Monday, September 13, 2010

My Marathon Experience

I ran my first marathon on Saturday, September 11th. What an amazing experience! I can't really say that running a marathon has been a life-long goal of mine. I honestly never saw myself doing it or even having the desire to do it, but a few things pushed me in that direction. First, I just want to live a more healthy lifestyle. Second, I've really been wanting to push myself and do things that really make me uncomfortable ... things I'm not sure I can do. Finally, after my battle with cancer 3 years ago, I sort of wanted this to be a life statement. I'm here to do my best to live life to its fullest.

Here are a few of my random thoughts from the race:

- I feel so proud of myself. Not proud in an arrogant way or anything like that. I just feel proud that I did it. I've heard that only 1% of the population will ever run a marathon. I'm glad to be in that 1% and I just feel good about accomplishing that goal.

- My wife is simply AMAZING! If it wasn't for her support, I never would have been able to do this. There were times when my training got me up early or kept me out late. There were times when she had to do all of the work with the kids. There were times when we had to break our budget some because of running shoes or Gatorade or things like that. It's not easy training for a marathon. It's definitely not easy being the mom of two young kids while your husband is training for a marathon. She was 100% behind me the entire time and I just love how she knows how to support and encourage my manhood.

- I tried my best to really enjoy the race. I went in to it with the attitude of trying to soak it all in and enjoy it. Yeah, there are definitely times when running 26.2 miles isn't incredibly fun. Sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other, but I really tried to take note of things around me while I was running. I was able to see a beautiful sunrise. I saw 2 deer. I watched as I crossed the 21 mile mark because that was officially the furthest I had ever run. I wanted to enjoy the moment as much as I could and stay positive the entire race.

- My goal was to finish in 5 hours. I was SO on pace for that and then mile 19 happened. I saw Carol at mile 16 and she ran with me for a bit. When she stopped running with me I asked her to pray for me because my left leg was starting to hurt. I had been having some IT Band pain
since I did my 18 mile run during my training. Last year, I was training for a marathon when I experienced IT Band pain in my right leg. After several doctor visits, physical therapy visits, cortizone shots, and just about everything else you could think of, I had to have surgery on my right leg. So, when I felt the pain in my left leg I was starting to get discouraged in my training, but was able to get through it. Anyway, at mile 19 my IT Band started to hurt. I had to stop and walk for a bit. At mile 20 the same thing. At mile 21 the same thing. When I hit mile 22, my left leg completely locked up on me with just excruciating pain! I literally could not stand because it hurt so bad. I had to sit down. I prayed. I begged God to not let this happen. I started to cry because I was so angry and frustrated over this. Well, I lost at least 30 minutes of time because of it all, but was eventually able to get up and I told myself if I had to walk the last 4 miles I would walk. I had some black arm warmers with me (we started at 5:30am and it was chilly at the time). I tied those around my left leg and that seemed to help control the pain. I prayed and asked God to at least let me finish the race running and I was able to do that. NOTHING WAS GOING TO KEEP ME FROM FINISHING THAT RACE!

- I LOVED seeing my wife and kids at the finish line. When I passed them at mile 25 and heard them cheering for me, I started crying. It was so inspiring. Pastor Jon and his family also came down to the race to see me finish. It was awesome having people I love there! About 100 yards from the finish, Ezra and Pastor Jon's kids (Ellie, Ethan, and Elisha) all started running with me. We all crossed the finish together and then I saw my beautiful, beautiful wife ... and she actually kissed me ... sweaty and smelly as I was. It must be love. :)

- The temperature was perfect for running, but it rained for about 2 hours ... sometimes lightly other times down pouring!

- The winner ran the race in 2:29.

- There were some "humbling" moments during the race. First, they moved the race time up to 5:30am for the "slower" runners. There was a chance of thunderstorms later and they wanted to make sure everyone would have a chance to finish because we were told they would cancel the raise if it started to thunder. Anyway, the race director kept calling those of us with expected finishing times of 4:45 or longer the "slower runners." I was like, "Come on, man! How 'bout just calling us 'those who will finish in 4:45 or longer." Another humbling part was to know that when the "slower" group of runners started at 5:30am ... well, I was one of the slower of the slower runners. :) I ended up catching up to and passing several of those people though ... until my leg issue.

- My wife made the weekend SO special. She made special shirts for the kids and they all had signs cheering me on. We also were able to take the whole weekend off. We really had no plans and just enjoyed time together as a family. This was seriously one of the best weekends of my life!

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