon experience. I know that this sounds really cheesy or hokey, but praise God for it all. I had very little knee or heel pain until about mile 11, and by then I just let momentum carry me through. It was not a picnic by any means...I felt like quitting a few times, but I just kept singing songs in my head, praying for members of my family at each mile, and saying His words to myself...and we got through it. Together!
I absolutely hate this picture, but it is the only one of me actually running, so I have included it for posterity. I like how the kids are in the front of it, watching as I made my way through the finish line. Please don't call me Thunder Thighs (although I wouldn't blame you if you did); these are second-hand shorts one size too big (with huge pockets full of Kleenex)! By the way, I learned very quickly that I am not "in" when it comes to running gear. I have the shoes, but that's about it. My shoes were way too long for women; if you look at the picture above you can see everybody wears 'em SHORT (as in thigh-chafing short) or at capri length. And my running shirt is all wrong. Cotton is a big faux pas in the running world; you're supposed to wear that wick-away stuff. Maybe next time.

Did I say "next time"?? I can't believe I'm saying that, but I definitely want to train for another one some day. I don't know how, when, or where (especially since the lower half of my body feels less than pain-free right now)...but after crossing that finish line and surpassing my goal (I was going for 2 hours and got in 3 minutes shy of that), I really wonder what we could do with healed knees and heel!

Aside from being another hideous picture of me, this moment is a blur to me. A few seconds after finishing, Linda (the race director) put a finisher medal around my neck, hugged me, and asked me how I felt. At this point, fatigue and pain were moving in, and my brain was moving out. I don't remember what I said to her, but I vaguely remember hugging the kids and hearing them congratulate me. Somebody said something about "Hey Mom! We saved a doughnut for you!!" Food was really the last thing on my mind at that point. I just wanted WATER. (Not that see-through Gatorade they kept pushing at us during the route. I loved the volunteers, but dang I wish the Gatorade had been colored and distinguishable from the water...because it tasted horrible and got my arms and hands all sticky. Try running with a cup of Kool-aid and you'll get what I mean.)

Here's another Amy who actually knows how to run and look the part while doing it! She ran an amazing 1:37, twenty minutes faster than me and easily good enough to take our age division and the women's first place overall.

This guy (from Neenah or somewhere over in the eastern part of the state) won the whole deal with a mind-blowing 1:16. That is 13.1 miles in ONE HOUR and SIXTEEN MINUTES. That's like 5-minute, 50-second miles. HELLO!!! I remember seeing him only once, and that is only because the police car was escorting him at the front of the race, and the 2nd 4 miles of the course were a circle back from the first 4 miles. (I was on mile 2 and he was on mile 5 or something. Insanity.) I'm thinking that if I want to run that fast, I should get some huge leg tattoos like his, or maybe some of those nifty compression sleeves? I bet his calves and shins were thanking him after the race!

We got 4th place in my age division (35-39). 32 seconds behind the 3rd place finisher! Argh!! If only I had run a little harder, a little sooner at the end...but oh well. He still surpassed my plans, that's for sure.
My "pit crew" as another mom runner called them. Aren't they fantastic?? I just felt lucky to be a part of the experience and to have the full support of Mark and the kids. They have had to put up with late breakfasts, crabby gimpy Mom, and a boring awards ceremony. But I think they liked it. I was proud to show them another side of me.

Here is the snack tent, post-race. Bananas, bagels, and Cliff bars--oh my!! Paige, Shae, and Wynne seemed to think they could help themselves to the Walgreens water bottles and any snacks. (Uh, gee, kids, I think this stuff is for the 300 people with numbers on them.)

This is a whole crop of people running for a family, for some reason. Many of them ran in the 5K, but there were definitely some contenders in the half. I passed one of the girls, and she passed me about 4 miles later. (That's one thing I didn't want to let happen; pass somebody who later goes on to pass me. Next time...)

This is Linda the race director. She is fab 50, if anyone ever was. She has competed in the Boston Marathon and several other half- and full marathons. She created this race in Prairie du Chien and has drummed up fantastic support through sponsors, vendors, and repeat runners. She led dozens of volunteers in hydrating, cheering for, feeding, and decorating all of the entrants. She went out of her way to talk with me at packet pick-up and gave me two books she has written. She is undergoing shoulder surgery and couldn't run the half this year, but she still did the 5K. I think she is AWESOME. Thanks, Linda!!

Post-race mission: find the tooth that Daddy just yanked out of Shae's mouth!

Found it!

Even the t-shirt surpassed my expectation! A fancy schmancy tech-shirt! And the medal, well it's pretty cool to me.

But above all, God worked it out for His glory. I tried hard to represent Him well, smiling and thanking each person who worked at that race and gave of their time to make our run a little easier. When I say "God bless you" to somebody, I really mean it. It's not up to me to grant God's blessings to others, so I don't want to take the expression lightly.

I learned so much about myself, my capabilities, goal-setting, and living in the moment. I thank God for allowing me to be a part of this time!

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.--2 Corinthians 12:7-10


Blogger Astrid said...

Amy...YOU DID IT!!!!!!

I still can't believe you ran the whole thing in less than two hours. I'll be lucky to complete it in 2.5 hours!

I hope you're getting your well deserved rest. Please don't be hard on yourself- you did an amazing thing- you accomplished a Goal!

May 3, 2010 at 12:09 PM  

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