Thursday, January 22, 2009

i run for cari. and for tina.

i discovered over the last few weeks that when you take an unexpected blogging hiatus, it’s difficult to get back into a rhythm. what to say? i have a lot to write about. and i guess i’ll just take it once step at a time and catch you up on our life over the next several days. or weeks, as the case may be.

the marathon was pretty amazing. yes, i finished it. yes, it was one of the most difficult things i’ve ever done. but, it was somehow fun, too. weird, i know.

my running buddy, kiley, and her husband chad picked me up early sunday morning so that michael and luke didn’t have to fight the crowds at the starting line. it was a really warm day for december. i think the temperature at the start was around 50 degrees. when i finished, it was probably around 70. that’s hot for such a long run. and, it was insanely windy. which is never fun for long runs.

we hydrated. and used the port-o-lets. we prayed together as a staff. and then we were off.

it was a really fun run through downtown dallas – and the weather was beautiful at the beginning, even with the wind. the first half of the half-marathon is run along the marathon course, so we saw several of our co-workers. we cheered for steve as he pushed tina along in her special chair. i also noticed that our first several splits were much slower than i anticipated (maybe 30 seconds). probably all due to the wind. seriously, it was brutal.

michael, luke, my sister and her roommate were planning to see us at miles 4, 8, 12 and 22. we planned to walk every 5 miles. and, at first, we did really well that way. we made it all the way to the lake (10 miles) only walking once. but around the lake the wind really picked up – though i didn’t know it was possible. and, it got much hotter and kiley doesn’t do well running in the heat. so after walking at mile 10, we also walked at mile 12. and 14. i have no doubt that the wind was gusting at 40 mph. it was wicked, almost blowing me sideways at times. around mile 13, i quit tracking our pace.

we saw chad at mile 14. the heat and wind were really beating kiley at that point. we ran together for two more miles. and then, when she had to walk again, she told me to keep going. with a bit of disappointment that we wouldn’t finish together, i kept going.

even though i wasn’t running with kiley, there were a lot of people still cheering me on. i passed chad again around mile 19. five of our coworkers were running a relay that went a long the marathon course so every five miles or so, the group of them would be waiting for their next runner and cheering like crazy for us. seeing ginny and emily’s wide eyes and huge grins definitely boosted me each time i saw them.

the next three miles around the lake weren’t too tough. mostly flat, or down hill. but the wind never let up, so it wasn’t easy. after the lake come the dolly parton hills, where guys with huge balloons in their t-shirts cheered us on. and then the next couple miles through a residential area, until at least mile 22, were up hill. at that point, i thought my quads, which had never hurt before when running, might give out. but, many of the residents came out to cheer on runners and it encouraged me to keep going.

i kept looking for michael, telling myself that when i saw him i could walk a minute. i passed the place i thought he’d be and ran a little farther without seeing him, so i walked. a mile later, the course went passed the seminary where several of our friends, and my cheerleading crew were waiting for me – with a glass of starbucks water, my favorite.

michael had changed his clothes and was running the last three miles with me. at that point, i could talk just fine, but my legs would barely move. i think michael was amused that my mouth was running so much faster than my body.

we ran passed the birth center where luke was born. michael asked which was harder. without a doubt, unmedicated childbirth is more difficult than running a marathon. if i had wanted to quit running, i could have. in childbirth, you can’t quit.

throughout the entire marathon, everytime i wanted to walk, i prayed for cari. and for tina. the first 13 miles honestly weren’t horrible. but the last six, i prayed a lot. i thought a lot about how life is a marathon. we’re urged to run with endurance the race marked out for us. we don’t get to chart the course, to choose the flattest land or the easiest weather. and, my friends can’t quit. they have to keep going despite the challenges and the grief. and, honestly, that kept me going. if my friends can’t quit, i won’t quit. with tears brimming in my eyes, i told michael, i run for cari. and for tina.

mile 25 goes right by our church, again downtown. several of our friends had stayed after church to wait for me and cheer me on. i loved seeing them! michael kept trying to encourage me to pick up the pace for the end, but i just couldn’t much. i ran the last three miles at about 11 minutes per mile.

and as the finish line came into sight, something magical happened to my legs. it was as if new life was put into them. i was able to finish at an amazing pace. at least, it felt amazing. there weren’t a lot of people finishing with me and it was so awesome to hear the announcer call my name as i crossed the line.

and then, it was over. yes, there were lots of hugs and congratulations and pats on the back. but really, it was kind of anticlimactic for me.

granted, running a marathon is an amazing accomplishment. one that i might not ever do again, though i still enjoy running. i ran several times over christmas, but have only laced up my shoes once since arriving back in dallas. but that, my bloggy friends, is for the next post . . .