"Only as High as I can Reach can I grow, only as far as I Seek can I go, only as Deep as I look can I see, only as much as I Dream can I BE." Karen Ravn
4am comes very early no matter what time you go to bed.
We had to be in Ann Arbor by 6am. Surprisingly, I got up before the family and made it to the Keirig for coffee with no problem.
As we all headed to the car I was really pleased that we were moving so smooth. I walked along side of the drivers side of the car and I almost spilled my coffee on myself. I jumped seeing passengers already in the car, it was mom and dad! They surprised me and came out to cheer me on. It is the best feeling in the world to have support and encouragement.
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." 1 Thes 5:11
I seriously can not stress enough how much of an impact support and encouragement means in all arenas of life and all ages as well.
The car ride wasn't too painful heading to Ann Arbor once the kids settled down from bickering with one another. I didn't have the pre race jitters this time. I had a good night sleep and had decided early on that I was using this race as a training run. I was not going to go all out but I wanted to run this respectably for myself.
We parked the car at the local high school. Where was everyone at? I was surprised to see very few runners. Even as I headed to the Port-O-Johns there not only was no line but they didn't smell like sewage either!
Right before the start we gathered together as a family and prayed. I can not imagine not seeking God in such a enormous feat.
I headed towards the other runners just minutes before the start. This darling 85 year old man spoke of how he has ran over 150 marathons. His words were encouragement to all.
With not much of a plan for my run I found myself sneaking in behind the 3:40 pace group. "I think I can maintain this." I told myself.
With the start of the race I laid low in the shadows of the pace group. There seemed to be about 15 runners all together.
I put my music in my ears while allowing my body to embrace the run. Emotions quickly began to erupt from my body. "Oh My Goodness, I am running a marathon today." I heard the inner voice speak out of shock. Even though I had mentally told myself I wanted to run this marathon I had not physically signed up until 5 days before.
Humility overcame my body and my mind. I knew that there was NOTHING in ME that was going to get me to the 26.2 mile Finish. I also knew that there was NOTHING in me that could have even got me to the START! I am a Nothing deserving of Nothing and YET HE has given me Everything I do not deserve. My Heavenly Father has given me so much, STRENGTH, STAMINA, ENDURANCE, HEALTH, PASSION and so many gifts and all He wants in return is for me to seek Him in obedience and glorify Him in everything I do.
By mile 4 or 5 I was still hidden with in the pack upon hearing this very loud and excited female voice. She was yelling to a friend of hers "I GOTTA GO POOP!!, I Gotta POOP Right NOW!!!" This is when I was noticed because we all looked around with wide eyes and were cracking up.
My family was waiting for me at MILE 10 full of smiles. Touching each of them I smiled back and tucked their encouragement inside for fuel.
The course was not an easy one. It was a very scenic course full of rolling hills, switchbacks and turns. Our group was slowly dropping off. We had a switchback so I was able to see my family at mile 10 and at mile 16. This was very ideal for family cheering you on because they did not have to move.
The course not only had you running through the city but it also had you running through a park and alongside of the Huron river. I was not prepared when the course took us into a secluded park and unto a trail. This part of the course had me a little apprehensive which I was quickly forgot with the beauty of the forest. The large trees and foliage smelled crisp and fresh. This trail was a bit rolling but otherwise smooth. Out of the woods suddenly came a VERY large doe almost taking out the 2 runners directly in front of us! Running with that excitement I was not prepared for the uphill exit out of the park.
With just the pacer and myself, "Jessica" and I caught our breath and headed towards mile 18. Cruising along "Jessica" she shared with me her story of running Boston this year. I didn't mind listening I just didn't want to talk at this point.
By mile 22 there was an even larger gap between us and ANY other runners. My legs were comfortably numb and I was running on auto pilot, telling myself to just turn the legs over.
"Jessica" was keeping track of all the woman we had in front of us. She had a very competitive spirit telling me "You will be able to catch them and pass them." Together we actually passed 3 more ladies. But by mile 24 she was encouraging me to take off on my own "You have more in you, you can finish faster than this pace, you need to go ahead."
"Thank You" I replied and I put my music back in my ears and focused my eyes on the woman "Jessica" had showed me to try and pass.
It didn't take long to pass her. Just after I passed her I saw Andy ahead of me. He was alone with a camera in his hand. " With a smile larger than life he came along side of me yelling "You are doing great, you have a down hill, then a uphill, then a down hill finish, You got this now FINISH STRONG!"
All I could yell back was " OK, Ok...I LOVE YOU."
At that moment I felt strong. I had a mile and a half to go and I could feel God putting air in my lungs and power in my legs.
I saw another girl at the last switchback and was determined to pass her. I felt bad for her because I could tell she was exhausted. As I passed her I yelled "You are doing good, You are almost there."
Coming into the home stretch they have both the half marathon and the marathon finishing together. I passed several more people and found myself running along side two guys who were running together. The one looked at me and he could tell that I was going to try to hit the finish mats first. He challenged me and kicked it into gear. "Ohh No you Don't" I looked at him laughing and grabbed the invitation to race to the finish line...I beat! Not by much though I can assure you!
I am so thankful for mom and dad being there. They both wore their Team Harless shirts that they wear only to our runs. It was a perfect day for a race.
2ND Female in my Division..there were only 20!
11TH Female to cross the Finish line out of 141.
Great Race. But a TOUGH course.