"Know you not that they who run in a race run all,
but one receives the prize? So RUN, that you may obtain."
but one receives the prize? So RUN, that you may obtain."
In April of 2008, nearly one year after the birth of my second child, I completed my first long-distance run and race: the 13.1-mile Oklahoma City Memorial Half-Marathon. I was encouraged at the ease in which I finished...this was a race I hadn't trained for. In April of 2009, I ran my second long-distance run and race: the 26.2-mile Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. (I had grown to love the RACE.) In November of 2009, I completed my third long-distance run and race: the Tulsa Route 66 Marathon (which for ME, was 30 miles, rather than the intended 26.2...long story, but it's in the archives).
Determined to return to Tulsa for vengeance, I registered EARLY in April for my spot in the November 2010 Tulsa Route 66 Marathon. Our lives were busy with activities of all kinds, including our part in the Armstrong College concert choir performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah...along with the major overhaul of two rooms in our home. Yet, I registered ANYWAY.
As the race drew closer this year, I began to have many negative thoughts about the race. I initially resorted to selling my spot, as we had family coming to town on marathon weekend, anyway, and wasn't that a great reason NOT to run? My husband, as always, encouraged me to push myself and follow through with my commitment. The fact that I hadn't trained posed a few concerns in my mind. The primary concern was the PAIN I'd experience due to lack of conditioning. (How many of us willingly subject ourselves to PAIN?) I've never experienced such race anxiety in of my races prior to this one.
Building mental stamina is my primary goal in training for a marathon. I see this as an effective goal and an essential one, in my novice opinion. It’s one thing to be motivated to begin training. It’s another to stay motivated. But staying motivated and developing the proper mindset is definitely a necessary tool to both enduring and finishing the race.
Building mental stamina involves preparing your BODY, as well as your MIND, for the task at hand. Being assured that you have prepared your body does wonders for the mind. That's what I lacked this Sunday. I had a great deal of encouragement from friends, and I had the assurance, in prayer, that God knew my plight and my concerns. What more could I ask for?
Raceday came, and God provided. Temperatures (at the end of November, mind you) at 6:00 a.m. were 64 degrees, and by 7:30 (when the gun blasted), the temperatures must have been 70-plus. I began the race with the 4:45:00 pace group. It never fails that I get caught in the back of the crowd. I worked my way swiftly (through the dominating 25-35 MPH winds) to the 4:00:00 pace group, moving past them within a few minutes. For the majority of the race, I held my ground with the 3:40:00-3:45:00 pace group. My goal, with circumstances considered, was 4:15:00. If I could pace with the sub-four pace group, I was bound to meet my goal, even in the instance of great fatigue. After complaining for weeks about how boring the course was, I found myself in the midst of this 2010 race, breathing in my surroundings and TRULY enjoying them. I recognized everything from last year, and surprisingly, the miles passed quickly. Never was the race grievous, as I was working to the best of my ability to remain positive and uplifted.
Witnessing the fortitude of the runners and wheelchair racers around me serves as a great motivator. I saw a young boy, about 12, with thick red hair popping out of his ball cap and lanky legs moving consistently, running his first marathon, hand-in-hand with his dad. I was moved and so proud for both of them. How proud his dad must have been at his determination. And I know he finished; I saw him around mile 20, going strong. I saw a wheelchair racer whom I've seen in my last two races. The thought of using my arms to propel me UP the insane hills in the Tulsa marathon...ugh. She was an inspiration and a great example of determination.
Around mile 20, two things happened: the wind was FINALLY at my back, and a fellow runner and I began pacing together. We never spoke, but we followed one another's pace. When I slowed, she slowed. When I began running again, she began running again. We continued on one another's heels for ten miles. It's interesting how one can be driven by the other. It's the power of healthy competition that drove us to maintain pace with one another. When I saw the 26-mile marker, I prepared my legs for the sprint. At that point, I had put myself on my pace-partner's heels, and she wasn't expecting my pass. In the tradition of my husband, I began sprinting the last quarter-mile. As I passed her, she yelled, "nice KICK, Girl!".
The last few moments of a race are intense. It's a culmination of emotion, pain, discomfort and fulfillment. There's only ONE thing that I compare my marathon experiences to...CHILDBIRTH. It's the intense labor that is involved in those miles; it's the emotion that is built in the anticipation of the race...and of it's completion; it's the personal reward that comes from enduring with strength, praying for deliverance and strength the entire way... (I was sobered to find that a 27-year-old runner had died on the course. I saw the emergency crew leaving, and I'm thankful that I didn't know the circumstances until after the race.) In pushing myself, I re-establish an understanding of the frailty of the flesh. I am reminded of God's grace and thankful for his protection.
Whether I run a 5K, a 10K, 13.1 or 26.2 miles, I purpose do so diligently...that I may finish the race set before me... The prize comes in the finish. And after my third marathon, I STILL LOVE (and maybe a little more) the adrenaline-packed, sweat-filled, pain-free (ha!), I-love-running-and-won't-stop 26.2-miles of a marathon race!
With training, I would have aimed for a sub-4:00:00 time, but my realistic goal for this race was 4:15:00.
Overall Place: 392
Division Place: 17/103
Gender Place: 78/572
In reference to my FIRST marathon time in April 2009 (4:36:27), I improved. And that's enough for now.