5 weeks ago you couldn't have convinced me that I was going to be able to run The Crim. My body had betrayed me.
I have not ran since the beginning of summer because I have been battling my It Band. I have been going to physical therapy now for over 6 weeks.
The most effective therapy I believe helped me recover has been Prayer Therapy.
The CRIM is my absolute Favorite race. This is a local race in Flint with over 10,000 runners.
The crowds and the course entertainment are incredible. You have a local race with a big city feel. I love people. On every corner you see runners that had one goal all summer, to run The Crim.
There is something powerful about listening to people share their goals. There is a nervous excitement in the air. People are lined up in bathrooms, stretching in the grass and looking for their loved ones. Every shape, size, nationality, age and personality it out there. And for this one day we are all ONE.
Being in extrovert I gravitate to high energy. I very quickly transform into The Obnoxious Runner. I talk to anyone that gives my eye contact. I am like a kid who didn't take their ADD medicine. My focus is ping ponging everywhere. But deep in the corner of my mind I have a space that is dense with fear.
Not the kind of Fear that absorbs you and overtakes you. The kind of Fear that drives you, excites you and empowers you.
Mom, dad and the boys drove up to Flint a little after 6am. We picked Austins girlfriend up on the way.
Andy and I wore Lime Green in Honor of our Aunt Lois who has Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I was dedicating this race to her.
Runners were scattered all over. We located Joan and Javon, we met them at the expo Friday and made a plan. I was going to try and run with Joan.
We ran into several of our friends.
As we ran into more and more the time to start was counting down. I asked them if they would like to pray with us before we started the race. It was so special to see over 10 of us holding hands and seeking God. Dad prayed and his words were so perfect.
Austin was anxious. I could not keep up with him this year. I felt awful not being able to run with him.
Andy, Joan, Jeanette and I headed to our corral.
"Please God keep me strong." I prayed for the hundredth time.
In our corral, minutes before the race started, I lost Austin. All I could see was this tall young man confidently walking into the crowds away from me.
I couldn't hold the tears back. "He shouldn't be alone." I thought. "I am his mother, I should be beside him." All those people looked like they were consuming him until I could no longer see my boy.
As his mother and his number one fan I felt like I should be there to make sure he was going to be OK. I needed to be beside him to cheer him on. I needed to encourage him, push him. And there he went, without looking back. He didn't need me. I was crushed. It was a hard pill to swallow to see your boy turning into a confident young man.
Before the race we all realized we were running the same goals. it looked like we would be running together.
By the time the horn blew, it was obvious our plan was out the door.
Andy bolted ahead of us.
For about a mile I stayed with the girls. I really wanted to stay with them but I was so concerned with Andy going so far ahead. I looked at my pace and couldn't figure out why he was goings so fast.
All I knew was the girls would be great. Andy was not going to be.
I looked back at the girls and started towards Andy.
I secretly ran about 10 feet behind Andy. He never would have known I was there had I not kept seeing people I knew and shouting at them!
At about mile 3 Andy turned around and located me.
I went through my drill.
"How are you feeling?"
"Why DID YOU take off so FAST??"
It was like I thought. Andy was trying to stay with the 8:30 pace group. Only the 8:30 pace group took off too fast. Their first 3 miles were all under pace. This wouldn't have been a big deal but Andy was already pushing it. The first 2 miles are always difficult. If you take off too fast you have potential to burn out.
And this is exactly what happened to Andy. He was holding his own until we got to the Bradley hills. This is a series of 4 hills at the 5 mile marker. As we headed up the hills I cheered the runners on. "Great Job RUNNERS, UP Up UP!"
Guys were hacking and spitting. People were slowing down and no one had their happy smiles on. I did everything I could to keep Andy. I coached Andy with all I had. One guy even yelled "Hey, I need a COACH!!"
On the last hill I turned around and he was no where in sight. I headed back to find him.
He looked bad. I knew I needed to leave him and let him run his own race. I would be more of an annoyance to him if I stayed.
It is at this point I could no longer see the 8:30 pace team. My goal was to catch them. My body good enough to make this happen. "Ok, Nita, steady up." I turned my music on in my ears and focused on the finding the pace team.
The humidity was rough. I had already taken my shirt off and my body was soaked with sweat. I reminded myself I was strong enough mentally to push myself physically.
Greater is HE who is in ME.
I found the pace team and closed the gap at mile 7. I stayed behind them for some time to catch my breath and work myself into this faster speed. This is faster than I have ran in weeks. My body was having a hard time catching up. My legs were at the beginning stages of numbness.
It was time to make my move. I began to pass them as I approached the 8 mile mark. I heard a woman say to the pacer, "Hey, that girl was behind us, she is passing us." The pacer replied "What Girl?"
And that was all I heard.
I prayed that I had made a wise move. I prayed that I would be able to hold onto this pace for the next 2 miles.
I turned up my power song and dug my heals in. Do or DIE. I told myself.
I slowly passed runners. How was this possible? How was I running like this? I gave God thanks asking him to carry me to the finish.
I needed to run this for me and for Aunt LO. I wanted Aunt Lo to see that Against the Odds Failure is NOT an Option. That we have to dig in and seek God for HIS Strength.
I wanted her to see Victory in Jesus.
Sweet Victory when I didn't stand a chance.
With one mile to go I continued to pass people. I was exhausted. I was at that place I wanted to walk. I wanted to breath. I wanted to lay down and call it good.
My feet hit the bricks. I knew I had to hold on just a little while longer. I made that turn and saw the finish. "Hold on NITA, be smart, be strong."
There was a tall man ahead of me I had been shadowing.
With less than block left I could hear the crowds going crazy. Praying I was making the right move I began to pass him. He had already accelerated making my move more difficult.
"Everything you have, right here, RIGHT NOW."
"OH God it hurts."
"ANITA HARLESS From Holly, Michigan" came through the speakers as I crossed the finishing mats.
I was DONE. Thank YOU Jesus!
Austin was there waiting for me. He looked so strong. He did amazing!
He ran under 7:30 pace!
Andy struggled, but did very well.
Mom and dad continue to go and support us. So thankful for them.