I ran a half marathon. Like, running a half marathon for real. ME.
That sentence is quite unbelievable for this beginner runner.
Just a year ago, I ran my first 5k.
I have learned to love running. I’ve been thankful for every mile pounded out on the pavement because of what it has taught me about myself and about life.
We run and continue to run for so many reasons… I genuinely love going out for a run with Jeremy.
But running an official race is another ball game all together. It has a much different feel than just “hey, let’s go for a run!”
I’m not an athlete. Other than my short little glimpses of the “sport” life back in 7th grade when I attempted cheer leading, basketball and volleyball, I’ve never played team sports or been involved in athletics of any kind.
I really like sitting on the bench and cheering from the sidelines.
Generally, my idea of physical exertion is getting up to choose the next book I want to read or moving my lounge chair to a better position in the sun.
Sad, I know.
I’m happy to watch someone else play.
But this time it was me.
Inside the race start line. Me.
I had the bib number pinned to my running top.
I stood there, awkwardly trying to drink a red bull that I didn’t like, thinking of all the many, many reasons that running should not work for me.
Reviewing the things stacked against me.
I’d hurt my foot the day before while walking 2 miles home from picking up our bibs… wearing cute little flats. the day before a race. Total newbie mistake. A mistake that could cost me the race.
I’ve been battling some MS-like symptoms again. Getting a few miles into a run and feeling my legs going out from beneath me. Forcing my mind to tell my legs to do what they’ve been training to do. As an outside road runner, I battle the differing temperatures outside. The cold weather makes my hands and feet go numb and turn white. The warm weather makes my core temp rise which sets off a whole series of weakness, tingling and numbness through my legs.
This race day would be the warmest day yet this spring. And I had no idea how my body would handle the heat.
I’m gluten free. I am not celiac so I can handle a bit of bread or patisserie here and there but overall, eating too much gluten causes a great many stomach problems for me. Basically, it just isn’t worth it to eat anything with gluten. That is not good news for a runner. Most glutens are carbs. Carbs that a runner needs for the long distance runs. I can’t eat a good pasta carb-load. If I don’t have enough carbs stored as usable energy in my muscles, a long run is just not possible. So I battle the need for carbs – trying to find them in potatoes, rice and oatmeal. I am in love with french fries. And, although the need for carb-loading is debated among runners, for me it is a must.
Mentally reviewing all of these things, knowing any one of them could keep me from a good race day, all while standing in the midst of super fit, super amazing, super REAL runners.
Am I a runner?
Well, I suppose I am becoming one. I’m learning.
But at that moment, I did not feel like a runner. I did not feel like I could be running a half marathon.
I felt the newbie pressure compounded with quite a few variables.
And it scared me.
I knew I could run 13.1 but I was still nervous because this was a real race.
We stepped into the race lines and waited.
We listened to the races being called off in French over the mic. We waited.
The more I waited, the more nervous I was.
Jeremy and I prayed together. Right there at the start of the race. Heads bowed, eyes closed.
I kept praying…
My mouth went dry. And I had 3 miles to go before I would get any water.
I heard, “Allez!” and we were off.
I looked up at Jeremy and that big Goodwin grin, knowing he would be with me the entire race.
Off we went. Dry mouth, ear buds refusing to stay in place, a huge press of other runners all vying for a space to run.
We were near the front of the race with hundreds of runners behind us.
We were making great time and I was feeling good. As my nerves settled, I stopped needing a drink and I was able to enjoy the run. We picked up pace and things were good.
I did really well through the first 6 miles. At that point, I needed more than just the tiny cup of water someone at the aid station was handing me. I told Jeremy I needed to stop and get a good drink. So at the next station, I stopped, took a full bottle of water and grabbed a few oranges to eat while I kept running. Off we went again… recharged and refueled.
Really good run through mile 11.
We had just run up a long hill and we wanted to make up some time. So we pounded down a huge hill, making great time. Just to go up another hill. I’m not sure if it was the pounding down the hill or the angle of my foot going up the hill, but something irritated my slightly injured foot. It didn’t feel so slight anymore. It full out hurt. bad.
I detest this part of running. The mental review of an injury. Can I keep running on this? I only have 2 miles left!! I can not stop. But if I don’t stop, am I really hurting myself? Did I break something? sprain something? All I knew was my foot hurt. Bad.
I had been praying the whole race. I started praying even harder.
I was not going to finish this race without God’s help.
I signaled to Jeremy who was just ahead of me. I caught up to him just as we crested the hill.
“My foot hurts.”
“Do you need to stop?”
“No. 2 more miles. Let’s go.”
We had one long stretch to go and then a small hill to the finish.
Once the pavement flattened out, my foot felt okay and we picked up the pace a little.
Hitting the end of our first half at just under 2 hours 9 minutes.
I was dying at the end but elated to be so close to our goal of 2 hours.
I was dying because my foot hurt.
I was dying because in just 5 weeks we are signed up to run the FULL Paris Marathon.
The thought of running that all again about made me want to quit right there.
But then I realized what I’d just done.
I rejoiced because God had brought me through a crazy long race and over the finish line.
I’d run a half marathon with a decent time. Against all odds. And only with God’s help.
Jeremy filmed our finish… And what you can’t see is the tears in my eyes and the relief in my heart.
Together. With God.
Our minds are now turned to April 12.
The full Marathon. in Paris, France.
And just like learning French, we take one lesson, one run, one obstacle at a time.
We push forward against the odds.
We trust that God will continue to help and guide and teach through it all.
And we run. Toward the goal set before us, keeping our eyes on Him.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3