Monday, January 19, 2015

Crossing your finish line



On Saturday I participated in and completed my 9th Half Marathon.   I will be honest, I did not prepare the last 6-8 weeks like I should have to feel physically prepared for this race.  I did it solo, and created my strategy the night before.  I knew I was not ready to run the entire race (I have been using the walk/run method for years.) However, I really want to beat my best time of 2h49m.  So I decided I would run for 2 songs, walk for 1.  If I felt stronger and could go farther at any given point, I would do so.

That strategy served me well.  I was so happy to see that the first 6 miles were done in under 1h 10m.  At around mile 10, my calf muscles began their usual behavior of tightening up.  I stopped to retie my left shoe (as my toes were going numb too,) and stretched for a moment on the curb.  It did not feel like it helped my calves much, but I know it probably did.

I got a little lost on the race route after passing mile 12.  I wasn't alone, two other women were just lost as I was.  But we found our way back on the route.

Soon after, I came upon a slight curve in the road, and there was a race volunteer there yelling, "after you pass the curve you will see the finish line." Sure enough, there it was... waaaayy down there! :)

I was approaching the 13 mile marker, when a man in running clothes (but no medal around his neck,) approached me from the curb and said, "You've got this! You can do it." I yelled, "Thanks so much!" But inside, I was really hurting.  My right quadricep was shaky.  I have never felt that before.  It made me nervous to even take another step for fear my leg would give out.  But I kept going.  Slowly.  The man did not give up on me.  He asked me, "Want me to run it in with you?"

I blinked.  I looked at him.  I sized him up.  I figured if he had just run this race, he finished a long time ago, since he did not even look sweaty any more.  Or, maybe he was a running coach.  Who knew? But I sure did appreciate his kindness and offer.  So I said, "Yes! But I cannot run all that fast right now." I told him about my leg.  He told me to hang in there, and that once I crossed the finish line, I could give in to the pain.  That boosted me up, and we ran towards that line.  Once I was within 20 yards of the finish, I spotted my sweet hubby just to the right of the finish line cheering me on, and taking photos.  I told the man, "Oh, there is my husband!" My finish line angel said, "I will let him take it from here," and he was gone.

I crossed the finish line in 2h42m57s, 7 minutes off my best time.  I was/am thrilled! But what really touched me and stuck with me was the kindness of that stranger.  He didn't know me from Adam.  But he probably could see the struggle I was experiencing in my face when I rounded that curve.  He could have easily ignored it, or just felt bad for me.  But he didn't.  He stopped, and offered to help.  In doing so, he inspired me and helped me dig deep to cross that finish line strong.

I guess there is a part of me that still does think of myself as a "runner." I don't know why.  I try very hard not to compare myself to others.  I know I am not all that fast.  I know that to many 2h42m seems super slow.  But, five years ago, I could not even fathom running for 1 minute, let alone running over 75% of a half marathon.  I am so happy I chose to try.  I am happy with this pace, this experience, and this lifestyle.  The people that I have met have proved time and time again, that running is for everyone.  Everyone belongs and is welcomed.  Runners get a thrill out of seeing others meet and surpass their own goals.  Runners specialize in support and encouragement of other runners, no matter what their pace.

I want to be like that man was to me for you.  I want to "run it in with you," even just virtually, here through this blog and on facebook.  I want you to know, that I believe in you and your capability.  Will there be struggles? Oh yes there will be.  But if you have ever overcome any obstacle in your life, you know how great it feels when you have accomplished something you never thought you had the strength to do.  It's the same with crossing a finish line.  There is nothing in the world like it.

I know that God calls us to step outside of our comfort zone.  Jesus did not play it safe.  He lived a life of extravagant generosity, friendship, forgiveness, and love.  God is calling us to do the same.  He wants us to experience great things.  But we have to take the first steps and put in the work.  He will guide us, supply us, strengthen us, and fortify us.

I want to hear from you.  Do you have a health/fitness related goal for this year? I want to know, so I can support you and cheer you on as you cross your own finish line.

Your Sole Searching Sister,
Julie

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